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back to article UltraViolet: Hollywood's giant digital gamble is here

Hollywood's big plan to update the industry for the digital era - UltraViolet - comes to the UK on 26 December, the consortium behind it has revealed. It will be an inauspicious start, represented by just one new movie release, but there's no mistaking the ambition of the project. Three years in the planning, UV is Hollywood's …

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Bronze badge
FAIL

Got wrong which part was wrong

The music industry eventually got it right when they ditched DRM. History is full of DRM scams that quit working because hardware changed, a database was abandoned, or a rights manager went out of business. I won't touch DRM unless the media is so cheap that I'm fine with it playing only once.

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It's a compromise.. you heard of those?

DRM is necessary. Otherwise one malicious customer can, without any technical knowledge, flood the net with un-paid-for copies of the work. In that environment, no producer will release digital copies at all. When you purchase work, you're entering into a contract with its producer, and in any contract, there is compromise.

If the DRM is open to use on a wide range of devices, I'm okay with it. Previous attempts have been manufacturer-locked (Apple) or with unreasonable restrictions, or have required users to compromise their PC (Sony). This is a good balance between users' rights and producers'. The rolling cache of 12 authorised systems is plenty: it allows you to play a movie you own at a mate's house, or in multiple rooms in your house, but it prevents you farming your keys out on the internet.

Personally, I don't give a shit if it doesn't run on desktop Linux, as long as it runs on the Linux on my TV or Set-Top-Box. I'll pay the thirty or forty quid and buy an embedded player, because what I want is a viable, legal, alternative to video rental or cable/satellite VOD services. UV looks like being it, in the way that AppleTV most definitely wasn't.

In parallel to this, I hope they're also pushing for a unified licensing model across Europe. There's supposed to be a Single Market, but it's still impossible to legally download content from one EU member state if you live in another, even though there's no such restriction on physical-media copies of the same content.

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Yes. It sounds like another way of selling-without-selling to me. Another way of have their cake and eating it. Essentially they want you to buy something but after you have bought it you don't own it and you can't sell it. If anything about the industry or media changes in the future only the consumer can lose.

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re: kevin

While I agree with the sentiment that DRM is evil, I think it is the only way to get the content out there in the first place with DRM initially. Once everyone is used to the idea that digital distribution is commonplace a big player (non content producer) needs to step in and set up a distribution system that get the DRM stripped out.

Similar to what happened with iTunes.

Of course the risk is that it all remains in the hands of the production companies in which case everyone fires up torrents like they do currently.

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Anonymous Coward

If I buy the UV 'lifetime licence' on a work...

...does that make one legal to enjoy the DRM-stripped version one pulls off a torrent?

There are a good number of titles I would be happy to pay a reasonable price to licence so long as I was free to consume them without the DRM inconvenience factor.

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Anonymous Coward

Devil in the details

The difference here is that the DRM isn't used as a stick to make "the consumer" behave exactly as he is told to by "the provider". It's still DRM, and as such it's no surprise you're leery --I know I am too-- but there appears to be much more customer-centric thinking behind its use; less "you can't haave it" but more "here's the deal", and some parts of it are quite unprecedented for the telco-thinking* entertainment industry.

And with all but one of the big ones in the industry behind it, you run a bit less risk of some server having a hiccup or someone going titsup depriving you of all the content locked in the format. It's still there, of course, but less looming.

Maybe the DRM will make the scheme collapse again, yet maybe it'll be a showcase of "DRM done right", or maybe something else again. We'll see how it pans out. In fact some of us will have a whale of a time figuring out the limitations. Can you still play those DVDs with uv branding and codes without uv support, without going online at all? That sort of thing.

Or maybe the scheme will prove untenable on its own. We might find, for example, that they'll have to price their "digital showings" low enough for view-once because that's where the value perception is, while they're locking themselves into "lifetime" streaming availability guarantees. Banking on digital delivery costs falling until imperceptible, may or may not work on the scale they're dealing with.

