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back to article WTF is... UltraViolet

Reg Hardware Gizmo Week logo small We're all used to buying movies and TV series on disc. Many of us are accustomed to downloading films and shows from the likes of Apple's iTunes. A fair few of us stream video content from Netflix or Lovefilm. Wouldn't it better to combine all three into a single system? Such a combo is what …

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A grave misconception

"yes, all this involves DRM, to prevent folk giving content away to all and sundry."

No, not to prevent you giving away - it's to make sure that every single use of the content is explicitly sanctioned by the "rights holder". So that they could stop you from using it at any time they like and so that you could not invent a new way of using the content without a prior approval by them.

Why can't people see it? Must be something they put in the water, or I will start believing in chemtrails soon...

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Re: A grave misconception

>it's to make sure that every single use of the content is explicitly sanctioned by the "rights holder". So that they could stop you from using it at any time they like and so that you could not invent a new way of using the content without a prior approval by them. ... Why can't people see it?

The reason people 'can't see it' is because its clearly wrong. If you buy a blu-ray disk and UV it, the blueray disk doesn't magically disappear.

I'm all for pointing out the stupidities of DRM, but there are enough of them, without having to invent ones.

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Re: A grave misconception

Rubbish.

Sorry to be so blunt, but DRM is ** all ** about stopping you giving it away. The article even says as much when talking about UV positioning itself as the legal alternative to pirate downloading. You own the right to view your content*, plain and simple; if that is taken away then the DECE partners could expect a fairly massive legal fight.

I'm with the previous poster on this; there are enough valid reasons to hate DRM without having to invent new (stupid) ones.

* yes I know; right to view is very different to owning the content itself

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"if that is taken away then the DECE partners could expect a fairly massive legal fight."

Not really, the OnLive system already reserves the right to delete games and not give you access to them any more despite the fact that you have paid full price for them. I'm sure UV will do the same.

If you have the rights to some classic hammer horror movies in ultra high def and they see only 2 or 3 downloads a month they will just turn them off to save disk space. There will be no massive legal fight as you imagine.

When you are done with a DVD you can sell it second hand. You can't sell your right to access a stream to someone else (I'm guessing they won't allow that in their contract).

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@Chris 3 BD does not disappear

"If you buy a blu-ray disk and UV it, the blueray disk doesn't magically disappear."

Read AACS white paper on key revocation.

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@Chris 3 & Lord Elpuss

Well, you just proved me right. I think the diagnosis can be called "can't see woods for the trees".

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Re: A grave misconception

It is all about this petty control, and getting you used to it before they discontinue optical disks in a decade or so.

Why bother stopping you copying anyway? if you are a dedicated 'freetard' you will get it pirated easily enough, so its not like those are going to change.

Make it nice & easy to use without needing an "approved" device (i.e. no DRM) and make the price & availability right and it will succeed. Sadly I fear they have not quite learned that yet...

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@Thomas 18 re OnLive removing games

Not true.

Unless you violate the T&Cs, OnLive guarantee access to your purchased titles for a minimum of 3 years (and they make it clear when purchasing that you are purchasing a timed play license), and if removed or unplayable before this time you are entitled to a pro-rated refund. Because it counts as a purchased products, your statutory rights as a consumer are valid and protected by international law.

From the OnLive T&Cs;

=================================================================

What is a PlayPass?

A PlayPass grants you access to play a game for a specified period of time. Membership is required to purchase and use a PlayPass. PlayPass options available:

Full: Provides unlimited access to the selected game throughout its supported lifetime on the OnLive service. We expect to keep all games supported for as long as people continue to play them, but at a minimum, all current games will be supported for 3 years after their release on the OnLive Service.

5-Day: Provides unlimited access to the selected game for five (5) days from purchase.

3-Day: Provides unlimited access to the selected game for three (3) days from purchase.

