UV won't only be relevant to new purchases. On 16 April, US retail giant Walmart will allow shoppers to bring in their DVDs and BDs and pay to have digital copies added to their UV accounts. An SD copy will set punters back $2 (£1.26), an HD copy $5 (£3.15), even if someone only owns the DVD. They get their discs back.
Walmart's scheme is the first of its kind, and requires you to sign up for the retailer's online video store, Vudu, though the digital copies you buy can be played on Warner's Flixster app, available on a number of platforms.
Other firms will follow Walmart in the States. Best Buy is a DECE member and is expected to announce a similar disc-to-digital scheme soon. And the smart money suggests fellow DECE member Tesco will offer such a service too, no doubt tied to its online video store, Blinkbox, which it bought in April 2011. It's not hard to imagine Walmart-owned Asda doing so too some way down the line.
Will Tesco's BlinkBox offer disc-to-digital trade-ups?
In the US, Amazon has voiced its interest in UV. Its UK-based Lovefilm streaming service, like the rival Netflix, is a DECE member. Both are likely to support UV in due course, offering UV sales as an alternative to their streaming and rental services.
Warner Bros UK has said it will support UV on all future BD releases, and Sony is expected to do so when the CPP is launched this coming summer. Virgin Media may add UV playback to its TiVo set-top box. Tesco's Blinkbox has confirmed that it will support UV. So has Dixons, which launched its own online movie shop earlier this year.
UV's universality replicates the old-style retail world. It allows you to buy content wherever it's cheapest and play it on whatever (compatible) device/app combo you fancy. The exception is - surprise, surprise - iTunes.
Apple's DRM technology, FairPlay, isn't part of the UV spec. Apple won't make it available - or at least hasn't so far. Under Steve Jobs it would have been unimaginable for the company to support UV, which is the antithesis of his lock-the-customer-in philosophy. CEO Tim Cook seems less dogmatic than Jobs, but it's hard to see him willingly loosening the hold Apple has over folk who buy content from iTunes, especially when the company's iCloud service allows it to match the functionality UV offers, if not its universality.
Indeed, pipelined projects such as the rumoured 'iTV' Apple television and a TV subscription service, suggest the company is preparing for a two-horse race: iTunes vs UV; us and them.
For now, Apple has the edge: it has hundreds of millions of customers worldwide - there are just under a million UV accounts in play - it has a better known brand and it is already selling lots and lots of content. UV really won't come into its own until it is relaunched in the summer with CPP support and the true universality the common file format makes possible.
Apple's iTunes to support UV? Not likely
Apple alone then? Not entirely. Disney is developing its own UV-like service, called KeyChest. Like Apple - to which it was, in Jobs' day, connected through Pixar - Disney reckons its brand is strong enough that people will come to it, no matter what.
The real target
But there's room for Apple, Disney and UV. Indeed, while it's tempting to see UV as an industry-wide attempt to resist the rise of the Cupertino giant, it's actually about discouraging consumers from downloading pirate copies of films. Most folk do so because it's free, and that's going to be a hard sell, no matter how flexible UV is.
But for downloaders who object to previously imposed tight DRM limits and those who'd rather go legal if given a decent way to do so, UV is attractive. And since it renders the need to rip purchased discs largely unnecessary, it may have the effect of limiting the amount of content available on Torrents. Maybe.
As the UV website admits: "Whether these options are available, and the details of how they work, may vary by retailer and by title." Likewise, content licensing limitations means that the service, while available in multiple countries, doesn't necessarily mean you can stream a US movie to a UK user. The industry still wants some say in what you watch, when - and that may be too much control for movie fans. ®
WTF is... UltraViolet
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.
DRM = no freedom
We already have laws that cover theft, including illegal copying of media, and a legal framework that gives us the freedom to observe or break those laws. Within this context, I have the freedom to exercise responsibility and the respect the work that has gone into the creation of that media. I think the vast majority respect the work that has gone into the creation of movies and are happy to pay for it.
But in so many cases, technology is being developed to take away that freedom. Whether you wish to compensate creatives for their work or not is irrelevant - you must pay for what you view because it is not possible to do otherwise. This is what you do to a criminal, to someone who has betrayed the responsibility society has given them. Violent people are put in prison; bankrupts are denied many privileges; and so on.
And this is how DRM treats all of us - every customer is put in a cage like a criminal. And that lack of freedom ends up hurting as much as a cage; in some respect, it will restrict the privileges afforded to a free, honest citizen. It might be as simply as not being able to view the item you purchased, but it also restricts transferring your purchases to others (through private sale or gifting). DRM should be seen for what it is - an attack on human rights. Companies that pursue these technologies should be named, shamed, and boycotted.
As i write this..
My usenet account is downloading (ripped) blu-ray / hd copies of every dvd i own (some 300+).
Is that wrong?? Not in my book. I bought it on vhs, then dvd, i'll be fucked i they think i'm paying again for the "hi-def" version.
Does that make me a pirate? Probably. Do i care??
Is it a bird? Is it a plane, no its the flying fuck i dont give!