Hollywood's Kinder, Gentler DRM Didn't Even Last A Decade… And Is Still Screwing Over Movie Fans

from the because-of-course dept

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the legacy entertainment industry embraces a “new” DRM that it insists will change everything, and everyone will love it. And then, because of various reasons, they kill it off and people get screwed. Yeah, it’s happened over and over and over and over and over and over again. It’s one of the points we’ve raised from the very beginning on this site: buying into DRM means that you are relying on a company to continue to let you have access to the content you legally purchased a license to, and there’s no requirement that they have to continue giving you access.

And here we go again, with Ultraviolet. If you don’t recall, we first wrote about Ultraviolet in 2010, when most of the major movie studios (notable exception: Disney) stepped up to support what they tried to pitch as a kindler, gentler DRM that wouldn’t be so damn annoying. Of course, from the beginning it basically sucked and the studios started trying to give away bad movies to get people to sign up. And then, a few years later, they tried giving away more movies. The only other time in the last decade we mentioned Ultraviolet was that time that it pissed off the backers of a super successful Kickstarter project by making it difficult for thousands of people to watch the movie they’d backed.

Anyway, Ultraviolet is now dead. The studios are killing it off and most people won’t miss it. Of course, as with some of those previous stories, there is a half-hearted effort under way for the few people who actually used Ultraviolet to have a method of retaining access to the films they purchased, but you have to keep them tied to a specific retailer now. Of course, part of the reason for the shutdown of Ultraviolet is that Disney (who, as you recall, never joined UltraViolet, and went its own way) has built up its own system, Movies Anywhere. However, as the article above notes, Movies Anywhere is a bit of false advertising, as it’s only available in the US. People outside the US are… pretty much screwed as of right now.

As with many past DRM shutdowns, this really won’t impact that many people, but that’s kind of besides the point. It will still be a pain in the ass for the people who actually “did the right thing” according to the industry, and paid up. And they end up paying for a really annoying experience that could possibly even end with them no longer having access. Punishing the people who actually want to pay and want to support you seems like a really dumb way to run a business — but here we are. This is yet another reason why some people who would otherwise want to pay end up pirating works anyway: they don’t have to deal with this shit because they’re not reliant on big, dumb studios deciding to keep DRM servers up for more than a decade.

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Companies: disney

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Comments on “Hollywood's Kinder, Gentler DRM Didn't Even Last A Decade… And Is Still Screwing Over Movie Fans”

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54 Comments
Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Therein lies the problem. Illusion. The movie studios are so enamored with illusion, and using it to portray reality, some better, some worse, that for them the illusion is reality. They imagine that they are in control, but reality says something different.

Energize tantrums. Tantrums roll over into action, but the action they purport is MORE CONTROL, and the result is control that is not actually control. Then, years later when they find out they aren’t in CONTROL, raise the tantrum level. Repeat ad nauseam.

Frankly, I am sick of it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Lessons we learn

The lessons we get from this are to always make a backup of your legally obtained movies and music. If that backup happens to be more convenient and easier to sort and maintain then the old physical copies you purchased, great. If you also happen to be able to copy everything over to your current computer whenever you upgrade, that is how it should be.

My wife and I had a giant collection of Movies and shows on DVD and we systematically converted them to a format that would be accessible to us both on our home network. Now we have children and we simply copied the age-appropriate movies and shows to a separate network folder, manage permissions and bam. Instantly entertained.

If we went through the old method of trying to use ultraviolet for the movies that qualified, we would now be forced to dig out all of the bins full of DVDs and physically change them each time we wanted to watch something else. It is 2019 and I refuse to go backward in my abilities to consume media.

Same thing for my ebooks. I refuse to purchase them if I am unable to copy them to other formats. My entire collection will be passed down to my children to enjoy for the rest of their lives. Thousands of dollars of purchases over the course of years adds up quickly and not being able to save your library against the closure of a company or end of support for yet another format just seems ludicrous to me.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Lessons we learn

I use a program called MakeMKV that I can use to RIP my DVD’s HD DVD’s and Blu-Rays. It doesn’t cost all that much and you can try it for free. You turn your movie into a MKV file, which is really just a wrapper for Mpeg-4 or whatever. But you get rid of all the crap that’s on the disc and copyright notice and so on, it’s just the movie.

After that, if you want, you can use a free program called Handbrake. To shrink the file size down even more. It’s surprising how much you can get a DVD down to from going from Mpeg 2 of DVD to a more modern Mpeg 4.

So I don’t buy Digital Movies. I buy the Disc. Rip it myself and put it on my NAS for PLEX to use and put the disc into one of my 300 disc binders as a backup. Then I toss the bulky case. PLEX is like my own personal Netflix service. Except it’s all content I like. It’s always there. I can watch anywhere in my house or away from my house. Anywhere int the world in fact with an Internet connection.

I don’t trust the Cloud. Especially for DRM content. I want to be able to watch what I buy anyway I want. DRM really only screws people who are paying for the content.

Max (profile) says:

Aaaaaaand that is why I like DVDs so much. First – I did buy it, paid for it, sorry it’s now legally mine to watch; second – old tech, hacked seven ways to hell, there’s no way you get to ever stop me from watching it wherever, whenever and on whatever I freakin’ feel like from now on till the day I die (and third – it looks perfectly fine with a bit of help from analogue aliasing native to a CRT; I care about the movie, not the number of pixels it comes with…)

Gary (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I will often do this – beats being crushed by a stack of falling disks!!