** In the highly unlikely situation that a game becomes permanently unavailable before the minimum term of your PlayPass, you will receive a prorated refund. **

=================================================================

I stand by my original point, that DRM is a distribution restriction mechanism, not (necessarily) a kill switch. And Vladimir, key revocation and reissuing means that any *new* discs would be able to force the player to seek alternatives to a compromised key. A disc I already own, which is encoded to look for the (e.g.) 09F9 encryption key, will continue to do so until the disc physically degrades. Whilst it may be technically possible to force a firmware update on BD players out there (assuming they're connected to the Internet) which would delete reference to a compromised key and thereby render certain discs unplayable, they would be signing their own death warrant by doing so. At a minimum they would be legally required to reissue discs free of charge with the new code to consumers who had legitimately purchased the old disc.

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Re: @Thomas 18 re OnLive removing games

I still play Baldur's Gate and system shock 2.

3 years is nothing.

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Re: @Thomas 18 re OnLive removing games

Yes but it's about guarantee - and you're purchasing a play license (that's why it's called PlayPass), not the game itself. Hence guarantee that you'll get what you paid for, i.e. minimum 3 years play time.

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FAIL

@Lord Elpuss

"And Vladimir, key revocation and reissuing means that any *new* discs would be able to force the player to seek alternatives to a compromised key. A disc I already own, which is encoded to look for the (e.g.) 09F9 encryption key, will continue to do so until the disc physically degrades."

Oh yeah? Well someone gave me the Sherlock homes film on bluray. It wouldn't play on my player so I had to do a firmware update on it. Now, I suppose that it does still play the old disks (although there is no guarantee that it has to), however, the digital audio output has been disabled playing them.

No, there is no way to go back to the old firmware version, so there is no way I can play my old disks with digital audio. Also if this firmware "update" had disabled some of my older disks, there would be no way for me to play them again.

On the other hand, I have loads of CDs going back 24 years, and somewhere I still have a CD player from then. The CD player still plays disks, including the newest, and the oldest CDs still play (even with digital output!). I can't say that for Bluray.

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WTF?

@BristolBachelor

BristolBachelor, I'm lost as to why you say 'Oh yeah?' and then proceed to make exactly my point again.

"key revocation and reissuing means that any *new* discs would be able to force the player to seek alternatives to a compromised key.".

Your *new* Sherlock Holmes disc wouldn't play, forcing you to do a firmware update if you wanted to watch it. Had you not done the firmware update, your old content would have continued to work fine and there would have been nothing the studios could have done about it. That's my point; that they can't remotely kill that which works unless you do it for them, e.g. by updating the firmware.

Anyway even though it sounds like we're in violent agreement life's too short to spend it arguing here. No more posts from me on this topic.

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Re: @BristolBachelor

"Your *new* Sherlock Holmes disc wouldn't play, forcing you to do a firmware update if you wanted to watch it. Had you not done the firmware update, your old content would have continued to work fine and there would have been nothing the studios could have done about it. That's my point; that they can't remotely kill that which works unless you do it for them, e.g. by updating the firmware."

So your argument is that all I have to do to keep watching all my old stuff is to commit to never watch anything new ever again? They may not be able to remotely kill what works (and that is assuming that future players wont do automatic updates) but they can make it so annoying that you just A> give up and go with it B>rebuy what you really want to watch C> go back to pirating.

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Coffee/keyboard

Wonder if you have to worry about the old "Region" crap with UV??

say I'm all paid up on my movies, got a UV compatible video player on my smartphone, and go for a trip overseas...

Am I going to get blocked with a "you're outside of the licensed region" message, preventing me from watching my content while abroad?

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Re: Wonder if you have to worry about the old "Region" crap with UV??

For streaming the answer is likely to be: yes, the content is blocked. Along the lines of trying to find the cheapest place to source the content or watch stuff that isn't available in your country. Usual anti-customer crap. :-/

Downloads might work.

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Re: @Thomas 18 re OnLive removing games

And this is why most people don't play on onlive.

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$2 or $5 to copy to the system

charging for material I already own, pretty neat trick. I think as this is largely in the distributors interest this service should be free.

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Re: $2 or $5 to copy to the system

Did you miss the bit where you could upgrade It to HD?

