back to article Walmart offers $2 digital copies of your DVDs

US retail giant Walmart is to offer punters digital copies of each of their DVDs and Blu-rays for $2 (£1.27) a pop. Converting a standard definition title to HD will cost $5 (£3.18), the firm said. Every digital copy is delivered through Walmart's online streaming service, Vudu. Discs don't have to have been bought at Walmart …


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  1. Captain Underpants
    Thumb Down

    Goddamnit. I was trying to work out the downside to this scheme

    And then, as usual, it turned out to be %^&*ing DRM.

    I think I'll stick to ripping my discs at home then. If you're going to charge me for the privilege, I expect full control, not a licence. Especially not a licence that some greedy gimboid can rescind in future for no real reason other than "we'd quite like you to pay us again for that film, please". (Same major fail underpinning the "digital copies" provided with DVDs - the only film I own that came with one was Predators, and the small print advises me that my licence for that film will expire 2 years after I validate it...)

    1. Haku

      Re: Goddamnit. I was trying to work out the downside to this scheme

      DRM validation by online services is wrong for this kind of consumable, as has been shown in the past if the company hosting the validation service shuts down then you no longer have access to the media you paid for.

      And who once had to bow to public pressure to keep DRM validation servers active so people could listen to the DRM'd music they'd bought?

      Oh yes, it was Walmart...

    2. Euripides Pants Silver badge

      Re: Goddamnit. I was trying to work out the downside to this scheme

      Not just DRM, downloading a reasonably good quality movie will take more time than it's worth.

  2. Fuzz

    Now this is a good idea providing the HD copies

    1. are in 1080p

    2. contain proper 5.1 surround

    I'd gladly pay $5 per disc to upgrade my DVDs to HD.

    1. Kyoraki

      Don't hold your breath- upgrading standard definition to HD is pretty much impossible. What they will do however, is upscale the video to 1080p, which will do nothing whatsoever to improve the quality.

      In short, it's a ripoff.

      1. BristolBachelor Gold badge


        I think the HD upgrade option means that you get a subscription to the HD version. Sure for old films that may be an upscale, but for all recent films, it should be the HD scan of the film, or a downscale from the 4k original to HD resolution instead of SD resolution.

        However as for the quality, who knows? I mean the Blueray disk will be 25G or 50G, but the version you get to watch that you have paid for is probably less than 1G; if you watch fast moving scenes like the gun fight in the entrance lobby in the Matrix, you probably see the tiles falling off the walls and turning into mosaics in front of your eyes.

      2. Steve Renouf


        I think you're missing the point here.

        You don't think they're going to actually stick your disc in a player and rip it do you?!?!

        They'll be supplying you with the same digital resource that everyone else will be getting (access to the Full HD file on the server) - you just have to prove posession of the physical disc.

    2. nomasteryoda

      and contain the complete set of languages and subtitles and if the movie was released as Japanese, then by God it must be presented as such and not dubbed in English first.

  3. g e

    At last!

    They've taken a long time working out how to get people to pay again for something they already have since the VCR -> DVD -> BluRay chain of upgrade-and-rebuy stalled.

    What's the betting that once ripped they don't re-rip YOUR disc, just check the EAN and provide you with one they made earlier, too.

    Money <- x -> Old Rope.

    Like Captain Underpants I shall be self-managing my collection rather than letting myself get ensnared in a lock-in. A pint for you, Sir!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: At last!

      Is $2 for giving you a DVD rip really that much to ask?

      You bought the DVD, not a download. Seems fair they would like you to pay something extra for the additional option. Many don't know or care to rip their own DVDs.

      It's even possible to upgrade to HD, again not something you could do by just ripping a regular DVD.

      1. The BigYin

        @AC Re: At last!

        So just because they have put in a technological barrier to fair use, you are now happy to pay again? You are an idiot.

        The only "feature" of note here is the upgrade option but if I cannot retain a local copy of the upgraded media and have to always stream it, then it is not much of an option.

