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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Anonymous Coward

LIFETIME LICENSE.......

can I pass that on to my kids when I go?

Or will there be a death duty fee?

Bet they already thought about that one, read the small print.

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Well that's fine and dandy but will there be a version available online with JUST the UV copy at a significant price reduction?

I do not want the DVD/Blu-Ray disc but the online delivery would be great.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re:

Yes

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M'eh. I'm afraid I'm less than whelmed

That is, underwhelmed.

Sounds like a really really complex, convoluted version of the old Rushing A New Format To Market To Squeeze More Cash Out Of Customers trick... complete with DRMed downloads. Ooops, DRM. Bzzzzzt. Sorry, thanks for playing.

Yeah, maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I've already got "lifetime rights" through the ownership of the actual, physical copies of "Yellow Submarine", "DOA", "Night At The Opera", "The Way We Were", "Plan 9 From Outer Space", the Looney Tunes box set, and the Charlie Chaplin box set sitting on my bookshelf across the room, here. No weird, skanky, DRM-tainted, network-based "lifetime rights".

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: M'eh. I'm afraid I'm less than whelmed

It's a giant conspiracy!

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Lifetime rights? Are you sure?

What about in 30 years time when your DVD player is broken and you can't buy a new one because they've been replaced by some new format? Those boxed sets going to work for you then?

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Yes

Because you remembered to register the code and have been watching the downloaded version longer than you can remember.

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You read my mind...

Basically, yeah... I rip 'em to full-res mp4's and watch them on my laptop. That way I can take them on the plane, or somewhere else in the house, or basically anywhere, without worrying about wear and tear on the discs... same thing I do with my CDs.

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Not as optimistic as the author

This could be a good thing, but since the historically pro content industry author has been so optimistic, I am going to play devils advocate.

The main things I see wrong with it are:

-Does not inherently mean that you will never have to buy the movie again, i.e not a lifetime purchase. So if I buy an ultraviolet DVD, it means I get to download the Blu-ray 3D version? And when Blu-ray's successor comes along? I'm sure there will be upgrade pricing in the future, but not as cheap as selling a DVD used to upgrade to a Blu-Ray.

-Kills off the used physical media market. You can't sell on a disc if the license is now locked to your ultraviolet account. This locks you into the upgrade pricing discussed in the point above. Don't think you can lend a friends movies anymore.

-You will have no choice in using this as it will become that you cannot get physical media that does not include ultraviolet and require you registering it against your account. Lots of video games do this now, by making you use an on-line system like Steam, origin, GFWL or Yuplay even if you have brought the game on physical media.

-Risk of loss of your licenses. This is me at my most paranoid, but I would not be surprised to see a situation as with Nintendo's 3DS. It has a kill switch which renders it a paper weight if Nintendo decide that you are doing something on the device they don't like. Also multiple stories of people having their videogame accounts killed if they think you are doing something untoward. So I see once this system is in place, if any ultraviolet devices detect that you are say play a wrong region or pirated disc, your ultraviolet account is shut down and all of your media purchased on there is gone. I say this is paranoid, but I feel justified in fearing this when EA are killing peoples Origin accounts and their access to their games locked to this account, for something as little as using bad language in their forums.....

-This looks like more a method for the movie industry to exert more control over their content rather than an olive branch to consumers freedoms in the use of media.

I would hope to be proved wrong on these points once the system is properly launched, but I am suspicious. I think this may well be a trojan horse by the industry to be able to better exert control over the content they are selling. So I say be wary about this new system, but generally consumers are idiots when it comes to this stuff. They are normal fool by some shiny trinkets while the industry is taking their wallets from their back pockets.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Not as optimistic as the author

Lots of the usual paranoia and some good points.

- Hollywood doesn't want to kill the nice margins on BluRay discs just as the market is taking off. Bandwidth is nowhere near good enough to make HD home cinema streaming a comparable experience. But it also likes the margins on impulse purchases of streaming and downloads, for people who just want to watch something.

- I can't see how it could kill the secondary market. You can still sell the DVD/BluRay disc on, the redemption code (if redeemed) won't work, but the disc will still play the movie, so long as you haven't scratched it.

Some paranoia is justified, forcing legal customers to sit through two minutes of unskippable FBI piracy warnings is a fantastic reward for us giving them money.

