updated 09:50 pm EDT, Mon October 10, 2011
UltraViolet has wide but potentially vague rights
The long in the making UltraViolet platform will get its formal launch this week. Starting with the October 11 Blu-ray release of Horrible Bosses and the October 14 release of The Green Lantern, viewers who prove ownership of a UV-aware title will have access to it across computers, mobile apps on Android, BlackBerry, and iOS, and even across services. The rights include five major movie studios and, for an extra fee, can sometimes involve getting a physical copy for something they only own digitally.
In a significant step, Warner Home Entertainment has promised that it won't try to block online access to a movie during its "HBO window," or the interval when a movie is on the premium cable channel and often excluded from competing sources.
Rights have nonetheless caused some concern. Despite claims, rights aren't completely universal. Every account can have six members and 12 devices spread across those members, which can handle a typical family but may create problems with those who have multiple devices or who upgrade frequently.
Rights are also "not guaranteed" and could change, the UV group said. Studios and services can offer more rights than the default, but these won't necessarily be consistent. Videos may also lose their streaming rights after a year or demand extra costs.
The system represents an attempt to steer viewers to legal methods of buying and renting video online and overcome objections to going digital by giving the same sense of possession as with a physical copy. Neither Apple nor Disney have signed on themselves, however, and are consequently excluding both iTunes as well as some important videos and TV shows.
Hurdles also exist in market share. Netflix largely controls the digital video realm in the US with 64 percent share, according to NPD data. In the pay per title arena, Apple is in front with 65.8 percent revenue share and would leave UV split across just a small piece of the market. [via GigaOM]