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Re: $2 or $5 to copy to the system

Should they have sent you a DVD to upgrade your VHS? How about a BluRay to upgrade your DVD? It is reasonable for them to charge you for the convenience of this service.

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Re: $2 or $5 to copy to the system

Yes it is but not to provide me with an HD digital copy of my BD for a cost of $5 or and SD one for $2

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Re: $2 or $5 to copy to the system

why not? Currently you own a DVD or BR that you can play in other DVD or BR devices. You want an additional copy to play on other DVD or BR "non capable" devices that can stream from the NET or possibly multiple DVD or BR devices at the same time (stream + the original media?)

This should now be free? Qutie a few other licencing schemes work like this (i.e. larger initial cost then cheaper sub licences).

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FAIL

"Whether these options are available, and the details of how they work, may vary by retailer and by title."

In other words, it's a nice idea which the content providers will then do everything possible to f!ck up.

'Fail' because there isn't an 'almost certainly going to be fail' tag.

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Agreed. And when the service inevitably implodes, their clients will be more than usually stuffed if they're keeping everything on there.

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Anonymous Coward

What is c, e, and pi in your world?

"Secondly, if a studio decides to offer, say, 4K by 2K copies, it can do so easily. If it likes, it could provide existing customers with access to those higher resolution files simply by updating their licences."

And they will use RFC-1337, "IP over invisible unicorn ponies" to deliver it.

No, wait, they will NOT offer you this upgrade - you will have to buy a new disk, a new player, and a new level of service in Ultraviolet to get an upgrade like this.

And since Sony is involved, it will eventually be discovered that the service has installed a rootkit on your Windows computer (because That Which Is Not Windows shall not have Ultraviolet) and has disabled your Blu-ray writer and permanently enabled your webcam ("the better to monitor you, my sweetie"). Also, one day you will be given the choice to either "upgrade" your software, which will no longer work on Thursdays (because pirates copy things on Thursdays), or lose any ability to use the service.

That's why I disregard Ultraviolet, or the "digital" copies that are nothing but a waste of media. If I care to spend my money on a movie, I get a Blu-ray/DVD pack (and if there are other formats in the pack, so be it). I use the Blu-ray on my HD TV, and the DVD gets introduced to Mr. Handbrake.

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Remind me?

This *will* work with Linux, right?

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Re: Remind me?

It'll certainly work on Android!

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Re: Remind me?

Are you talking about Android on a locked bootloader system?

I.e. One you don't actually "own" in any real sense (i.e. can run what software/OS you please)?

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Joke

Re: Remind me?

"This *will* work with Linux, right?"

It says right there, in the article:

"Any device with a web browser will be able to stream that content"

So yeah, so long as you have a web browser, it will work on Linux.

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Re: Remind me?

I was going to downvote that until I saw the joke alert icon :)

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Alert

Control Freaks

Today the DVD or BD physical format will be available, tommorrow there will only be the virtual format. After that you are Pwned my friend, Pwned.......

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Re: Control Freaks

You must be new on the internet to think that any media that is virtual or streamed can't be made into physical. You must also not travel often to think that the internet is available everywhere with a reliable high-speed connection thus ensuring the content you paid for will display without sputtering or buffering.

I understand from a business perspective the content owners wanting to make as much money from their products as possible but until 'high-speed internet everywhere' truly becomes that this UV model is destined to fail. If you can only watch movies when you have good internet you will end up with a lof of disgruntled customers.

Some movies come with a digital copy and although DRM'ed is a better alternative. Personally I rip my own DVDs/Blu-rays sans DRM then delete from my tablet after viewing.

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Re: Control Freaks

Couple of points you didnt mention.

* Fibre Optics ( FTTH) is becoming a reality for a lot of people. Think about the progress we have seen in the last 10 years.

* Millions of people are currently using P2P, Torrents and Streaming ( albeit illegally) already which proves that technology is already capable. I agree that it needs improved a little though.

* The internet is full of numpties that do not know the difference between a Modem and a Codec. Don't expect them to be able to do much more than simply select their movies. The majority of people are actually honest, so they wont even bother trying to burn copies for themselves. Big business will probably make some kind of "background streaming/downloading device" available which would resolve the bad connection problems.

