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CES: Rovi announces an UltraViolet content access solution

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 09 Jan 2012 13:56 User comments (1)

CES: Rovi announces an UltraViolet content access solution Rovi, the software company who bought Sonic Solutions a few months ago, is introducing a new framework for offering consumers digital copies of their DVDs and Blu-ray discs.
Rovi Digital Copy Solution is designed to be integrated into computer software and consumer electronics devices as a client for viewing content licensed via the UltraViolet, aka UVVU or UV, rights management system.

UltraViolet is a "digital rights locker" which allows you to register Blu-rays or DVDs which have the UVVU logo on them. In theory this allows you to stream or download them to a variety of devices, but the process of enabling this is convoluted to say the least.

For starters, UltraViolet doesn't actually provide any copies. It is nothing more than a clearinghouse for content licenses. They keep track of what content you have purchased, but you have to find a third party service provider to actually get copies of the content.

That's where the new Rovi solution comes in. It can be built into clients for software or consumer electronics devices, allowing them to automatically identify and help you register your UVVU discs. It also provides an interface for service providers to find out what UVVU titles you have registered.

The service provider can then offer you access to a copy of the title for streaming or downloading. The cost would be dependent on their particular business model.

For example, Microsoft could make UltraViolet downloads or streaming available to Xbox Live Gold members, much like they do with Netflix streaming. A more likely scenario for the new Rovi system is integration with CinemaNow, which was built by Rovi-owned Roxio. CinemaNow is owned by Best Buy, who is also a member of the DECE (Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem) consortium which developed UltraViolet.

In theory, a provider could choose to offer UltraViolet content for free. Flixster already does this for Warner Brothers UltraViolet titles. Of course they are also owned by Warner, so their primary interest is in promoting UltraViolet, not making money from it.

There is no obligation for anyone to provide any free access to content. In fact, once you add the cost of licensing techology from a company like Rovi to annual license fee for UltraViolet and operational expenses for providing downoads or streaming video, there are plenty of good reasons to charge a fee.

Perhaps more importantly, since UltraViolet uses a video codec which isn't part of the DVD-Video standard and DRM which isn't compatible with either the DVD-V or BDMV (Blu-ray movie) standards, taking advantage of UVVU is significantly more complex than just making a backup on your own or even using a service like Netflix.

In the end, what Hollywood appears to be counting on is that consumers will be willing to pay extra for unneccessarily complicated and restrictive access to something they have already purchased. On top of that, they are passing most of the costs for building the required infrastructure on to the service providers.

It's hard to see how this works out well for anyone.

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1 user comment

110.1.2012 11:33

CinemaNow..........I remember when they first came out.......what a great idea and notion at the time of streaming movies @ 500-768Kbps......

Now.....just a nonsense flop. A dot com bust that actually refuses to "bust". I have to vomit, I just do it and get it over with because I feel better afterwards......CinemaNow should do the same.

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