Of course, that's unlikely to happen for free. UV currently offers two content profiles: one for SD content, the other for HD and SD content. Crucially, though, UV makes it possible to add higher resolutions or simply better copies - there's an audio drop-out in the current version, say - of existing files, easily and without troubling the customer.
But, yes, all this involves DRM, to prevent folk giving content away to all and sundry. But the DECE partners have tried to provide a true 'buy once, play anywhere' system that's as flexible for the viewer as working with DRM-less files can be.
UV's licensing terms allow the content licensed to any given account to be accessible by up to six household members. Any device with a web browser will be able to stream that content, and three files can be streamed simultaneously. UV's Ts&Cs permit downloads to a total of 12 devices. You can own one physical copy: either the Blu-ray Disc you started out with, or a secure memory card if you bought a download.
You can even sell the disc on or give it away, but it's unclear - the UV partners are vague about this - what that does to your digital copies. If they came 'bundled' with the discs you've just got rid of, you no longer have a right to the. Whether UV prevents the new owner from gaining downloadable copies - or automatically transfers your licence to them - remains to be seen.
Sequel server: Warner Bros' first UK UltraViolet release
UltraViolet is, the DECE claims, built on standards. It has a Common File Format (CFF) derived from Microsoft's Protected Interoperable File Format (PIFF) and which holds AES-encrypted or unencrypted audio and video and DRM data. The Motion Picture Experts Group (MPEG) is wrapping the DECE's file format into the MPEG 4 container and other UV elements into its Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH) protocol.
The DRM schemes UV files hold are Marlin, used by many connected TVs; the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) and the Content Management License Administrator's (CMLA) OMA 2.0, which is found on many mobile phones; Google's Wildvine; Microsoft's PlayReady; and Adobe's Flash Access 2.0.
Any of these DRM technologies can be used to play the file. Using the profile information, an SD player will only play SD content, but an HD player will handle HD or SD, as appropriate.
It's not all there yet, though. While some UV partners are currently offering downloads, the files transferred aren't yet fully compliant with the CFF, which isn't due to be finalised and launched until summer 2012. At this stage, it's unclear whether copies bought now will automatically be replaced with CFF-based ones, but there's no reason to believe they will not be. Annoying early adopters will do nothing to promote UV, especially when the industry is so keen to stress the service's consumer friendliness.
Once CFF-based download content is available, it will allow material purchased from source A to be freely viewed on source B's player. Viewers won't be tied to specific companies, just to the UV ecosystem as a (very big) whole, which is essentially what we've grown used to with physical media.
Next page: Converting libraries
What is c, e, and pi in your world?
"Secondly, if a studio decides to offer, say, 4K by 2K copies, it can do so easily. If it likes, it could provide existing customers with access to those higher resolution files simply by updating their licences."
And they will use RFC-1337, "IP over invisible unicorn ponies" to deliver it.
No, wait, they will NOT offer you this upgrade - you will have to buy a new disk, a new player, and a new level of service in Ultraviolet to get an upgrade like this.
And since Sony is involved, it will eventually be discovered that the service has installed a rootkit on your Windows computer (because That Which Is Not Windows shall not have Ultraviolet) and has disabled your Blu-ray writer and permanently enabled your webcam ("the better to monitor you, my sweetie"). Also, one day you will be given the choice to either "upgrade" your software, which will no longer work on Thursdays (because pirates copy things on Thursdays), or lose any ability to use the service.
That's why I disregard Ultraviolet, or the "digital" copies that are nothing but a waste of media. If I care to spend my money on a movie, I get a Blu-ray/DVD pack (and if there are other formats in the pack, so be it). I use the Blu-ray on my HD TV, and the DVD gets introduced to Mr. Handbrake.
A grave misconception
"yes, all this involves DRM, to prevent folk giving content away to all and sundry."
No, not to prevent you giving away - it's to make sure that every single use of the content is explicitly sanctioned by the "rights holder". So that they could stop you from using it at any time they like and so that you could not invent a new way of using the content without a prior approval by them.
Why can't people see it? Must be something they put in the water, or I will start believing in chemtrails soon...
@Chris 3 BD does not disappear
"If you buy a blu-ray disk and UV it, the blueray disk doesn't magically disappear."
Read AACS white paper on key revocation.