* Business models evolve and as soon as they can remove the physical media from the equation, they will.

* Youtube is not a brilliant example but it is an example of how films can be distributed to the masses already. I watch the long duration films on a regular basis and the quality is more than acceptable.

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FAIL

Meanwhile back in the real world,

People living within sight of a comms-exchange are still using 56k modems because the exchange has run out of physical holes to plug wires into and the comms companies are too busy spending all their money trying to shaft the public purse into paying for their private infrastructure upgrades.

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Devil

Re: Control Freaks

They don't want *you* to do any ripping,copying etc. unless its *with* DRM - I could be wrong, but don't you have to use their player with their file format as well, not copying it to any format you like & viewing it on any player, like vlc, say. If that's the case, then DeCSS for UV is on its way.

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Re: Control Freaks

DeCSS is already a reality for BD (with caveats of keys), why would they bother with the online stream? I'm also sure that man-in-the-middle could "record" the visual and audio output too.

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Anonymous Coward

It's a trap!

Seriously, there's only one way this is going to end: you are going to be charged again for stuff you already bought. And again, and again..... the content industry has always hated the fact that once you bought a CD or a DVD you could listen to / watch it over and over, without them being able to charge you again for each time, and this is the *real* problem that the UV system has been designed to solve. They are rent-seeking bastards, and will not stop until they have a direct tap into all of our bank accounts.

For full details, see: http://penny-arcade.com/comic/2009/5/15/

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Pirate

Re: It's a trap!

Also http://xkcd.com/488/

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Childcatcher

Pay for your media again ... and again!

Molly Wood already did a "rant" on this on cnet.com. Turns out WalMart etc will charge you a "nominal" fee to replace your old DVDs for digital copies ... but you may only get streaming for a year, after which you will have to pay again!

"Let's look at the UltraViolet fine print. Retailers can determine the terms of the UltraViolet implementation. Wal-Mart gets to decide what apps and what devices support the streaming. Best Buy could also decide. Amazon could make up its own terms whenever it starts selling UltraViolet movies in some form, as was previewed at CES this year. ...... Note that digital access is limited to one year. "

There's more, but you get the picture. This applies the US, but retailers effectively get to make up their own rules.

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Anonymous Coward

Time limits.

I heard you only have the licence to stream for 12 months from purchase...

Also, I don't trust those idiots as far as I could throw them. I never managed to get my Digital Copy of Senna to work, their system was totally non-functional from the outset.

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Anonymous Coward

DRM = no freedom

We already have laws that cover theft, including illegal copying of media, and a legal framework that gives us the freedom to observe or break those laws. Within this context, I have the freedom to exercise responsibility and the respect the work that has gone into the creation of that media. I think the vast majority respect the work that has gone into the creation of movies and are happy to pay for it.

But in so many cases, technology is being developed to take away that freedom. Whether you wish to compensate creatives for their work or not is irrelevant - you must pay for what you view because it is not possible to do otherwise. This is what you do to a criminal, to someone who has betrayed the responsibility society has given them. Violent people are put in prison; bankrupts are denied many privileges; and so on.

And this is how DRM treats all of us - every customer is put in a cage like a criminal. And that lack of freedom ends up hurting as much as a cage; in some respect, it will restrict the privileges afforded to a free, honest citizen. It might be as simply as not being able to view the item you purchased, but it also restricts transferring your purchases to others (through private sale or gifting). DRM should be seen for what it is - an attack on human rights. Companies that pursue these technologies should be named, shamed, and boycotted.

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Re: DRM = no freedom

Whilst I agree with your sentiments no-one is forcing you to buy the stuff. It is an option after all.

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Re: DRM = no freedom

@Danny 14: "no-one is forcing you to buy the stuff"

That's exactly the point we need to ram home with these companies - if you want to treat us like criminals, we don't want to do business with you. We need to actively name, shame, and *boycott* all material that comes with a cage attached. If we don't, this trend will spread. Technology has the potential to be the most oppressive dictatorship the world has ever seen if we allow it to.

