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Tue Oct 22, 2013, 11:19 AM

A friendly warning: Donít be too quick to get rid of all those DVDs and Blu-rays

(Before I start, please understand that I donít consider this a ďproblemĒ compared to actual problems such as poverty, sickness, the death of a loved one, a friendís betrayal, and so on. I learned a long time ago to keep little annoyances such as this one in their proper perspective. This is simply a friendly warning to anyone who might be about to make the same mistake I made.)

Iím afraid to add up how much Iíve spent on Amazon Instant Video movies and TV shows since I bought my Kindle Fire HD. Itís definitely more than ďhundreds,Ē but Iím not sure if I can claim to have spent ďthousands.Ē

Adding up the total cost would make me sick, given what I just discovered, so I wonít add it up. But itís a lot.

When I purchased season 9 of The Office on Amazon Instant Video last June, the season finale (which was also the series finale) was 52 minutes long. (It was 52 minutes long when I watched it on NBC the night it originally aired, and it was 52 minutes long when I purchased and downloaded it on Amazon Instant Video.)

Over the past four months, Iíve been slowly re-watching the season on my Kindle. Last night, I began watching the season finale again.

It was 44 minutes long. Amazon had shortened content I already ďowned.Ē

This left me wondering why I had fallen under the assumption that physical media was somehow inferior to digital media. I have never had a DVD or Blu-ray suddenly and inexplicably become shorter in length after I watched it and put it on my shelf.

My first clue was when Dwight failed to refer to PBS as ďthe propaganda wing of Bill and Melinda Gates - and (addressing the camera) viewers like youĒ in the first minutes of the episode. It was a great line, given Dwightís authoritarian personality. (I canít help but wonder what was behind the decision to censor that particular line.)

But at first I just assumed my memory was failing. I knew Dwightís PBS/Gates comment was there, because when I bought the season in June, I plugged my Kindle into my TV and watched the finale with a friend. (This was just a short time after NBC originally aired the episode.) We talked about the PBS/Gates comment at the time.

So last night, I thought at first that Dwightís PBS/Gates comment must have been somewhere other than in the first few minutes of the episode. Then I checked the length of the episode, and thatís when I got a shock that made me lose faith in digital downloads.

At some point since I watched the finale last June, Amazon has cut eight minutes from the episode.

I called customer service, and they refunded the original purchase price. That was really nice of them (normally, a customer has up to seven days to return digital content), but I canít see any reason to ever buy another Kindle book, movie, TV show, game, or app.

I bought the content on the assumption that it was safe on Amazonís servers, because why would they want to lose a compulsive spender like myself? But lose me they did. Thereís just no reason to keep buying content that can be altered/shortened when my back is turned.

And since Iíve gotten used to the extra space where my physical media used to be (before I donated hundreds of books and movies to charity) ... well, I guess Iím done buying those, as well.

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Reply A friendly warning: Donít be too quick to get rid of all those DVDs and Blu-rays (Original post)
Shampoobra Oct 2013 OP
cyberswede Oct 2013 #1
Shampoobra Oct 2013 #2
Shampoobra Oct 2013 #3
uriel1972 Oct 2013 #4
Shampoobra Oct 2013 #8
davidpdx Oct 2013 #5
Shampoobra Oct 2013 #6
jakeXT Oct 2013 #7
Shampoobra Oct 2013 #9
jakeXT Oct 2013 #10
Shampoobra Oct 2013 #11
hobbit709 Oct 2013 #12
dixiegrrrrl Dec 2013 #13

Response to Shampoobra (Original post)

Tue Oct 22, 2013, 11:30 AM

1. That sucks!

Like you, I would also assume that media I purchased would remain the same as when I purchased it.

It's bad enough that some old shows can't be found with the original content (WKRP with different music, for example), but to change the content AFTER it's been purchased is obnoxious.

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Response to cyberswede (Reply #1)

Tue Oct 22, 2013, 11:40 AM

2. This was actually the second time they did this to me

I bought one of the season 3 episodes of How I Met Your Mother. It would have cost $1.99 to buy the episode in standard definition. I bought the high definition version for a dollar more.

A few weeks ago, Amazon discontinued the high def versions of several seasons of HIMYM, including season 3. I just happened to notice recently that my purchase had been retroactively downgraded to standard definition, sans explanation or refund.

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Response to Shampoobra (Original post)

Wed Oct 23, 2013, 01:51 AM

3. Kick

I hate like hell to kick my own thread. But I really want as many people as possible to see this, so they can make informed choices about how much to spend on digital content, with information I didn't have before I started wasting money on it.