        Just like games, this is an attempt to kill the second-hand market, restrict fair use and get the moronic consumer to pay again-and-again-and-again for the same thing.

        1. g e


          Yeah the games market is fecked come the next console iteration. I don't do much online play so don't care about buying games secondhand (though got Mass Effect 3 for PS3 *and* XBOX cos my savegame's on XBOX and one of the kids wanted it on PS3 for his birthday for multiplayer).

          As a result I don't buy many games brand new. That certainly won't change unless Gen3 games are something like half the price, which I can't see happening.

      2. Captain Underpants

        Re: At last!

        The upsell to HD (assuming you've got a full-HD screen and HTPC for playback) could, maybe, be an advantage of this, and is at least a sign of some clever thinking ("Try and do *this* with your DVD copy!"). But it's still the ownership>licence transition that's the problem. Who, really, is going to trust the UV licence holders to not start bolting on non-optional "upgrade fees" or licence expiration dates once they've got people tied in? That's what they've always done with the hardware in the past, and now that hardware doesn't have to be a limitation I totally expect them to try and recreate it in software.

        Therefore, %^&* 'em. Time will tell if they're playing the same game of silly buggers or not, but most of the companies behind UV have taken far longer than they should have done to move with the times, so if they want my trust and confidence they can earn it.

        (Compare this, for example, to the likes of Valve and Steam - where providing game progress syncrhonisation across multiple platforms, or providing platform-independent multiplayer and access to out-of-print games are used to provide customers with reasons to use the service, despite the downside of no longer having physical media for the game itself...)

      3. g e

        Re: At last!

        Sure if you want to pay for it then do, not a biggie, though I wonder how many people will be unaware that the rip will only be available within the UV framework and this is just a method to shepherd revenue streams, err customers, into the fold? $5 for upscaling to HD is a bit of a joke, too, unless they're replacing it with a real HD rip in which case not so bad.

        Where money's involved I don't trust the vendor's motives with an inversely proportional relationship to the profit which could be gained.

      4. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


        "It's even possible to upgrade to HD"

        It's a secret, so, shhhhh! Don't tell anyone! - but both your HD TV and your DVD player (assuming it's relatively new) will do it for you for free in real-time, whenever you play anything on them. Upscaling a DVD rip is, thus, just a waste of time and storage space.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @AC

          FFS so many conspiracy idiots here. Get your thinking caps on for a second.

          It's clear they aren't simply upscaling your copy of the DVD, the service enables you to upgrade and download a pre-existing, real HD stream - so the $5 is good value.

          As for the $2 again is that so bad for a regular consumer who doesn't want to spend the time to rip and store a digital copy of their DVD? Not many people have a NAS at home.

          As for DRM most people don't care about that as long as they can watch the movie. Guess what, most satellite and cable services use DRM these days, doesn't stop people subscribing.

          1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

            Re: @AC

            "Converting a standard definition title to HD will cost $5 (£3.18), the firm said."

            Were your reading the same article as everyone else, AC? 'cause converting means converting and not replacing.

            "As for DRM most people don't care about that as long as they can watch the movie."

            Speak for yourself.

            I realise that there are people who don't know when they are being ripped off. If there weren't, all 419ers and other con-artists would have died from hunger a long time ago. But if you're happy to be conned - by all means, relax and enjoy.

            1. Graham 32

              Re: @AC

              "'cause converting means converting and not replacing."

              Well in the case of a download I think it does means which version they offer for download. They will have two versions of it available for download, if you have the DVD you can get the SD stream for $2 and the HD stream for $5.

              There will be no "converting" in the traditional sense. It's hardly like they'll ask you to upload the DVD!

          2. Tom 13

            Re: @AC 12:19 GMT

            Most folks using DRM encumbered satelilite and cable services don't expect that they OWN a copy of the movie. They only expect it to work for a single instance. Big difference.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              @Tom 13

              Not at all, and my Sky DVR box with 1TB of DRMed movies would agree.

