Sometimes, Free Videos are Better than Paid Versions

Posted on February 18, 2009 11:33 AM by Rob Williams

Over the course of the past month, I’ve kind of jumped on the digital music bandwagon, which for the most part, exclusively includes iTunes (since the Zune Marketplace is not available in Canada for whatever reason). As I’ve mentioned in the past multiple times, I love purchasing music at the store and then ripping it myself, but it’s a lot more economical to pay a dollar to download a single track, if that’s all I’m looking for, from a particular artist or album. As soon as DRM was dropped, Apple earned me as a customer, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has begun using the store as a result of this move.

This post isn’t about my continuing support for iTunes though, but rather the laughable way in which some people get ripped off, and don’t even realize it. Take the popular YouTube video J**z In My Pants (viewer warning). In all regards, it’s hilarious, which is why I watched it near ten times. So what if a person wanted to go and purchase the video? Luckily, iTunes has it, and for only $1.49. But, that’s where the “rip-off” process begins.

See, while YouTube offers the video at an 854×479 resolution (yes, it’s actually that bizarre), the iTunes version is 640×352, almost half. Doesn’t that seem a bit odd? Paying for lesser quality? Sure, you can have the video on your own PC, but guess what? Downloading videos off of YouTube couldn’t be easier, and there are many programs out there that can do that (even legit applications like Nero offer that ability).

Thanks to one cool how-to I passed by yesterday, I found out how easy it is to save the videos in Linux. You simply go to the temp folder and grab it, and then add a file extension. From there, you can do whatever you want with it, whether you want to use it as is, or recode it for a media device. Here’s another plus, though. If you are saving an HD video, the resolution is actually 1280×720 (720p), which is now a resolution four times better than what’s available on iTunes.

It can be argued that downloading YouTube videos isn’t a noble practice, but for all intents and purposes, it seems to be. YouTube says you “can’t” download videos, but that’s because they don’t give you the ability. Once it’s cached in your browser, there’s nothing stopping you from going and grabbing it (the process in Windows is probably a little different, but I assume Mac OS X would be identical). So why exactly would someone want to pay $1.49 for a low-resolution offering, when they could go get a 720p version for free?

Simply put, content providers really need to start catering more to those who are actually paying money for these things. If YouTube offers a 720p version, then your $1.49 at iTunes should give you at least the same, or even a version with an improved bitrate. I realize I’m in the minority here, and most people won’t care, but if prices scaled a little more reasonably, I’d expect to see increased revenue all around. There’s no way I’m the only one who has clued into this.


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