The real kicker isn't so much the DRM, but the fact the scale just might make it appear to work, at which point the whole thing is back on the table. And the way to kill it might turn out to be to make as much use of the "lifetime" rights the scheme gives you as you possibly can. Welcome to the brave new digital world.

* You know, how they're becoming really just ISP-like data pipes, and they resent the notion of not "owning the consumer" any longer, which they've been doing much less than they'd like to believe anyway.

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On the other hand, Steam in the gaming industry is proof positive that DRM, when applied in the right manner, can be something people will turn out strongly in favor of. I understand the concept of DRM-free, but sometimes people don't care that there are fences if the field is large enough. That's what UV is shooting for, and we'll see if it hits its target.

It probably needs more advertising if it's going to survive, though. As is, if it crashes and fails, I can't imagine Hollywood trying again anytime soon. Which may be the point.

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Go

Almost right...

I believe the thinking here is that if the DRM scheme on your down loaded copy isn't compatible with your new device, you can just log in and download a copy that is.

You are not restricted to just one download. This is the big change.

That said, does it work on Linux? No? Well, it'll get cracked then.

I can see the DRM getting dropped eventually, just with mp3s.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Got wrong which part was wrong

Ever signed up to a OD2-run music shop that collapsed and lost all the music you had a 'lifetime' right to listen to? After the MSN music store shut down their DRM servers in 2008 I swore I'd never trust another service like that again because such promises are utterly meaningless. I'll just buy the discs and rip them thanks, then they'll work on devices whose manufacturers haven't paid a huge licence fee to the studios.

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Linux

I'm generally with you (Kevin) on DRM. The one time I bought a DRM'd audio book I regretted it, and buying Kindle ebooks as Christmas gifts is fairly impossible.

However this scheme seems to avoid the bad points of both. I can buy a DVD as a gift and the recipient can convert it to digital form. And if the DRM'd version I have goes obsolete, I have a lifetime license to download a new copy.

That assumes that UV itself has a long life, of course.

Tux, because we can always hope that UV supports it, but it probably wont.

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re:

Wow

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Happy

The issue with DRM has always been WAAAAY too much lockdown. If it's 'light' enough and smart enough to not interfere with legitimate users it won't even be noticed. 5 users and 12 devices, all of which can be rotated, seems pretty good to me.

The real key to all this is:

"a universal, lifetime right to watch a movie in any format they want; it may be streamed to any device from the cloud, or downloaded to any device".

This is basically what the vast majority of consumers have been asking for, and it sure as hell beats the 'walled garden' Apple/Disney concept

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"DRM is necessary. Otherwise one malicious customer can, without any technical knowledge, flood the net with un-paid-for copies of the work."

As opposed to anyone being able to download a copy already ripped and DRM removed?

Even without DRM most DVD watchers wouldn't know how to rip it to an AVI file. Hardly a flooded market.

Another advantage of the lack of DRM is being able to skip all the crap on a disk. The other half bought a film the other day. We had to sit through the anti-piracy warning and trailers for other films (which might not even be popular the next time we ever watch it). If I had downloaded it instead, we could have skipped all that and started watching the film when we wanted, not 15 minutes later.

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Entering into a contract?

Where is the paperwork with my signature? When I buy something, I buy something. No paper work, no contract.

And your user with no technical knowledge would need some to flood the internet. How many people know how to create and publish a torrent?

I wish you a long and happy life with your love of DRM. The industry needs more people like you.

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@King Jack - buying something *is* a contract

A contract is not a piece of paper, it's a set of obligations. When you buy a Big Mac, you are agreeing to an obligation to give a valid payment to McDonalds, in exchange for which they become obliged to give you a Big Mac that matches your expectations of what a Big Mac is.

A quick search for "Contract Law" will give you more information, and it's useful to know if you ever get into a dispute with a retailer or service provider.

The contract you entered into when you "bought" a CD or DVD is that, in exchange for the money you handed over, the producer granted you the right to replay their work as many times as you wanted for the length of time you owned the media. If you sell on the media, you lose this right. A right you were never given was to make additional copies and give them away.

