To Digital Theatre re. ‘The Crucible’

Dear Digital Theatre Customer Service,

On the 18th of March 2015 I PURCHASED an HD copy of ‘The Crucible’ via Digital Theatre (I still have the e-mail receipt, see attached PDF file).

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At the time I was very disappointed that I wouldn’t actually be getting my own download copy (e.g. in mp4 format) for something I have purchased. I always fear buying something that can only be viewed on a certain website as I always wonder, “what happens if the website closes, how will I then access my property?” I was willing to take the risk with Digital Theatre because:

  • as an avid Richard Armitage fan, I so very much wanted to be able to access ‘The Crucible’ whenever I wanted to!
  • I had also paid to see the play live in London at The Old Vic in July 2014 and I was so very impressed by it, I wanted to own a copy of the play to re-capture the feeling I had had after seeing the play live.
  • This purchase also has a very personal meaning to me. It was something I know my father would also have enjoyed and it was a small consolation gift to myself just after my beloved father had died.

Now, to my surprise, I find that I will have to start paying a monthly subscription fee for Digital Theatre if I want to be able to continue watching ‘The Crucible’! I am flabbergasted by this suggestion! I bought something so I could own it forever, much like all the books and DVDs I have bought over the years. I could have chosen to not buy those books and DVDs and borrow them from a library, but my choices to purchase have been deliberate, just as my choice to purchase ‘The Crucible’ has been deliberate. I want to own my own personal library, so that I don’t have to depend on outsiders when I want to view or read something that has meaning to me.

A library or an online subscription service such as Netflix can chose to not carry a certain title anymore in their collection. That is why I don’t ever want to depend on them for my own collection, just as I had not wanted to depend on Digital Theatre for my own collection. Netflix or libraries never promised me ownership of titles and I am aware of that when I subscribe to them. Digital Theatre, however, has promised me ownership of ‘The Crucible’ and I chose to trust them with the assurance that I would forever be able to access my ‘The Crucible’ copy for free after purchase! I now see I was wrong to place my trust in Digital Theatre and it is a huge disappointment to me!

I take it that Digital Theatre wants to be the Netflix of theatre and it is a lovely gesture that the first 6 months of DT subscription are free for me as a previous customer, but I can’t afford to (and don’t want to) pay a monthly fee of 8 pounds after those 6 months to access my own property!

An easy solution would be to refund my money but that doesn’t solve anything for me! What I am instead requesting is that you make an mp4 download available of my HD “The Crucible” purchase so that I won’t have to worry anymore about being able to enjoy what I have actually bought!

I await your positive reply!

Esther

38 thoughts on “To Digital Theatre re. ‘The Crucible’

        1. Well, I can access my account (after a password reset) but the tab “Purchase History” next to my “Personal Details” page doesn’t open. So, I have no ‘purchase history’ anymore? Or do I first have to activate the subscription service (giving my credit card details!) before I can see that? Nope, I will not do that, I don’t trust them anymore…

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    1. Glad you also sent an e-mail! I hope lots of protest will help.

      They have apparently now made a statement: https://digitaltheatre.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/115012020748-A-message-from-Digital-Theatre-regarding-recent-website-changes,
      which says: “Any customer that has previously purchased a production, that would prefer not to take advantage of our subscription offer, should contact support@digitaltheatre.com, where our support team will arrange for a free long-term rental of the production you purchased to be loaded to your account.”

      Long-term RENTAL? I own it, don’t I, why would I want a long-term rental? What happens in 5 years time when there is some new policy or ‘The Crucible’ is deemed old and no longer popular and gets taken down? I really want to have the mp4 file for myself (or a DVD or something), I don’t trust Digital Theatre to keep it for me for the next 40 years…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Your post already says everything that I wanted to say, too. And their offer in response is not acceptable. It is simply not what I paid for. I agree with you that a download would do the trick. It’s as easy as that.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Yep! I still want to be able to view this in my rocking chair at the nursing home in 40 years time and they are cheating me out of that with their ‘purchase’ promise that was never actually a purchase… Grrr…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. A lot of people are pissed. I’m pissed for you. This is bad bad bad business judgement on someone’s part. Personally, I hope someone contacts their attorney… continues the huge stink on social media. This is piss poor business acumen.

