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Best-Of Lists Show Hollywood's Online Efforts At Their Best and Worst

About this time every December, The Post's culture critics list their favorite works of the year. Beyond giving readers something to talk about (in my case, about how old I feel when I can't recognize most of the bands named), these top-10 lists also provide an opportunity to gauge how well Hollywood makes its best movies and music available online.

In other words: Of the top 10 albums and movies our critics picked, how many can you buy or rent on the Internet? I looked at four of the most popular online stores for music and movie downloads: Apple's iTunes, Amazon's MP3 and "Video on Demand" stores and and Netflix's "Watch Instantly" service.

Things look good overall in the music market. Among J. Freedom du Lac's 10 favorite albums of 2008, only one (Rhymefest and Mark Ronson's "Man in the Mirror") wasn't available on both iTunes and Amazon. Amazon usually had better prices and, as ever, an absence of "digital rights management" usage controls; iTunes only carried two albums, by the Fleet Foxes and Thao Nguyen, in Apple's equally DRM-free iTunes Plus format.

As for movies? I'm afraid, but not surprised, that the download situation remains a mess. Setting aside the five movies on Ann Hornaday's top-10 list that are still in theaters, two ("The Edge of Heaven" and "Chicago 10") are DVD-only, with no download options at Amazon, iTunes or Netflix. The remaining three are available only at a single online store: Amazon has "The Visitor" for purchase or rent, iTunes has "Wall-E" for purchase but not rent, and Amazon offers "Man on Wire" for purchase but not rent.

Isn't it just great to see that the movie industry's simple, logical and efficient business model continues to perform so fabulously well at delivering titles to customers?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  December 30, 2008; 12:30 PM ET
Categories:  Music , The Web , Video  
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To make the contrast even more glaring, "Man in the Mirror" is a mixtape that was never commercially released (they didn't even try to get the sample clearances). So Amazon and iTunes have all of the commercially available albums on J. Freedom's list.

Posted by: Lindemann777 | December 30, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

The movie situation is worse than you imagine. While you can rent/buy movies electronically, only the pirated editions are truly 1080/720 with a high bit rates.

Here's the kicker... the legitimate stuff doesn't have the DTS-HD soundtracks, but instead the rather pedestrian Dolby Surround sound.

To make matters worse, when you look into buying the Blu-Ray disks, they're still pricing them at $25 each, with sales on hoary old movies at $18. I don't know about you, but it would be exceedingly dumb to pay $25 for a a single movie.

So to get good picture and sound, you either rent the blu-ray disk at blockbuster for $5 or pirate it. Yikes! In neither case do they get much revenue for their high-def content.

You'd swear the people running the MPAA are retarded. They clearly don't get it.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | December 31, 2008 5:52 AM | Report abuse

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