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Thanks for clearing up some stuff

Not sure I have seen an article author replying to a comment before, so kudos on that.

If this does not affect in any way, our current engagement with physical media, like Blu-rays and DVD's, but is just an added non-transferable feature with Ultraviolet enabled disks, then I take back most of my comments. My assumption on reading the article was that the movie industry was going down the same route as the games industry. There they make you lock games to on-line account accounts, even if brought on physical media.

If the physical and Ultraviolet licenses are treated as different items, then I can keep buying physical media without concern that I won't be able to sell it on when the inevitable extend cuts or higher definition versions come along. Also I won't have to worry about the industry killing my ultraviolet account (for whatever reason), as I will still have the physical media which will always work.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Thanks for clearing up some stuff

My bet is that DRM will be a non-issue for most ordinary people - who are not represented here - but UV may still fail abjectly because of poor technical implementation.

It may be too hard to use, or they haven't thought about security enough, or some other wrinkle.

Now they need to get rid of the insulting piracy nags.

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Interesting...

...maybe all the hullabaloo over their going after the (poor) end users, and not the (rich) criminal gangs who actually break the DRM in the first place, seems to be getting through?

In any case, they seem to be making a step in the right direction, for a change, and it seems to have the promise to actually make sense, if they get the pricing mechanism right. I'm still sceptical, but let's see where this goes.

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If it becomes a marketing necessity to include UV support in TVs etc (as its is with HDMI/HDCP), I wonder how much this will add to the cost of such devices.

It'll be interesting to see the terms and conditions of having a UV account; to what extent you'll be consenting to marketing efforts.

Existing copyright laws will inevitably maintain an adversarial relationship between content producers and content consumers. It's nice to see the efforts to strike a new balance, but I think those efforts will ultimately fail. Content producers need a new system that rewards them from a pool of public funds, according to the popularity of their work, so they don't have to continue to fight to create artificial scarcity. Then and only then will we see the end of piracy and the economic explosion of digital services that the information age offers. But I suspect that will sound too much like socialism to Hollywood.

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(Written by Reg staff)

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Tax everyone to pay for Hollywood?

That's a winner!

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*coughs BBC*

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Alert

...a Hollywood tax...?

...more like a 'tax' everyone might pay for all the media they watch, regardless of where it was made (Iran, for instance).

And then, it's not even a tax if it's more like the BBC's licence fee, more of a one off annual charge based solely upon whether or not you opt in to the 'i wanna watch media' cloud.

Worth considering, and not dismissing out of hand shirley...

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Meh

sounds like a very small step in the right direction...

finally I will no longer have to pay to upgrade to the next wizzbang format... Question is, how will stuff that I already own be treated, or will I need to buy a UV "license" for existing content if I want to be format agnostic...

so many questions, hopefully they'll get it right...

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Meh

Only for a year, though

Customers only receive "a universal, lifetime right to watch a movie in any format they want" if they are smart enough to choose the correct everlasting format and download it somewhere safe in the first year - the streaming and downloading is only guaranteed for 12 months, after which time you might have to pay again. Snippets from the details as below:

"Streaming of a given title from the selling UltraViolet retailer more than a year after its purchase, or at any time via streaming services other than the selling UltraViolet retailer, may incur fees (...) with the consumer having the option to accept the fees or not use that streaming service."

"Members will be able to download at least three of these files from the selling retailer, at no extra charge above the original content purchase price for a period of one year after the purchase."

http://uvvu.com/uv-offer-details.php

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Anonymous Coward

Epic FAIL, and no messing (would be my icon)

Man, just as I was getting semi-excited about this... So much for the longevity and format-agnosticness of the purchases. :/

Oh well, I guess it's back to ripping DVDs and Blu-Rays then.

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Facepalm

Ah, the small print...

...fascinating.

A year indeed. Well that's just sunk the boat in the middle of the harbour!*

Additionally: doesn't say a word about cinema tickets in the rules, so one assumes that as per nowadays trips to the flicks are a luxury one off experience. It would be a bit daft to assume that one UV purchase would entitle one to multiple (infinite!) visits to multiple (infinite!) cinemas to see the same film; it may be a bit less daft to assume that a one off trip to the cinema could entitle you to a UV account at a later date, but clearly daft enough in terms of studio finances to rule it out of the equation. Nor does it mention some sort of backwards compatibility for those who already posses legal copies of a film (quite possibly more than one of the same film!). Again, a nightmare scenario to legislate, just think about it for more than ten seconds...

