The Blu-ray is more complicated, since I don't have a computer drive that can read Blu-rays, and by God you want the best quality Lawrence of Arabia you can get. Accessing that digital copy required going to an entirely different URL, and using an entirely different program in tandem with Ultraviolet-- Magic Mike used Flixster, and Lawrence used a Sony Pictures program. The Sony program required a new login, which I set up, and then remembering my Ultraviolet login, which I had attempted to use years ago and forgot. Two new passwords later I finally had the Sony Downloader program on my desktop… and only had to spend two hours downloading the 2 GB file that would finally put Lawrence of Arabia on my computer.

It worked out, finally, but the quality of the movie on my retina display computer is still totally inferior to the Blu-ray on my TV, so in a way I'm back at square one. And the entire time I was entering new passwords and following URLs and trying to get the system to recognize my password, I wondered just how many people on earth are technologically savvy enough-- or patient enough-- to deal with. My parents are both computer literate, but I wouldn't dream of asking them to go through this. It's infinitely easier to teach someone to use Handbrake to rip their own DVDs, and so long as they paid for them, essentially legal.

More importantly, using Handbrake would cut off at the knees the dysfunctional program that is Ultraviolet, which is attempting to be a competitor to the dead-simple iTunes by being as infuriating as possible. I can buy Magic Mike in HD on iTunes right now for $13-- more than the physical DVD cost, but totally worth it for the lack of clutter and rage around trying to get Ultraviolet to work. I try to limit my purchases of physical media these days to only the Blu-rays that I know won't be equaled by streaming media any time soon, and I like that through Ultraviolet, studios are at least taking steps toward acknowledging this all-digital future. But the system they're forcing upon us right now is garbage, and actually creates less incentive to own the DVD than to just download the copy from iTunes. That can't be how they're hoping to save home video.

I want to support the studios that pay for the movies I love, and I want people who haven't transferred completely over to digital format to be able to access films (that's the main reason DVD and Blu-ray won't go away any time soon). But when the system we have is so broken, it's really hard to support it. Until major studios demand changes in Ultraviolet or move away from it, streaming and VOD will continue to hammer away at the DVDs and Blu-rays they're trying to save.

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