Walmart offers $2 digital copies of your DVDs
HD will cost you more
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, and you don't have to hand over your discs for good.
Vudu will tie into Hollywood's UltraViolet cross-company DRM and cloud-based film storage platform, and industry players hope that Walmart's participation will not only help to promote the notion of UV - think of it as a virtual sideboard holding your discs - but make it easier for non-techies, who might be fazed by UV's sign up process or the concepts behind it, to participate.
UV is all about encouraging folk to buy movies rather than rent them, as the likes of Netflix and Lovefilm are encouraging us to do. The carrot is the flexibiliy to access content you own on almost any device, and to buy from multiple providers without compatibility concerns.
Movie distributors make much more money from selling discs to punters than they do selling rental licences to streaming companies. They also fear that far too many of theses services' disc-rental customers adopt a 'rent and rip' behaviour, copying the DVDs and BDs for future viewing when really they should be buying them.
This kind of disc-to-digital scheme was announced by Warner Home Entertainment Group President Kevin Tsujihara a couple of weeks ago.
Not all such folk are convinced. While Walmart's programme covers discs from 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner, Disney content is not covered. It undoubtedly makes too much money out of disc bought as gifts rather than for personal viewing.
The Walmart scheme - likely to be taken up by other retailers in due course - will encourage folk to gain digital copies without resort to ripping discs - a faff - or resorting to Torrented copies of dubious provenance.
Conveniently, for the content companies, it ties those who take up the offer into UV's DRM, helping to make the notion of encrypted files you don't really own so much as have a licence to view, commonplace. ®
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...)
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...
@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.
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...
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...)