And: '...the number and type of devices to which downloads are permitted may vary by retailer and title...' which might prove confusing if certain studios intend to take their proprietary walls with them onto the UV cloud. ('...i believe sir is trying to play an Apple studios film on a Samsung player, Still no legal firmware update for that, i'm afraid, but they're due in court again next year. Will the licence still be valid in a year? I can't guarantee that, sir..')*

Though on the positive side: '...UltraViolet retailers may offer account members the chance to download files associated with UltraViolet rights they have purchased from other UltraViolet retailers...' which means not being tied to one retailer, horray! Oh, wait, it says 'may'. Damn, another caveat..*

*paranoia alert!!! Well, yes, possibly, though not without justifiable reason. The only possibility i can see of this succeeding at present (before being destroyed by a mass of backlash and outraged consumer confusion) is that individual retailers offer their own cast iron guarantees of streaming/ downloading/ and even clearly stated upgrade prices for future formats. As long as all the retailers can access the same level playing field (the UV backbone), they can compete fairly, and we the consumer should benefit from the ensuring price/ customer service war.

UV could work, but i'm gonna err on the side of pessimism, and assume the studios will bugger it up with the usual 'profits before common sense' approach. Which would be a shame...

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American launch was a disaster

Before you give them a pat on the back lets see what it's like in real life. The service launched with Green Lantern in the USA two months ago to complete and utter ridicule and disdain. Just check out the Amazon review scores for the film. The reception was so bad the studio gave out iTunes codes for users to get their digital copy.

I think I'll stick to Blu-Ray triple play packs with a DVD and iTunes download for now thanks.

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Black Helicopters

WOW

It looks like the dinosaurs are finally evolving!

However, it could also be that they see this as a way to cut off the air supply to the iTunes ecosystem. Then once that is done, they can starting building higher walls around their own garden and putting pay-as-you-go turn-styles on all the gates.

Not saying they will, only that they could.

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I wonder

Will you get a UV code printed on the back of your expensive cinema ticket too? Or will theatrical release continue to be seperate?

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Silver badge
Linux

It sounds good

I presume 'any device' does not include Linux tho.

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hmmmm nice idea....

so, what is to stop me buying the movie, getting the code and selling on? (still, i guess i can always copy the blu-ray anyway if i like)

also, can you stream with the full 1080p and HD sound? i havent seen anyone offering 7.1 DTS master HD sound... god only knows how fat connection you would need to stream that anyway! 25GB - 50GB in 2 hours without jumping or caching?

i will stick with my triple play (well double play dvd + BR) for beautiful movies and plain old DVD for comedy etc.

in the future when everyone has 100Mb lines that will all be fine but i dont want my ISP throttling me half way through a movie because ive downloaded 25-50GB in 90 minutes....

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Download Once

Lets say for example, I brought Final Destination 5 DVD (*see Note 1), if I want to watch that film on a tablet at the moment I would rip the DVD to a local NAS box and then stream it across WiFi.

Am I going to be able to do that with UV protected disks? or am I going to have to stream the movie from the cloud everytime, burning through my bandwidth limit?

Note 1 - I wouldn't, ever, but this is just for example.

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FAIL

They just want another

bite at the apple.

The content industry will never learn--they've been at this since audio cassettes and the VCR.

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Meh

Sceptical

There are very few films I want to watch more than once. Why would I want to buy a lifetime licence for every film I watch?

What are the privacy implications? Are the film distributors, and so on, going to spam people with "recommendations" based on their viewing history?

Will it work with free software? I don't want no MS crapware.

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Devil

What Could Go Wrong?

OK, DRM. What on Earth could go wrong here?

Our household has four laptops and one stationary PC, all Linux -- that couldn't go wrong, could it? Or the upgrade to OpenBSD? Or to Haiku?

If I like "Debbie Does Dallas" or anything of that kin and felt a bit timid about it -- I wouldn't mind the people knowing, would I?

