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Streaming DVDs from a Dutch company

Written by Jari Ketola @ 19 May 2004 15:42

Streaming DVDs from a Dutch company Dutch company DVDstream promises to deliver streaming DVDs to its customers at a fixed price of 12.42 euros (or $14.89) per month. The movies are streamed at a resolution of 768x576 via a broadband Internet connection and viewed on TV or computer.
The system utilizes a device called PalmButler 600, which is basically a long s-video + audio cable combined with a serial port IR receiver bundled with a software and an IR transmitter. The PalmButler needs a TV-card with s-video output to operate.

To keep the prices low DVDstream has come up with an ingenious scheme -- each customer purchases the movie they wish to view at a pre-defined price, which is then streamed to the user by DVDstream. In theory the customer purchases a DVD and makes a copy of it for personal use, which is perfectly legal in the Netherlands. When the user is done watching the movie, he or she can sell it back to DVDstream. So in the end the consumer ends up paying only the monthly fee -- the payments for movies are just temporary deposits.

Obviously there are several legal aspects that are not too clear at all. For instance, is it legal for a third party (ie. DVDstream) to make a "personal copy" of a movie on behalf of the end user? DVDstream states that for each DVDstream copy there is an original DVD, so at least in theory they are not selling the same copy several times.

One can't argue that the idea is innovative and interesting. However it is highly doubtful that the service will remain online too long. Then again the Netherlands has always been a pretty cool place -- maybe they'll manage to see the positive sides of DVDstream's endeavour, too.

DVDstream currently offers around 500 titles, and will be expanding the selection to over 2000 titles within a couple of months.

More information: (in Dutch, Babelfish English translation) (in Dutch, Babelfish English translation)

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