Have you ever thought: I wish I was able to get digital versions of my DVD movies? I mean, without using HandBrake and feeling like the movie industry is going to have you star in their next ‘You wouldn’t steal a car …’ promo? If you are concerned about the legality making a digital copy of a movie, you are not alone.
Recent rulings seem to indicate a reversal in prior findings that came down to ‘it is legal to have a digital copy, but not to make one’. The new ruling says that being lawful owner of the disk means you can’t be guilty of circumvention if the digital copy is used legally. Here is a summary:
The DMCA has (at least) two distinct provisions: a prohibition on circumventing copy protection that controls access to a work, and a ban on “trafficking” in circumvention tools. Judge Marshall seems to have accepted UCLA’s argument that its lawful purchase of the DVD meant it couldn’t have run afoul of the circumvention provision, but she didn’t spell out her reasoning. She then ruled that merely purchasing DVD-ripping software didn’t constitute “trafficking” in the software.
Anyway, if you are concerned about making the copies, or don’t want to have to store them on your local computer, but would rather have a cloud copy to access through tightly controlled apps … Walmart and the movie studios have a deal for you!
Beginning April 16, consumers will be able to take their DVDs to about 3,500 Wal-Mart stores and have a digital copy stored in the cloud — a storage system offering access from a broad array of Internet-connected devices — for $2 each. Customers will have the option to upgrade standard DVDs to high-definition online copies for $5 each.
Wal-Mart — by far the nation’s largest retailer of DVDs — will be the only store that can offer so-called “disc-to-digital” until its period of exclusivity ends in the fall. The retail giant received exclusive rights from the studios in exchange for an aggressive offer to launch the service first, according to people briefed on the matter but not authorized to discuss it publicly.
The news came as part of an event held in Hollywood on Tuesday announcing Wal-Mart’s support for UltraViolet, the online movie technology backed by most movie studios and a coalition of technology companies. The previously expected news provides a major boost to UltraViolet, which has had a rocky launch and faces a formidable competitor in Apple’s iCloud film service.
As part of the announcement, Wal-Mart’s online video store Vudu is now part of UltraViolet and all movies that it sells will be compatible with that service’s online cloud, which allows consumers to access films they own from a wide variety of digital devices.
Home entertainment executives from 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. at the event said Wal-Mart’s backing was the biggest advance yet for UltraViolet. They were particularly excited about the disc-to-digital option, which they said would acclimate consumers with existing DVD collections to storing their movies online.
Customers can take their DVDs to Wal-Mart photo centers where employees will add digital copies to Vudu accounts. To make sure the same disc is not copied multiple times, store associates will stamp the discs after the conversion is done. They won’t accept DVDs rented from outlets such as Redbox, Netflix and Blockbuster.
Not every movie will be available to convert, however, as studios have not yet created digital copies of all their movies. Universal Pictures, for instance, currently has about half of its library of 1,300 titles online.
Studios are hopeful that the Wal-Mart deal will pressure other retailers that don’t yet back UltraViolet, including Amazon.com and Best Buy, to jump on board.
As for whether it plays nice with iOS devices, this is from the FAQ:
UltraViolet works fine with Apple iOS devices if you download an UltraViolet app. Flixster Movies, the first UltraViolet-compatible app (released in Oct 2011), can stream and download UltraViolet movies on iPhones, iPads, Macs, Android devices, and Windows PCs. Using Apple AirPlay mirroring, iPad2’s and iPhone 4S’s can play the movies through Apple TV.
UltraViolet could work with iTunes, but only if Apple chooses to participate in UltraViolet. Until then, UltraViolet movies will play on Apple devices but won’t show up in iTunes.
What do you think? Will you be paying for any of these copies?