Why Ultraviolet Is Killing DVD And Blu-ray, Not Saving Them

By Katey Rich 2012-11-29 13:07:16discussion comments
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We are moving constantly closer to a world in which movies are not a physical object. Most people lived in that world for decades, of course, as movies were limited to reels of film projected in a movie theater, and the idea of "owning" your favorite film was as crazy as the idea of "owning" the movie stars who acted in it. But after decades of VHS and DVD and Blu-ray we grew used to shelves crammed with movies the way others collect books-- and now, with digital downloads and streaming taking over more and more of the market, we're getting used to owning these movies without purchasing anything physical at all.

Studios and DVD manufacturers hate this-- there are still a ton of profits to be made in selling physical DVDs and especially trumped-up Blu-ray sets, and a lot of studios seem frustrated with Apple's iTunes being the default method to buy digital copies of both music and movies. But just as there were years in which Blu-ray and HD DVD both competed for the high-def home video market, there are all kinds of ways to own your movies digitally right now, and it varies greatly based on how you're watching them. You need to do something different if you want to store your movie on your Xbox or on your computer, on iTunes or simply somewhere on your hard drive. There's still incentive to own movies, since streaming licenses can run out with little warning, but the ability to organize your movies as neatly as they would be on your shelf is virtually nonexistent.

The closest thing we have to a universal content source is iTunes, where many many movies are available for purchase or rental, and where you're probably already keeping your music anyway. But many studios have embraced Ultraviolet, which allows them to promise the same "digital copy" you would get with your DVD that would work with iTunes, but offers them a system over which they have more control (using a handful of third-party systems like Flixster and Vudu). The problem with it is simple: Ultraviolet is garbage. And as long as studios hang on to it, they'll only be killing their own physical media faster.

Today I attempted to use Ultraviolet to access two digital copies of movies I recently received-- the Magic Mike DVD, and the Lawrence of Arabia Blu-ray. The Magic Mike attempt was abject failure-- I went to the URL provided, entered my code, was told several times the code was invalid, finally got them to recognize the code, then watched the system freeze in two separate browsers. I gave up. I have Handbrake on my computer and can easily transfer the DVD file into my iTunes, easy to access and mine forever.
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