If the family plans to go to Northumberland (or somewhere else sufficiently far away from where we live) and plan to bring some entertainment for the car (which for some reason is always the last thing happening before the "I need the toilet") when the Internet is down and the selections are not registered to the car's player -- how could that go wrong?

My wife and I break up and want to split our stash of entertainment (or one of the children moves out and we want to donate some of our movies) -- no problem, eh?

Anybody know the answers to these problems?

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Anonymous Coward

Answers

1) Haha penguin lover!

2) Buy an old fashioned non-UV disc, or buy it and trash the code.

3) I-Spy books or conversation

4) Ask the solicitors but if that's the greatest thing you're worrried about in case of separation......

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This post has been deleted by its author

Thumb Down

Ultraviolet: our service sucks, but have some free iTunes vouchers..

Ultraviolet is the same company who ended up giving free iTunes vouchers to the content, in order to placate very unhappy customers in the US.

http://gigaom.com/video/flixster-itunes-ultraviolet/

Doesn't sound it's going that well.

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Silver badge

"Lifetime"? Yah, right...

Until they change the EULA. Until they change the hardware. Until you move to a different country (remember iTunes?) Until some content owner complains. Until you die and try to pass your library to your kiddies.

The likelihood that you'll "own" what you buy in perpetuity is nearly zero.

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So I buy the Blu-ray...

watch it, enjoy it, then sell it on or give it to a friend, and I still get to watch the movie in perpetuity (did I spell that right?)?

Have I seen a flaw in this plan? At least for me, I can have my cake and eat it - my friend, however - can they repurchase a UV sub for that film?

This is sounding similar to the whole 'license key in box to unlock online, if you sell it on the new owner has to fork out to get online' thing in the PS3 Saints Row the Third I just got.

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DRM issues

I think I'll be happy to try UV if I get it free with a bluray which I can keep and play as normal and the UV licence is something extra I can try. I'm not sure how comfortable I'll be to buy a UV licence to a film without that fallback media yet.

Also, they talk about a streaming licence, do we know what quality this streaming will be in? lovefilm streaming is alright for an old comedy, but it's not even DVD quality nevermind anything approaching HD. of course, as this is supposed to be a perpetual licence, I guess the streaming quality can be improved over time and in theory, this licence should still cover it.

I suppse the last question is wondering when I'm going to get a UV streaming plugin for my XBMC box? :)

dave

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re: DRM Issues

"Also, they talk about a streaming licence, do we know what quality this streaming will be in? lovefilm streaming is alright for an old comedy, but it's not even DVD quality nevermind anything approaching HD. of course..."

My wife used to have the old-style mail-delivery DVD Netflix account, but went to the streaming service about a year ago (we have DSL at our place). She swears by it, but one night she found a movie we both wanted to watch, so I checked it out; the image quality was just OK at best -- lots of compression artifacts and chunky pixellation in areas of flat light/dark/color. Certainly nowhere near as good as watching the actual DVD or cable telecast.

As you say, David... the streaming quality was OK for something like "Duck Soup" or an old "B" movie, but I wouldn't watch the Netflix stream of, say, "2001" or "Yellow Subarine" -- especially since I already own physical copies of those which look beautiful.

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You ALREADY can buy a "right to watch everywhere" license..

By buying the DVD and Bluray. In countries were the silly DMCA doesn't apply, the right to format shift a purchased DVD or Bluray is protected by law. And the freeware DVD Fab HD decrypter (the best format shifting tool when combined with the open source Handbrake and AutoGK tools) make everything easy.

In other words, Hollywood is too late. The market (and people's living rooms) are full with DivxPlusHD / MKV playes, and people aren't going to thow away their perfectly good devices, just for the privilledge of having to jump through the hoops of DRM. Eventually, the movie industry will resort into selling pure, non-DRMed MP4 files, much like the music industry resorted to selling pure MP3s.

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Digital Copy

I just hope that the streamed/digital copies aren't just Itunes and plays for sure compatible. I have bought several movies which include an unplayable copy of the movie unless you have fruit themed mobile device. This is not an anti-Apple stance,it just seems silly to make the digital copies included Apple only when movies are already available on Itunes n formats to suit those devices. As a Blackberry Playbook owner(no laughing at the back) I just want a digital copy of the movie I own on disc without having to spend 2 hours ripping it.