              People expect them work anytime they want to watch it. DRM doesn't change this.

          3. BristolBachelor Gold badge

            @AC 14-03-2012 12:19

            "As for DRM most people don't care about that as long as they can watch the movie."

            Yeah, that is the problem. I tried to watch the Blueray of Sherlock Holms (I didn't buy it; it was a present). The problem was that to watch it, I had to upgrade the player to cope with the new version of the DRM. However, once I did that, some of the old films stopped working and the optical out no longer gave me audio; that meant I had to play the audio out through stupid 2-channel analogue.

            Tell me again how wonderful DRM is and how it doesn't get in the way...

          4. Captain Underpants
            Thumb Down

            Re: @AC 12:19

            "Most people don't care" when a *SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE* is encrypted, because the point of a SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE is that you SUBSCRIBE. Are you getting a bit of a clue here about where the problem might be, given that the punter in question starts out with a product that they OWN?

            Hint: when you OWN something, you pay *once*. When you SUBSCRIBE, you pay *repeatedly*.

            Hence my point that, if they want me to trust them and get on board with this scheme, I need to be able to believe that my one-off purchase of a licence based on my media will neither have a calendar-based expiration date nor any non-optional upgrade requirements. (ie "Oh, we're no longer offering access to the SD/720p/1080p versions now because the NEW STANDARD is 50BAJILLIONp. Click here to begin the wallet-fisting process of giving us all your money^W^W^W^W^W upgrading your licence" nonsense).

            Yes, I sound condescending here, but to be fair you've gone out of your way to not understand the point we're making and pretend that the industry concerned somehow *doesnt* have a substantial number of greedy bastards attached to it...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @AC 12:19

              Oh puleease Captain Underpants, it's only $2. who gives a fuck if the downloads works for more than 5 years...

              1. Captain Underpants
                Thumb Down

                Re: @AC 12:19

                I would've thought the answer to that was perfectly obvious, but *I* do. And so does anyone else who realises that for $0 and marginally more effort than taking part in this UV program, they can rip their own DRM-free digital copies at home, which remain usable for as long as they retain the data.

                I've got no objection to charging for an upsell (eg if you've got the DVD, a $5 to get a digital version of the HD version seems ok) - but I want to own the %^&*ing thing. Not a limited licence controlled by them, full control of the file. If they don't want to give it to me, fine. I'll stick to buying discs and go from there.

              2. sisk Silver badge

                Re: @AC 16:36

                Consider this: it's $2 PER MOVIE. Even an average movie collection would easily breach triple digit costs, and in 5 years you're out all that cash.

                I've bought 2 or 3 movies a month for close to 20 years now because I haven't had any kind of TV service for most of my adult life. For someone like me who has an abnormally large movie collection and it could well be several hundred dollars. I'd be looking at $700 minimum to convert my entire collection. There's no way I'm handing over even a fraction of that much for a service that might not be there 5, 10, or even 20 years from now.

                1. Captain Underpants


                  Yeah, exactly.

                  I've got of the order of 300 films on DVD, and at least another 250-odd TV shows on DVD.

                  Even if we're generous and assume that the $2/disc thing would apply to TV shows (HAH! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! *wipes tear from eye*), that would still put me in a position of paying $1100 (or, let's be realistic, £1100 if the service arrives in the UK) for the "privilege" of a licence to stream-only SD versions of my films and tv shows when I've already paid for them.

                  Given the amount of time involved in ripping all of these discs, I could *almost* be convinced to spend *some* money on doing this. But at that kind of price, for a time-limited streaming licence? %^&* that and %^&* them.

      5. auburnman

        Re: At last!

        Providing a DVD rip strikes me as marginally more complicated than sending me an email, no matter how much they dress it up with talk of 'upscaling'. Fair enough if they provide an extra service they can charge for it but I would not pay $2 for a rip that would take ten seconds of my attention to set up and then run in the background for half an hour at home.

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: At last!

        You want to pay again? Fair play to you.

