updated 08:30 am EDT, Mon March 14, 2011
UltraViolet may use DVD scans to get movie rights
The UltraViolet digital media standard could use a customer's own DVDs as a way of giving them permanent access to a movie, insiders said Monday. Partners in the group are mulling an option for users to scan in their DVDs and get access to any movie that matches up with the UV library. The approach described to CNET would be a way of encouraging viewers to get into the UV system without forcing them to give up an existing catalog.
Disputes have surfaced as to the viability of the strategy. As with music, some traditional outlets are concerned about disc trading being used to overcome the method. Someone who had a DVD could hand it to someone else and promptly get the same access as the original owner, the sources said. One objecting studio has floated the possibility of random checks, but the approach would defeat the purpose of the cloud locker and might create problems for owners of ultraportable notebooks without optical drives.
Basic issues such as whether or not to offer HD are still up for debate in spite of its ubiquity in online video.
Adoption will also be a challenge. Major companies such as Comcast, Microsoft, Netflix, Nokia, Sony, and major studios all support UV, as do the major movie studios. Talks are reportedly underway with cable companies and Internet providers beyond Comcast to get UV lockers that could be integrated with their existing services. However, two of the largest companies in media, Apple and Disney, have declined to support it.
Disney already has its own system, Keychest, but Apple has typically insisted on an all-or-nothing approach to standards. It has usually argued that it either has no copy protection at all, such as with its iTunes music store, or else that it has to use its own FairPlay copy protection format. CEO Steve Jobs has argued in the past that a generic copy protection standard is not only inherently less secure but raises doubts about who's liable when content is invariably pirated.
UV is still young and won't see the first compatible devices ship until the middle of this year at the earliest, with service also likely to show at the same time. An ecosystem might not truly be established until the start of 2012 and a wave of new devices.