When the United States Library of Congress created a policy that amounted to law, I made a passing remark about downloading movies in the aftermath of my local video store shutting down.

While Blockbuster Video isn’t responsible for the way people watch movies, Netflix may be. Yesterday, the movies-through-the-mail-and-over-the-Internet company announced a deal with three major movie studios to stream their media to subscribers over the Internet.

Before you get too excited (as I did for a moment) read the fine print.

Netflix is getting the right to stream new-ish movies to its users. The delivery lags the period during which the movies will be available in the dwindling number of freestanding video rental stores, but I’m OK with that part; the movie studios had to keep their existing customers happy, and probably have contractual obligations to do so.

But once on Netflix the movies will be available for a limited period of time, and then disappear as they become the sole purvey of television networks. In fairness, that’s a lot like what I mentioned relative to the slight delay in movies becoming available on Netflix, but in the real world it means that for some variable period of time anyone who wishes to see those movies, formerly available at the local Blockbuster store, will have only one option: download them illegally.

This is not business change, it’s business head-in-the-sand.

Kudos to the movie studios for seeing that Netflix and streaming need to be embraced. But until we can use Netflix to see whatever movies we wish to see, I’m not going to be excited about using them.

I guess TV will be with us for a while longer . . .

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