        The rest of us bought a license to watch a video for personal use and I like many others am happy to stretch that license to breaking point by ripping DVDs we have paid hard earned cash for. We are not cash-cows to be scammed into paying up again to greedy corps who are damned lucky that honest people like us actually paid for a copy of a DVD and not just ripped it off from a torrent site!

      7. L1feless

        Re: At last!

        @AC a previous poster has accurately stated. You cannot convert a Non-HD source into a true HD output. Up-scaling a lesser quality video is not providing the video in HD. Now if I have a DVD and there is an alternative source which the HD video is being drawn from then that is very much a different story.

      8. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Digital Copy - What a clusterfook

    I had a copy of Senna for Xmas as a Triple Play, (Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital Copy).

    Tried to use the Digital Copy on my Asus Transformer, and it was a totally shambolic exercise. I never actually managed to get it to work, I ended up using Handbrake to rip it, which worked just fine...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Digital Copy - What a clusterfook

      No wonder it was shambolic, Google wants you to stick to their own flavour of DRM and use Google Movie rental.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Digital Copy - What a clusterfook

      I tried that and it was actually faster to rip the DVD I bought than jump through the hoops of putting the code in and waiting ages on my slow link for the sodding downloaded DRM encumbered file to arrive!!

      I don't bother with those downloads anymore they are such a waste of space. DRM loaded and bigger than necessary for a simple movie file. Handbrake is the magic key for dumping into MP4 that can be played on practically any device, inlcuding the very picky Apple kit, that we own at home.

  5. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Blatant scam

    With only one purpose - to snare naive punters into DRMs without them realising it and make it de-facto widely accepted.

    I am peaceful man but, really, sometimes I just wish I could machine-gun the bastards.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So basically an attempt by Walmart to take some of that " rent'n'rip " market share from Lovefilm et al then!

  7. Swarthy Silver badge

    Disney's Opt-out

    I would think that Disney opting out of this scheme is less about their movies being gifts and more about the movies being used by small children. If the "average punter" who cannot rip a DVD or burn a copy buys their sprog a Disney movie, in less than six months they will likely need a new one.

    ..At least that's the expected lifetime of the movies I've burnt for my kids.

    1. sisk Silver badge

      Re: Disney's Opt-out

      There's a solution to this. The Disney DVDs stay safely locked away in my house and my four year old knows how to access them from my DLNA server through the PS3. The PS3 controller is the only thing she's allowed to touch, and while it's not indestructible it does seem to be far enough beyond her rather considerable ability to destroy things to be safe.

      1. QuinnDexter

        Re: Disney's Opt-out

        Disney = Apple = different solution offered later this year alongside iTunes and iTV perhaps? Is there a UV app yet?

  8. sisk Silver badge

    One advantage

    I only see one advantage to this, and it's not the 'upgrade' to HD. Unless you pay for the upgrade and they rip a Bluray instead of a DVD that'd be pointless. The advantage I see is being able to have your movie collection with you at all times. Put a Vudu client on a tablet or smart phone and you're all set. Other than that why would I not exercise my fair use rights and rip my DVDs to my own media server?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't get it, intelligent El Reg readers in this forum think that Walmart actually goes and rip each and every DVD they get, then upload it to the Ultraviolet service?

    'Cause that's NOT how it works. UV already has a catalog of SD and HD movies, they simply scan your DVD and authorise your download of the respective version.

    This is OBVIOUS from their PR: "Users can also pay $5 to upgrade a DVD to store a high-definition version in the cloud, if available."

    How else would the high-defintion version NOT be available if they were ripping and upscaling your DVD?

  10. CN Hill

    A digital copy of a DVD - because a DVD isn't digital?

  11. Dick Emery

    Fools and their money...

    Just grab Handbrake or MeGUI MakeMKV or one of the dozens of other freeware tools to rip and convert video.

    The problem is there are too many people who can't even be bothered to Google how to do these things and their computers are being wasted on them.

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