iTunes Video: A Complete Ripoff

Published at 09:23 on 18 August 2012

Note to all: avoid iTunes videos that you must pay for like the plague.

I had been wanting to watch some Portlandia episodes , and last night tried to with iTunes video. Big, big mistake. After charging me $2.99 and commencing the download, iTunes sneeringly informed me that I could not watch said video on my computer, and then launched into a paragraph of arcane technobabble that even I could not understand at first.

Apparently, some lame copy-protection scheme mandated by the Hollywood studios considers all but a select few Macs a piracy threat, presumably because the digital video signal going between the system unit and the monitor could be used to create a decrypted, free copy of the video.

Of course, that’s no excuse for iTunes’ bait-and-switch behavior. iTunes could obviously tell if the system it was running on was unacceptable to Hollywood (hence the message); there’s no reason whatsoever for not sending it before you pay for a video and start the download. None except pure greed on Apple’s part, that is.

While researching the issue, I came across a comment in passing that mentioned BitTorrent and pirated copies of videos. A light went on. I downloaded BitTorrent, downloaded an AVI video player, typed in a few Google keywords, and within a matter of minutes BitTorrent was merrily downloading the content Apple had previously defrauded me for. Content which actually played.

And the BitTorrent download proceeded far faster than the iTunes download had. Just for yucks, I tried it again with another episode and that one arrived promptly and without issue, too.

Way to go Apple and Hollywood: you’ve successfully made it so difficult and risky for customers to pay for content that they opt for the easier option of pirating it instead.

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