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Response to Shampoobra (Original post)

Wed Oct 23, 2013, 02:50 AM

4. Whole books have been removed due to copyright etc before...

So I am not surprised. Don't know why you'd cut out 8 mins from a show tho.

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Response to uriel1972 (Reply #4)

Wed Oct 23, 2013, 03:31 AM

8. I just now discovered a pleasant surprise

I went to the Amazon page for season 9 to see if any of the customer reviews mentioned the missing 8 minutes. (They didn't.) While I was there, I noticed that each episode still has the word "Owned" next to it. Then I went to my video library, and it shows I still own season 9.

I received the refund within minutes of my complaint last night, but apparently they're letting me keep the season.

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Response to Shampoobra (Original post)

Wed Oct 23, 2013, 02:58 AM

5. I'd never assume you own the content even though you paid for it.

At best you are borrowing it like a library book. I'd suggest looking through the fine print and seeing how long you actually will have access to the content. If you find it, please let us know. This is one of the problems with paid media and one reason I'll never buy into it.

We keep hearing that DVDs will eventually go out of style and that everything will go digital, but until these service providers give people a reason to trust them I say screw'em.

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Response to davidpdx (Reply #5)

Wed Oct 23, 2013, 03:24 AM

6. My mistake was assuming Amazon wouldn't dare mess with the goose that laid the golden egg

With digital download sales, Amazon doesn't have to pay employees to package the items, and it doesn't have to pay to ship it. (With Amazon Prime members like myself, Amazon ships the items at their own expense.)

It was a beautiful setup for them. All they had to do protect their customers' digital content, maintaining our confidence in the integrity of their service.

Those eight minutes didn't just fall off their cloud. Some idiot made a conscious decision to delete them, assuming that "these sheep will put up with anything we decide to dish out." And they did it in a sluggish economy, when most of us know we shouldn't be buying stuff we don't really need in the first place.

As for owning or not owning the content, all I cared about was whether I could access it from the day I purchased it until the day I die. Whether physical or digital, "you can't take it with you," and besides, DVDs and Blu-rays will degrade over time, so those aren't permanent, either.

A friend of mine watches far more movies than I, and he owns almost no physical or digital media. He reminded me today that public libraries still exist in our area, and suggested I renew my local library card.

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Response to Shampoobra (Original post)

Wed Oct 23, 2013, 03:26 AM

7. Can you download the content to a harddisk? Nt

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Response to jakeXT (Reply #7)

Wed Oct 23, 2013, 03:38 AM

9. Yes, but with this many digital purchases...

...I'd probably need a terabyte-sized external hard drive to back everything up. And it's not truly "backed up" if I only have them on one drive, so that means buying two terabyte-sized drives.

It would cost about $180 to $200 for two of those. What's the point of buying digital downloads if I also have to buy physical hardware to store them?

Besides, I would have to have had those drives purchased and ready to use before I bought the season. Now, those 8 minutes simply don't exist anymore in Amazon's downloadable format.

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Response to Shampoobra (Reply #9)

Wed Oct 23, 2013, 04:03 AM

10. I thought owning an online stream/ download is cheaper and instant gratification

Is it cheaper than an original DVD ? Yes you probably don't have different languages and BTS / Making Of Stuff with a download, I assume.

I used to store everything from the net on DVD-R (Podcasts, Youtube videos etc), when hard-disks were small, but there other problems like UV radiation.

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Response to jakeXT (Reply #10)

Wed Oct 23, 2013, 04:20 AM

11. Downloads definitely have their advantages and disadvantages

A tablet and a pair of ear buds can make a long bus ride seem much shorter, and it's nice to start watching a movie or show within minutes of purchasing it, rather than waiting two days for the discs to arrive.

The disadvantages are: no subtitles, no extras, no commentary tracks. Oh, and that pesky thing where they have the ability to remove large chunks of content you already paid for, without your consent or even a heads-up.

But as I wrote up-thread, I discovered that Amazon is apparently allowing me to keep the season, even though they already refunded the cost. It's hard to complain about that.

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Response to Shampoobra (Reply #9)

Wed Oct 23, 2013, 06:20 AM

12. I have a 1.5Tb external USB 3.0 drive. Cost me $90 on sale at the time.

It has all my movies and videos on it and I still have about a 130 Gb space on it.

The same files are on my HTPC on the internal drive and on a 2 Tb internal drive in my cabinet. that drive cost me $60 at the time. Considering how much money you spent on all that video, $150-200 for backup storage is a good investment.

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Response to Shampoobra (Original post)

Thu Dec 19, 2013, 11:39 AM

13. Valuable post worth a kick...n/t

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