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$5 Blu-rays? Blame Amazon overstocks
April 16, 2015 | 5:18 pm

amazon overstocksThe critically-acclaimed, Oscar-winning movie “Birdman” was only released two months ago. I just bought this movie on Blu-ray for $5. The case was in great condition, had a blank label over the bar code, but had no shrinkwrap seal. The disc appeared in excellent order, with a little bit of minor scratching around the edge that could have happened in shipping. The bundled code for a digital copy had not yet been redeemed, and I was able to add it to my Google Play account with no problems. It loaded up in PowerDVD and played just fine. That’s a pristine, unused...

Netflix, VPN Users and the Real Question for Content Providers
January 7, 2015 | 12:25 pm

netflixTwo articles crossed my inbox yesterday on the issue of international customers using VPNs to watch American Netflix. One article came via GigaOM, and was included in today's morning links. The other came via the Beloved coming home and gleefully announcing to me that he read, in the Paywalled Toronto Star, that Netflix would be arresting all the cheaters. That turned out to be not so true---the Beloved succumbed to the hyperbole, and a closer read of the story had the usual stuff in there about how you are not supposed to do that, but there isn't much Netflix can do...

Amazon releases Prime Instant Video app for non-Fire Android devices
September 9, 2014 | 8:54 pm

prime instantWe and Nate at The Digital Reader have previously written about a workaround for watching Android Prime Instant Video on non-Fire Android devices. Until now, it required installing the Dolphin web browser and a deprecated Flash app, then setting Amazon Streaming Video to use Flash instead of Silverlight so that it would think you were watching video from a desktop. However, now Android Authority reports that, at least for people in the US, Amazon has finally released an Amazon Prime Instant Video app for non-Fire Android devices. Of course, Amazon being Amazon, the process is still more complicated than...

Audience migration to digital pulls The Legend of Korra off Nick TV channel
July 26, 2014 | 7:32 pm

korraThe digital transition: it’s not just for books. With the advent of tablets and smartphones with fast cellular connections (or wifi), there’s been a critical shift in the way media are consumed. I’ve talked about that before: In the early days of the Internet, companies invested in computer-on-TV devices, assuming that when convergence came, everything would converge through the TV set. They invariably flopped. But now that we have small screens we can always carry with us, with processors good enough and Internet fast enough to stream video in real time, more and more people...

Amazon Prime streaming video app coming soon to Android, Amazon says
July 23, 2014 | 12:36 am

It might be a bit surprising, but one of our most popular articles here at TeleRead deals not with books but rather with video—in particular, how to use a Flash-enabled web browser to watch Amazon Prime streaming videos on Android devices. Since there’s no native Android player application for the service, the way there are for Kindle Fire and iOS devices, this workaround has been the best that Android owners can do. (And even that didn’t work outside of the US.) Until now. PC Advisor reports that Amazon Instant Video marketing director Russell Morris said at an event in...

YouTube pressures independent music labels in Amazon/Hachette-like way
June 18, 2014 | 3:21 am

A major electronic media company and its suppliers face contentious contract renegotiations, with the company making it harder for its customers to find the supplier’s products. It’s a story familiar from the last few weeks…except this time I’m not talking about Amazon and Hachette. The BBC reports that YouTube is set to remove music videos by major independent artists including Adele, Arctic Monkeys, and Radiohead because their indie music labels aren’t able to reach terms with YouTube over its new music subscription service. While content from channels such as Vevo will remain available, exclusively-licensed videos such as acoustic sets...

Violinist Lindsey Stirling’s success story is like those of self-publishers
June 11, 2014 | 7:47 am

lindsey-stirling-music-33545711-2560-1440A creative talent is told by the establishment that she’s “unmarketable,” but goes on to leverage social Internet media to become a new rising star. This is the success story of many self-publishing writers, but the phenomenon isn’t unique to writers. I ran across an article about “hip-hop violinist” Lindsey Stirling that put me in mind of just how much her career follows the same formula. Stirling made it to the quarterfinals of “America’s Got Talent,” but washed out, with judges telling her she “wasn’t good enough” for the style of performance she wanted to do. But after that,...

Post-mortem for another web pioneer: Television Without Pity
March 31, 2014 | 4:31 pm

television without pityI wrote earlier this month about the closure of Collage Video, a pioneering niche online retailer who fell victim to growing competition from Amazon, YouTube and other market forces. The eulogies for them on-line were sentimental, heartfelt, and usually followed by the frank admission that the person simply didn't shop there anymore. Well, the market forces struck again this week, as pioneering television recap site Television Without Pity announced that they too were shutting their doors. The site was known for its motto 'spare the snark, spoil the network' and it posted gleefully acerbic recaps of television shows. So, what happened? This...

How TV is Looking to Novelists for Inspiration
March 27, 2014 | 10:25 am

novelistsBy Miles Young Game of Thrones. The Walking Dead; if you've ever had trouble tearing yourself away from one of these hot TV programs, you understand why critics call today's menu of tantalizing cable offerings the “New Golden Age of Television.” The shows keep you up past your bedtime. They account for a significant amount of bleary-eyed commuters each morning.  Staying up late to find out what happens next in a soul-gripping TV melodrama isn't a new phenomenon. Before the serial soaps of today, there were the thrilling page-turner novels of yesterday. Some people say that today's must-see cable shows rival the...

Collage Video: the death of a niche retailer
March 13, 2014 | 10:47 am

collage videoI received the news via the Video Fitness forum I visit, that Collage Video, a pioneer in the home exercise market, is closing after more than 20 years in business. One message board poster spoke with a rep who said that management made the decision because they felt they could no longer compete with the 'larger companies.' My virtual friends in this niche community are, of course, devastated by the closure---for sentimental reasons. Many got their fitness start purchasing from this company, and enjoyed receiving their quarterly glossy catalogues, watching the preview clips they posted with every title, and reading the...

Thirty years of time shifting: The Supreme Court decision legalizing the VCR
January 18, 2014 | 2:14 am

Today marks an important anniversary for our digital media era—an era that couldn’t have been foreseen thirty years ago, but nonetheless relies to a very great extent on a legal decision exactly thirty years old. Today is the 30th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision that declared the Sony Betamax VCR was legal because “time shifting,” recording a program off the air to watch it later, was fair use, and thus the VCR had substantial non-infringing purposes. Ars Technica has a feature article looking at the context of the decision in greater detail. This decision is crucial to...

Have you ever been ‘vidnapped’? A new term defines our times
January 14, 2014 | 6:32 pm

vidnappedIn criminal law, a ''kidnapping'' is, of course, the taking away or transportation of a person against that person's will, usually to hold the person in false imprisonment -- and sometimes to demand a ransom. But in the online world of viral videos, a new term has surfaced, and been officially sanctioned by the folks at Urban Dictionary -- "vidnapping." So what's a vidnapping, you ask? It's when a person is videotaped or digitally videoed against his or her will, and without his or her consent or permission, usually in public space such as a city park or football stadium. In most...

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