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UltraViolet ownership model gets adopted

UltraViolet.jpgYou might remember I wrote about UltraViolet, a new way to own content. You buy a DVD or a digital version of a film and the system allows you to download it to multiple devices and even share it among your family without having to get multiple copies. While the concept sounded great it needed adoption in order for it to work, the customers need to have it in systems that they are using, otherwise it remains a concept.

Things are changing for UltraViolet as news arrived this week of adoption of the digital rights management system for the home user, and this does have strong implications for you if you purchase films in your home.

First of all if you want to have a refresher on what the service is all about read up on two previous articles I wrote, Can UltraViolet stop piracy and save the digital marketplace? and Anti-piracy system UltraViolet gets adopted? - both these articles will explain more about the service and what it would mean for you, the consumer.

Actually I think it sounds a good service. It would mean purchasing a copy of a film, in any format, and being able to get hold of it for free in a number of other formats, as well as sharing your digital locker and content with other members of your family, again for free.

Samsung announced that they will be building UltraViolet into a new Blu-ray player, this will take owner's existing DVDs and Blu-rays and, assuming you sign up to the service, upload their details to the UltraViolet service, or digital locker as it is being called.

This means that you won't have to wait for your film to be released in approved UltraViolet format and your back catalogue will be compatible with the new service. This was perhaps the biggest stumbling block for the service; customers already have tons of films that were potentially not compatible with the service.

The news was announced through Engadget who also have the original press release which tells us the player will come with a button on the remote marked "disc to digital" which will upload your DVD or Blu-ray details to the UltraViolet service and then allow you to access the digital version.

Deadline have other news, and I'd say potentially bigger news, that Amazon has also signed up to the service. They have a new agreement with an undisclosed studio that the writer believes is Warner Bros., that when they sell an UltraViolet enabled disc they will also enable the digital streams for the sale, through the UltraViolet service.

Both are rather large commitments, although the Amazon one is a safe bet as they already digitally stream films and they're committing to stream any UltraViolet disc sold and enabled with the UltraViolet system. This assumes that the purchaser has the hardware to enable the disc on UltraViolet and then wishes to stream or download it to another device, not a large number I would assume.

Looking back to an article from December last year in The Guardian, they reveal that Warner Bros., Sony Pictures and Fox were backing the UK launch of the service. The article revealed that seventy-five companies were behind the launch including LOVEFiLM, Sky and Tesco.

Warner Bros. has already taken a huge step and been the first to launch an absolute classic of a film that will have people clambering for digital versions through the UltraViolet service, Final Destination 5. Perhaps not.

Tesco also revealed that they would use the service to offer digital copies of films to their customers for free when they purchased a disc through its Blinkbox service.

Right now it's sounding a little piecemeal, a little pick and choose with the services. For instance why aren't all discs sold through Tesco being offered with the option to play a digital version, and why does it have to be a digital version streamed from Tesco?

Surely this means that if the company I buy the disc from doesn't have streaming capabilities then the UltraViolet side of the offering is useless? Could I buy a DVD from a small mail order company, upload the details to my UltraViolet digital locker on my new Samsung Blu-ray player, and then download copies to my PC and Android Tablet from LOVEFiLM or Blinkbox?

No, it doesn't look like that's the case, and suddenly for customers the model is flawed. UltraViolet only works if you purchase from a store that has both streaming and disc supplying potential, and what happens if they close down their streaming? Do you lose the ability to get hold of the digital version of the film?



My problem with Ultraviolet is that you can download the movie but you have to watch it through their interfaces. If I downloaded it and put it on my iPad I have to open Flixster, I can't just access the video directly. Why? Why can't I just watch it like every other digital download? Because in the end they'll either tie you with an ad or a membership fee not to see the ads. That's what is coming. That isn't how a digital version of a film should work. I bought it. I should control it. Not them. So I would continue to burn my own digital copies to give myself control of my content, if it weren't illegal...


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