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        1. I think this is a part of a bigger issue as well. It’s a huge hype to save everything ‘in the cloud’ because you can access everything from everywhere and you can never lose anything because some company (preferably for them for a fee) will save it online for you. But who knows if all those clouds will remain available? Who can guarantee that everything I save on, say, my OneDrive will still be available in 40 years time? What if for example Microsoft goes belly-up and can’t provide OneDrive access anymore?

          My husband is an adviser for digital archiving for the Dutch government where things need to be saved for a long long time so that historians can access the information 100 years from now. The question of digital durability is a complicated one in itself, not to mention the durability of archiving in the cloud!

          The stuff Digital Theatre is doing is a perfect example of how f***ed we are if we all blindly trust online companies to save what we own…

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  1. I sent an email last night too, although not nearly so eloquent as yours! I’m not sure why they can’t still offer ownership. Apple has subscription for music or ownership, and they have both rent and own for movies.

    What will DT do if another RA production is filmed? With an own or long term rental option they will make more money from us than if we only rent once or subscribe for one month.

    I have a player only on my iPhone (otherwise I used the website). So on the iPhone app I can see my purchases but they won’t load and play.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t like iTunes and only have one movie that I once purchased via them. Even after purchase my locally downloaded copy is encoded in such a way that it won’t play on anything else but iTunes. So, if I want to view it on another device that doesn’t have iTunes installed on it, it won’t play! While I do have a downloaded copy it will be useless to me should iTunes one day cease to exist. So, do I basically need to find an illegal way to decode a movie I purchased legally just so that I can view it ony any device I want? All these restrictions, also regional ones, are so outdated in a global digital world!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Servetus

      I suspect that whatever rights they bought from the Miller Estate did not include the right to distribute DVDs or unprotected downloads. (My suspicion is mainly because the download was relatively reasonably priced.) Or that someone else already owns those rights for North America.

      Liked by 1 person

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    1. Thanks for the link-love and I very much agree with what you wrote on your blog! Just copy/pasting my response to you there here as well:

      Also, I hate it that when you download something and you can ONLY view it via that platform. For example, I have a local mp4 copy of a movie I purchased via iTunes but it is coded in such a way that the mp4 will ONLY play within the iTunes player. So, if I want to play it on a device where I don’t have iTunes installed it won’t play.

      This whole digital market is aimed at corporate profit and doesn’t take into account that users view things on different platforms and on different continents. Same with Berlin Station that can only be viewed via yet another subscription (Epix or Amazon video) and at that only in certain countries. All these companies competing for their own profits and no cooperation. I wish for one global supplier that supplies EVERYTHING in the world, regardless of where you are in the world, via actual download if desired. But that would mean consolidating and lesser profit and countries working together for broadcasting rights/laws. In a world where the tendency is towards isolation (Brexit for example) that would never happen. I can so understand why pirating is so popular…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Servetus

        Well, that’s exactly what Amazon would like to have happen. But I don’t think that would be in consumer interest in the end.There would be a race to the bottom price wise and then once competition had been eliminated, the prices would rise, and rise, and rise …

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Servetus

            Every time a student tells me that books have been superseded, I laugh. There’s a reason the format lasted so long, because the people who came up with it, back in the sands of time, were primarily concerned with the preservation and dissemination of information as opposed to profit and planned obsolescence.

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  3. I also sent an email, two actually, and am waiting on a reply that more than likely be sometime next week.. They are closed Monday.. I think a download would be a great idea to those who purchased, and a simple solution… Guess we will have to wait and see at the response to our emails…

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Thanks to you as well for the link-love! I already have a draft second blog post ready addressing Digital Theatre for the forthcoming signal boost… I know there are bigger things to be angry about in the world, but with this I feel that my anger may possibly be useful in hopefully changing something.

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