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I still believe that the best model would be based on a licence, something like a TV license, which would be the same across the world. That would give you access to films, TV shows, documentaries - for you to stream on whatever device you have. And TV channels should provide only live content (news, sport events, live performances and so on...).

Your smart tv/device would just list what's available in your preferred language and broken down by genre.

This could help to get ppl to go to cinemas and later, lets say 2-3 months after premiere in cinema this title would appear in the catalogue of available titles.

Sure, they could still have physical media in form of blu-ray (whatever) for special editions containing posters (or anything what would make it special).

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Silver badge

It'll never work.

Because people start getting huffy about paying TAXES (which they'll say are the real form of the licensing fees) for stuff they'll never use...kinda like UK people buying a telly but not paying for the BBC license. The movie companies will never agree to DRM-free movies because they have too much to lose (a movie has much higher up-front costs than a song--therefore, they need much more to recoup), and they're VERY well aware of Torrents (since they sic lawyers every so often). IOW, to them DRM-free might as well be FREE-free: no money to be made. If it ever got to the point where they couldn't continue without going DRM-free, there's a just they'll just shut the doors. Better to earn nothing than lose something.

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it will force them to produce something what ppl might actually want to watch not produce crap like we get from hollywood these days. it will eventually happen in one form or another.

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Silver badge

Considering the Box Office returns...

...people ARE watching the flicks. If you're talking about that Must-See blockbuster that would make people stand in line two days before the premiere to watch, it ain't gonna happen. New media outlets mean there are too many alternatives available to draw enough to that degree. Most people want razzmatazz, so the studios deliver, just as TV networks deliver reality TV mostly because that's what people watch. Trouble is, the cost of doing business is going up (actor/actress salaries, filming equipment, editing rooms, render farm rentals, etc.), making Return on Investment iffy. And to get the biggest returns you usually have to invest the most money (low-budget successes like "Blair Witch" are rare and almost impossible to imitate), so it's not exactly win-win here for the studios. Plus, people are already grumbling about the cost of going out (sure, the ticket prices are OK, but check out the snack counter, and before you say "bring your own", most theaters won't allow outside food and can't be compelled otherwise, so the term "captive audience" applies). So you could say the movie business is feeling the pinch.

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Thumb Up

Something people might actually want to watch

You nailed it right there, man.

That's been the 800-pound gorilla in the room during this whole "debate"... the Entertainment-Industrial Complex keeps blaming "pirates" for their declining profits when pretty much anybody you ask will tell you that it's because these days, all that's out there is crap.

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Silver badge

So any bets

Any bets on how long that service will last?

So essentially I buy a Blu-Ray which I probably won't be able to watch after a few years because of hardware failures or licensing issues. (unless I rip it of course)

Plus I get the right to get another copy as long as that service exists.

So how exactly is that better than pirating or recording off television? (From a consumer perspective)

Please dear publishers, get rid of DRM on Blu-Ray and everything will be fine.

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A few years? I have Blu-rays that I cannot watch NOW because of the crappy DRM scheme.

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Anonymous Coward

Unappealing

I like finding interesting and unusual film, tv and music. That's why I love torrenting and sourcing the actual physical media where possible. Neither this or any of the various streaming services currently doing the rounds will cater for that. Ever.

It'll be a bland catalogue of recent 'blockbuster' films. No old films except the 'classics' will be added to the service. That's my biggest issue with approaches like this. I do not want to be dictated to as to what small pool of content I can source from.

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Silver badge

But I still can't watch my telly after all these years

I bought a 20-inch Samsung HD-Ready television in 2004 for six hundred quid. It is now 2011 and I still can't watch things in HD. This is because DRM (HDCP) was added into the HD standard as an afterthought and my TV can't do it. If there were no DRM I could be watching stuff in HD. Anyone who wants to convince me that DRM is a good and necessary thing can please go somewhere else.

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Anonymous Coward

But can you now sell or give away your DVD / Blu-Ray to someone else or have you just bought a license for yourself / your family.

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Anonymous Coward

I would still rather a simple subscription model - i.e. pay Apple (or whoever) £10-15 a month for unlimited movies you can download to your device or stream direct while you have an active subscription. With UV you still need to buy each movie and you may not be able to then resell them?

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