Copying always happened, but as long as it was only among a circle of friends, there wasn't any real issue: copies couldn't spread far, so the loss of income was limited. However, thanks to the net, users with no technical knowledge can use ripping software, upload sites and web forums. Once it's up there, the peer-to-peer networks get it quick enough, and one ripped movie can be distributed to thousands of people. And the excuse that these thousands wouldn't have bought it anyway is bogus - do you wait to see how a football match ends before deciding to buy a ticket? Do people who actually *enjoyed* a fileshared movie really go and buy it legitimately? The figures say they don't. That's why we're in this position.

I don't have a particular love of DRM, but, unlike many people here, I recognise it as a necessary evil - the producers of the content require some protection from widespread piracy. The DRM proposed by UltraViolet allows sharing, as opposed to copying, of media.

There seems to be an unquestioning black-and-white view on this issue, that DRM is evil, full stop. It isn't. There are degrees of rights, and degrees of DRM, and this system gives the customer as good a deal as they get from purchasing the physical media, without the hassle of ripping and re-coding it. Like a book, I can share this, but not redistribute copies.

I hear lots of arguments against DRM, but they boil down to wanting something without having to pay for it. Well, I want a Maserati Quattroporte, but it doesn't mean I'm going to get one. If you can come up with an adequate reason why you require the right to make an unlimited number of copies of a copyrighted work that doesn't involve profiting from someone else's efforts, then fire away, I'm all ears.

And yes, the industry does need more people like me: customers who want the convenience of downloads and are willing to pay for them -- provided the deal I'm getting is fair. Where you and I differ is on what constitutes "fair"...

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Whats lifetime mean

My lifetime, the lifetime of the last person living in my cosy group, or an arbitrary period set by the publishers?

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I play my music on many devices. Having bought the CD or LP I'm not going to jump through hoops to play my music on those devices. Same goes to a lesser extent movies. I don't want to put my trust in a company only for it to pull out and leave me high and dry. Remember "plays for sure?" There was also some crap put on CDs recently which meant some CD players could not play them. 10 minutes of hacking and I had freed the music from it's shackles. More fun than listening to it. On that occasion the disc went back. So sue me.

I do not give free copies to anyone so I'm not profiteering. I'm just using my legally purchased content in anyway I see fit. Once money has changed hands, it's mine and I'll make a 1000 copies if it entertains me to do so. Nowhere does it say that I can only 'listen' to my music. I may want to make mobiles from the cds. I'll do that if the fancy takes me. I won't be asking a remote server for any permission.

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A wise man once told me...

"That when encountering a goldmine one must prepare oneself for the shaft."

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FAIL

Meh!

The one UV title I've tried has monumentally failed to play off anything but the BluRay disk. I had high hopes but Im not going to hold my breath.

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It's a good start.

The music industry, however, seems to be inhabited by people of limited foresight. This solution is exactly what they are screaming for, but the choose to just be.

I suppose time will tell, but if the UV tag only costs a few beans more, I'd be happy.

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I'm not willing to pay extra for it

At least, not on top of a DVD or BluRay. However, if I could pay a little extra on a cinema ticket and get UV access then I'd probably do that, even if it's a case of redeeming now and being given access only once the home versions become available.

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It sounds generally OK

This actually seems like a sensible plan, so I must have misunderstood something.

Currently I haven't really messed about with downloads and have stuck with my own version on dvd. I have ripped one or two of these for convenience sake but actually don't pass around to other people as that would be a bit naughty.

If the price is right then I might well consider the ease and convenience (and it had better be easy and convenient !) worth looking into and possibly spending a bit of money on kit if needed.

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Dis'nae like it

Disney's business model is to sell the same old crap to each new generation of mother-and-toddler. They even do cinema releases of old stuff every so often.

Licence for life doesn't at first appear to be compatible with that.

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but.....

Does ultraviolet have subtitles on downloads and streaming?