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"DECE partners have tried to provide a true 'buy once, play anywhere' system"

No they didn't. They specifically wanted a system which ISN'T "play anywhere". And how do you get "buy once" from "You have to pay for the disc. Then you have to surrender personal information to get a UV account. Then if the disc didn't explicitly include a "Digital Copy" key (or if you want the HD version, since most discs "free" digital copies are the most degraded SD copies available, you have to pay some retail outlet to 'copy' the disc into UV. Then you have to regularly authenticate to UV and if anything goes titsup you have to pay yet again"?

If they had wanted true buy once, they'd have made it retroactive. But I'll admit that will probably never happen.

And if they'd wanted true play anywhere, they'd have not included DRM. Before you say "that'll never happen", look at the music industry.

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It will fail.

The main reason is elucidated by the article:

>> "There are two advantages here."

Great! Not one, but two. I'm excited!

>> "First, content owners need only hold a couple of copies of each title, one in SD, the second in HD."

Uh.. Sounds fine for them. Alright, what do I get?

>> "Secondly, if a studio decides to offer, say, 4K by 2K copies, it can do so easily."

Hum... That's for *them*, too. Surely, there's something good for me, since it's designed to improve my experience, and make it more convenient than pirating, right?

>> "But, yes, all this involves DRM, to prevent folk giving content away to all and sundry."

DOH! I should have known. That and the focus on a "rental" model are really the reasons why this endeavor will surely fail.

I'll stick to ripping my own DVDs into my computer, and playing them on my Apple TV.

-dZ.

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We're all doomed.

So. More and more colossal quantities of data, fuelled by yet more enormously eco-catastrophic power sources, are to be stuffed into the maxed-out, decelerating interweb just to facilitate serried ranks of content owners who would rather wreck the planet than miss a dime of revenue, and legions of obese couch potatoes who can't be arsed taking the missus to the movies.

Great.

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Paris Hilton

All of this handwringing is missing another point

that of who is watching *What* you watch??

So... Big Brother wants to see who is a likely threat, real or imagined... scans UV content list looking for (for example) those who own/watch 'V for Vendetta'. Or any version of '1984', or 'Brazil', or 'Animal Farm'..........

Those are obvious, what about "soft porn" - 'Videodrome'

The list and reasons go on and on and on...

This doesn't mention the data that will be sold to various advertisers...

This whole UV concept is a Fail.

If you think I should be wearing a Tinfoil hat then fine - come aback and re-read this comment 3 or 4 years after UV goes live.

BTW - totally of topic - why is it 'Tin foil' hat, when tin is not used for foil any more??

Paris - because she is the only person I can think of who would be fool enough to fall for this.

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Black Helicopters

Re: All of this handwringing is missing another point

The more important question is "why do they not let us make foil out of tin anymore"?

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You lost me at

"permanently available to you on the internet."

The Internet isn't permanently available to me. I'm not very excited about a rental-in-disguise system that cuts out every time there's a problem with my phone line.

As another poster said: this is all about making life good for the studios; there's nothing here of any real worth to the consumer at all.

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DivX, Part Deux

Back when DVD was just starting to gain a foothold in the market, Circuit City introduced an alternative format, known as "DivX", which was basically DVD with extra DRM, and a phone-home-to-rent-content marketing plan. The studios, of course, loved the idea, as it gave them additional control over who could view their content, and when. Customers could be forced to buy the same movies again and again to watch them.

DivX failed miserably in the marketplace, because consumers want to buy a movie once, and be able to watch it forever, whenever they feel like it. DivX was too much of a "bait and switch" -- you could buy the movie now, and be unable to view it later.

UltraViolet is the same thing, once again. Buy the movie now, and we'll "let" you watch it for a while. In a few years, if you want to watch it again, you'll end up having to re-buy it.

Hopefully, consumers will reject this just as soundly as they rejected DivX.

(Side note: There is a mostly-unrelated video codec, also called "DivX", that uses MPEG-4 compression. The "mostly" is because it was named as an ironic reference to the failed DivX rental DVD format, but is otherwise completely unrelated to it.)

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