On the stupidity of content owners and astronomy

by davidnielsen

Why I wonder are content owners so exceedingly stupid? A bit of background might be required to understand my frustration, The History Channel has been running an excellent series called “The Universe”, I so happened to have seen parts of this and during the show they flash up an ad saying that the show is available for sale on their website. Wonderful, someone finally gets that I’m interested in getting my shows now rather than in 6 months when the network plans to release them as part of the promotion for the upcoming season. However they ship only to the US and Canada, furthermore the title is labelled as a History.com exclusive – wanting to support their fine effort in actually putting good science on TV rather than reality TV, pointless soulless talent shows or teleevangelists I then shot them a mail asking very politely if they would mind making special arrangements to ship a copy out to me. Their reply:

Thank you for contacting A&E Home Video and The History Channel.

Unfortunately, due to rights clearance issues our programs are currently
only available for sale in North America. Therefore, we cannot ship any
items outside of the United States, our territories and/or possessions and

I would suggest performing a keyword search for the title(s) or subject
matter you are looking for at an online site appropriate for your area to
see if there are any retailers who might carry the item or something

What these people seem to be forgetting is that they are competing with free. I could go download high quality copies and not pay a cent for your shows, infact I feel entitled to do so as I already pay to subscribe to their channel as part of my package, if this specific show aired on their european branch I could have taped it I don’t see much difference really. However I volunteer to reward them for furthering an effort to bring back a thinking society so much so indeed that I’m willing to have DVDs shipped halfway across the world and instead I am slapped in the face with a song and dance about rights and then encouraged to look up a local service… for a title they themselves labelled as exclusive to their online outlet.

Yes I can see how pirates are singlehandedly bringing down the entertainment industry, even when we willingly offer to throw money at you, you are not interested.

There is one other astronomy fix I would love to get, The Teaching Company’ recently updated “Understanding the Universe: An Introduction to Astronomy” – sadly these people forget that money doesn’t grow on trees and as much as I’d love hearing Dr. Alex Filippenko explain to me how the universe works and give me a healthy dose of science… 799.99$ is just a bit steep for my pocket, maybe in a few months, especially since VAT and customs will have to be added (I feel like I just got sucker punched by the invisible hand of the market).

For now my craving for an understanding of the cosmos from which we all came will have to be forfilled by Astronomy Cast. While that is a fine resource and getting a weekly update on the latest science is most informing I do find the explanations a bit hard to follow without visual aids and the cosmos in all it’s beauty does demand some visuals if for anything but to inspire an urge to learn.