Think about the deaf and hard of hearing people!

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Defective by design

"The whole idea is not to use DRM to force you to pay each time, but to reward you for paying with lots of options."

How about rewarding customers for paying with DRM-free downloads, so you are imposing no restrictions on their options?

Yes, I can see why movie studios would want DRM, but if they're going to have it, I wish they'd have the integrity to admit that the DRM is purely for their benefit, rather than trying to pretend that software which is designed solely to prevent the purchaser doing things somehow helps consumers.

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Happy

"How about rewarding customers for paying with DRM-free downloads"

I can see the studio's point of view in this. Instead of saying - here's your DRM-free download, you can do with it everything you like, they are now saying - here's your DRM-lite download, you can do everything you like with it EXCEPT make it available as a torrent to the general public.

That seems pretty fair to me.

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Stop

In theory, theory is the same as practice, but in practice, it isn't

That wold be a reasonable thing for a copyright holder to require, and, indeed, they do require it with their licence. Unfortunately, that's just not how DRM works. The very nature of DRM requires that it prevent you from doing *everything* that you're not explicitly allowed by the provider to do (even if such things are permitted by the law, for instance making a backup copy), and furthermore from doing it on platforms and devices a DRM client hasn't been provided for. Far too many people are seduced by the idea of what DRM *should* do, and ignore that in reality what it actually does falls far short of that.

The alternative is to say "well, you've shown evidence of your bona-fides by ponying up some cash, here's your DRM-free version to do what you wish with; we'll trust you to abide by the licence". This is more or less what iTunes is doing now. Yes, some people will have it on the Pirate Bay before they've finished watching it, but most of those people would cheerfully crack the DRM if it had it, too. In short, all DRM does is make it more difficult for people to make legitimate use of things they've bought, while being little more than a speed bump for the pirates.

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: In theory, theory is the same as practice, but in practice, it isn't

That's not a useful generalisation, DRM is contingent on the rights granted, these vary in each instance in practice. The proposition in its entirety is what is judged.

I never bought DRM digital music, the convenience of the instant purchase was outweighed by 1) the ecosystem lock-in and lack of portability, and 2) my political disapproval of DRM.

Neither the ecosystem lock-in nor political views stopped lots of people buying DRM music. Once DRM was lifted I bought lots of digital music online.

In UV the ecosystem issue does not apply. A consumer gains more "rights" than they have today. So you are left with the political issue. Which is something most people don't have, and has to be measured against the convenience.

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Anonymous Coward

It's all fun and games

until your email address provider goes under.

How many people will automatically use their work address? How many people will use their ISP address and then move ISPs?

I hope there's a way of recovering from dead email addresses and I hope the same mechanism can't be used to nick other people's film viewing rights.

It seems like a step in the right direction, but if I own the blu-ray disk, why would I want to stream across the internet from some other source, or why would I watch it on Sky or from Tescos? I might want to stream locally, so why not just add ethernet and streaming-enable the blu-ray player?

It would seem to be much easier to just make any retailer who streams for sale (rather than rentals) send you a DVD/BR disk in the post so you have physical media too.

If you think you can create an uncrackable video client, you have another think coming! You may as well just be nice to your customers.

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lifetime ?

Lifetime. Let me guess that'll be some strange usage of the word like:

Free, a phone that costs you only fifty pounds a month subscription.

Unlimited, unless you actually try to use any of the bandwidth.

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Anonymous Coward

Yes, it isn't your lifetime, it's the product's lifetime which has now expired. Buy another copy!

That kind of lifetime.

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Agreed, Bob ...

... especially when the companies don't see the leap in revenue that they believe is being lost to pirating (but is actually mainly down to not producing that much that that many people want to spend money on).

Just wait - two years, and the restrictions will tighten because the inflated forecasts based on the wrong assumptions haven't been met.

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nice image

A human head, stripped of flesh and nailed down. What a lovely image with which to set up store. Is it a metaphor?

