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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  1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    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.

    1. Kristian Walsh

      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.

      1. Wize

        "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.

      2. King Jack
        Thumb Down

        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.

        1. Kristian Walsh

          @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"...

          1. King Jack

            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.

    2. Magnus_Pym

      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.

      1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)



    3. NinjasFTW

      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.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    5. Real Ale is Best

      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.

    6. LoopyChew

      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.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Mike Richards Silver badge

        Whats lifetime mean

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

    8. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    9. rurwin

      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.

    10. James Micallef Silver badge

      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

  2. Andy 97
    Thumb Up

    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.

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      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.

  3. Stephane

    A wise man once told me...

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

  4. PaulW


    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.

  5. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  6. Tim Greenwood

    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.

  7. Magnus_Pym

    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.

  8. pullenuk


    Does ultraviolet have subtitles on downloads and streaming?

    Think about the deaf and hard of hearing people!

  9. ScottAS2
    Thumb Down

    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.

    1. James Micallef Silver badge

      "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.

      1. ScottAS2

        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.

        1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

          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.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  11. Bob Dunlop

    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.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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.

  12. Pat 11

    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.

    1. John Bailey

      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.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    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?

  14. Goat Jam

    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.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: It's not clear to me

      "No playing movies on flights then?"

      Download a copy or take the disc with you.

  15. Sphinx86

    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.

  16. NorthernSands

    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.

  17. Insane Reindeer
    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.

  18. sproot
    Thumb Up

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

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Isn't that Final Destination picture banned?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Film, this will probably go the same way.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

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

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Fine TV series

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

      2. King Jack

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

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    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.

  22. peterkin

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

    1. TonkaToys

      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.

  23. Murphy's Lawyer

    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...)

  24. Michael Duke

    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.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)



  25. Mike Flugennock

    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".

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

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

      It's a giant conspiracy!

    2. Dave Murray Silver badge

      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?

      1. Chad H.


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

        1. Mike Flugennock

          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.

  26. ph0b0s

    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.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (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.

      1. ph0b0s

        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.

        1. Andrew Orlowski (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.

  27. Roger Stenning


    ...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.

  28. Richard Boyce

    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.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)


      Tax everyone to pay for Hollywood?

      That's a winner!

      1. CD001

        *coughs BBC*

      2. zenp

        ...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...

  29. thenim

    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...

  30. JamesB12

    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."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    2. zenp

      Ah, the small print...


      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...

  31. sonicnights

    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.

  32. Jolyon Smith
    Black Helicopters


    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.

  33. Tom 38 Silver badge

    It sounds good

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

  34. strangefish

    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?

  35. CaptainHook

    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.

  36. Citizen Kaned

    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....

  37. teebol

    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.

  38. Evan Essence


    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.

  39. trydk

    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?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      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......

  40. This post has been deleted by its author

  41. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    Doesn't sound it's going that well.

  42. Barry Rueger

    "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.

  43. David Haworth

    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? :)


    1. Mike Flugennock

      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.

  44. GrumpyJoe

    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.

  45. kurkosdr

    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.

  46. christopher hinton

    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.

  47. hexx

    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).

    1. Charles 9 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.

      1. hexx

        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.

        1. Charles 9 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.

        2. Mike Flugennock
          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.

  48. Christian Berger

    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.

    1. Figgus

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

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    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.

  50. Joe Harrison

    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.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    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?

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If it doesn't work on Apple devices = big FAIL

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Physical media still - how quaint. When will they realise that many of us do not want physical media and would be more than happy to stream / download (only). Physical media may be required for some people but those same people probably do not want to stream it - so perhaps they are paying more for an all-in-one package of Blu-Ray, DVD and digital copy when they only wanted one.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't be fooled into thinking the film companies are doing this for US - you won't be able to resell your DVDs or Blu-Ray discs as they are tied to you in the license and I suspect you will pay more for a pack with Blu + DVD + Download when you may have only needed / wanted one of them.

  56. Dylan Fahey

    And what happens when your 'local' government bans a video?

    And what happens when your government, I mean your corporation, bans a video as subversive or X rated?

    None of this is good. DRM is bad, in any form.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Other side of the story..

This topic is closed for new posts.

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