Earlier this week, Macworld cried foul over some movies that appeared to be disappearing from the iTunes Store. There was no apparent pattern as the movies were all released by different studios. I checked a few of them in the Canadian Store, and they were still there...
So what was up?
CNet did some investigating, and it turns out we -- once again -- have big media to thank for our poor user experience:
Normally, release windows don't affect retailers or video-rental services after they've begun selling or renting films. Warner Bros. doesn't go into Best Buy and pull DVDs off the shelf when Comcast airs Casablanca. The corner Mom and Pop video store doesn't surrender copies of Gladiator to Universal Studios when the film appears on ABC. But Internet stores are being treated differently. What this means for iTunes and Netflix customers is that movies will pop in and out of the services.
CNet notes that DVDs, of course, aren't yanked off the shelves when TV wants to air a movie, so why are online stores like iTunes treated differently?
The answer, of course, is because broadcasters say they are.
Is that reasonable? Is the internet different than the brick-and-mortar? Should movies be yanked down from iTunes but still be for sale on a DVD at Walmart? Or have we evolved past those differences, and content should be available for us to buy when and how we want to buy it?