updated 09:00 pm EST, Thu November 17, 2011
Studios had hoped for an iTunes alternative
Customers who are having problems or are dissatisfied with Ultraviolet, the digital streaming movie alternative to iTunes, are ironically being given iTunes redemption codes when their complaints cannot be resolved, reports AppleInsider. The Ultraviolet format, which is support mainly by Sony and Warner Brothers, has received harsh reviews and complaints from critics and consumers alike, doesn't work with Apple TV and some other iOS devices.
The idea behind Ultraviolet was to provide a more locked-down DRM alternative to the iTunes-compatible "digital copy" of a movie or video that has often been included with the purchase of DVD or Blu-Ray discs, giving consumers a legal way to transfer the content to their computer and mobile devices and watch where they wanted within limitations. The Ultraviolet version of digital copy doesn't work with all iOS devices and requires a separate movie-viewing app (Flixster) in order to use it. In addition, it is a streaming-only technology that requires additional sign-ups, Adobe Flash, and logins for authorization. The coalition behind it has recently been mulling a system that would simplify access to the digital streamed copy, but it would still require components and verifications that make it impractical for mobile use.
Customers who rely on iTunes or want to set up their own home-media servers have been frustrated by the Ultraviolet system, to the point that Warner Brothers has set up a support website to help customers who are having problems. The format has the backing of many top entertainment companies, but neither Disney nor Apple supports it.
Ultraviolet's system relied more on DRM, but offers reasonably wide latitude on usage; users can theoretically play UV digital copies on up to 12 devices that supports it, and up to six family members can access the same library of streamed media. Apple and Disney preferred the current non-UV "digital copy" system as it allowed users to copy the file onto any device they owned in a format that iOS, Windows, Mac and other platforms could play while remaining legal (since the digital copy is provided with the disc purchase, users do not have to illegally circumvent DRM protection on the DVDs or spend the time doing so to obtain their own digital copies).
The two companies have also been floating an alternative non-DRM scheme called Keychest, where a central third-party company (likely Apple) would record purchases when registered, allowing them to view the same content on any other Keychest-supporting system without restriction -- as opposed to some current methods that only work with Microsoft's DRM schemas. Apple has also been negotiating with studios to allow iCloud streaming and storage similar to iCloud's abilities with music and TV shows, but many studios appear to be hoping that Ultraviolet and other "digital copy provided" formats may work to increase physical disc sales, even as trends show that consumers prefer serving or streaming digital copies to their devices. [via AppleInsider]