Looks like a decent system, though for the pirate demographic probably still not more attractive than rips.

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People will pirate. This is unavoidable.

A small number will pirate anything they get their hands on. This is inevitable. They will never stop.

The majority can, but can't be bothered. And the lower the barrier to getting what they want, how they want, the less piracy.

It's a nice little step in the right direction. How important a step is yet to be seen.

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finally

great, how could they be blind for so long. this was the obvious solution since the times of napster!

now what happens if this property is bought while in a marriage, after divorce?

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Sounds like it might pass the test...

...of letting me see the digital copy before my DVD ripper of choice has done the same job.

Every other "digital locker" system I've tried has failed this test up to now (yes, that's a whole integer greater than zero...)

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Anonymous Coward

ULTRAVIOLET WAS A CRAP......

Film, this will probably go the same way.

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Anonymous Coward

...But it was a fine TV series; so who's to say...

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Anonymous Coward

Fine TV series

that was canned after one season....just when it was geting realy good!

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The film and the series were not connected in any way.

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Anonymous Coward

Isn't that Final Destination picture banned?

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Thumb Up

Well that all looks and sounds fine to me!

So I have to wonder: (A) What's wrong with me? (B) What am I not seeing?

As far as the "it's got DRM it must be bad" argument, well, one universal code, 12 devices allowed at any one time, several simultaneous streams, a seemingly huge mix of supporters for the format, yes I think I can live with that. Yes Disney/Apple are the wolf in the room, but how long can they stand to stay out of this? A year? Two? It seems to me that a year from now if I was in the market for a film from Disney and a film from a studio that supported this I would be tempted to go for the one that supported this. Based on what I know now.

All in all I actually feel like I want this to work.

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But is a film tied to my account for ever or can I sell it on to someone else?

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I was wondering this too...

Actually I was wondering what happens if I buy the DVD and register the code, then sell on the DVD.

Am I still able to watch the online version of the film? I suppose so as I've licenced the thing forever.

Is the next owner of the physical disc unable to register for the online version? I guess the can watch the disc.

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Worth a go...

If this works as described in the article then I'm willing to give it a shot. If all the major studios and Tech companies are on-board so that this is all seemless then why not give it a go.

I would still very closely check the licencing agreement to be sure I'm covered if they decided to discontinue the service, but if I'm buying it on DVD/Blu-ray and getting the stream/cloud copy 'for free' (assuming no markup) then I still have the physical copy anyway.

As long as the cost and licencing is right then I'll be all on board - when it finally hits Oz that is.

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Stop

It all sounds great, but...

It all sounds great, but there must be a catch (call me cynical), and I'm disappointed that this article hasn't raised any questions about it.

Anything with DRM means it takes time to be adopted by various platforms, and a download with DRM will have numerous restrictions as to what you can do with it.

What's the quality of the download?

Will a DVD UV cloud copy be the same quality as a Blu-Ray purchased one?

Will there be regional restrictions (buy in the UK, can't watch in the Middle East)?

Will UV require software programmers to pay for a licence for the DRM system (who will pass the cost on to us)?

Will a UV film cost more than a non-UV film?

What quality will this 'lifetime licence' be (sound, resolution etc)? What about in 10 years time when we might have 4K films? I'm sure the film industry is making a reasonable amount of cash because we 'upgrade' from DVD to Blu-Ray; are they really going to pass up on the revenue at the next update? If they will provide 'free' upgrades, can you really see the studios bothering to update older films if there's no money in it?

It's a good direction to go in, but too many unknowns about the future mean people might be hesitant to pay extra for it (if UV is more expensive). If they marketed it as cloud storage for your films, then they might make more headway.

Anyway, we shall see.

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It'll be cracked within a year, don't worry about it.

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It's not clear to me

how the "digital file" works.

Am I only going to be able to play a movie if I'm connected to the Internet?

No playing movies on flights then?

If that is the case then it is a big fat fail.

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: It's not clear to me

"No playing movies on flights then?"

Download a copy or take the disc with you.

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