Or at least I did until it became faster to DL a ripped copy from the interwebs. I can actually find a stream faster than I can dig thru my boxes of DVDs…

One day my legit ripped collection of CD’s will vanish from my cloud storage because it contains copyrighted material of course.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Doing it wrong.

Make no mistake, eventually the media cartels will get what they want: TV 2.0. When that happens, your online media collection is going to be as good as gone. Fair use or not, and your only recourse will be those DVD rips you kept on a local storage device.

The "future" really sucks.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

DVD rot is really not much of an issue. It was on some early DVD discs but they figured that out. Also, Stamped Disc are far more reliable then a disc you can Record on. I have close to 900 DVD’s HD DVD’s and Blu-Rays collected over the years. I’ve had 1 disc gone bad in all that time, and I’m not sure why. I got a new copy on disc and problem solved.

Besides, the Discs are to make my OWN Digital Copies. DRM free and on my own NAS where I can watch all that content anywhere in the world using PLEX. My own personal type Netflix service except better. It’s all content I like. It’s doesn’t come and go, and there’s no monthly fee.

All my Data is backed up onto another NAS. Which is really the only practical way to back up so much Data. Really, it’s easier than ever with rsync. 100% automatic.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

"DVD rot is really not much of an issue. It was on some early DVD discs but they figured that out"

Not 100%, though.

"I have close to 900 DVD’s HD DVD’s and Blu-Rays collected over the years. I’ve had 1 disc gone bad in all that time, and I’m not sure why. "

You’re lucky, I have slightly more than that and I’ve probably had more toward double figures. Just because it hasn’t happened to you, that doesn’t mean it never happened. It took me over 20 years before I had a hard drive fail on one of my personal machines, but that didn’t mean other people we’re having them.

"Besides, the Discs are to make my OWN Digital Copies"

Which is why Ultraviolet was conceived – it was to try and help remove the genuine reasons for making disc ripping software by claiming that it was unnecessary since they provided a copy separately. Luckily for everyone, they lost that play.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

That is until the DVD delaminates or whatever that illness is that comes to old disks. If you want to keep them till the day you die, then you best RIP them, and then make an Rsync backup to that. Oops, you don’t use Linux…well now we know why you live in the constrained world of Windows, cause it is available on IOS as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

In the early days of CD/DVD there were some issues with Manufacturing that could cause discs to rot and go bad in time. That has LONG AGO been fixed.

Among the manufacturers that have done testing, there is consensus that, under recommended storage conditions, CD-R, DVD-R, and DVD+R discs should have a life expectancy of 100 to 200 years or more; CD-RW, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, and DVD-RAM discs should have a life expectancy of 25 years or more.

I’ll be long dead by the time any really start to fail. I buy the discs to RIP the movie from it so I can use it any way I want to. I paid for it and so I should have that right.

Thad (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Aaaaaaand that is why I like DVDs so much. First – I did buy it, paid for it, sorry it’s now legally mine to watch

Well, kind of.

It’s legal for you to watch it on an authorized device with the official codec.

If you’re using DeCSS or any other free/open-source means of watching or ripping it, that’s not legal (at least, not in the US, where it violates the DMCA’s anti-circumvention clause).

Nobody’s ever going to take you to court over it, but it’s not entirely accurate to say you have a legal right to watch the disc you bought. You should have that right, but you don’t.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

More to the point – according to Hollywood’s creative re-interpretations, you still only bought a licence. It’s just that the tech is physically tied to a specific piece of plastic. That licence is still subject to their whims, although you have some more leeway in bypassing their stupidity.

They will still try to force you to watch the media in the way they wanted, to hell with what you actually think you paid for (see: unskippable trailers/anti-piracy warnings, region coding, several types of "copy protection" that often stop legal playback). They just don’t have the same direct options to screw with you as they do with digital.

You might be better off with physical in terms of things changing after purchase, but it’s hardly free from deliberate interference with your legal usage.

Anonymous Coward says:

Oh, those evil evil companies. They are just out of control. They offer products that you don’t like, and people buy them, in huge volumes. People are happy, companies are happy, but you are not. Maybe you are just an unhappy person who like to bitch and whine and nothing important.

Good Grief, Charlie Brown!

Let the market operate. If people don’t like a product, they won’t buy it. That’s the ultimate criticism, and has worked effectively for centuries. Who really sucks is the tyranny you try to practice on this site, telling the whole world (even the very distant Thai kingdom) what they should think and how they should act with your ridiculous band of uneducated idiots.

Sad. Pathetic even.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You’re right. They offered a product that made people happy, they took the money, and then they failed to deliver what they promised. Why are you surprised people are upset by that? Let the market operate? How is that going to work? Usually bad service results in the company going out of business. However, this is the opposite where the company is going out of business resulting in bad service. People who may have "owned" thousands of dollars worth of digital content on UV just had it blown away. And they have zero recourse because the company that provided it will no longer be.

SirWired (profile) says:

Err... All UV shifted to MoviesAnywhere

I have quite a few UltraViolet movies, and they all shifted over to MoviesAnywhere. The migration process took about five minutes, and all the streamer apps that played UV movies seem to also participate in MoviesAnywhere. And as an added bonus, when I buy a movie through a streaming platform, many now cross over to other streamers, and they didn’t do that before, and I no longer need a separate Disney account for my digital copies of their movies.

I love the digital movie codes; they are a nice bonus to go along with my physical media purchases.

SirWired says:

Re: Re: Err... All UV shifted to MoviesAnywhere

It’s just been the HD (or SD for DVD codes, or 4k if you bought a UHD disc) version of whatever the streaming platform you watch with normally delivers; we usually use Vudu, because of the well-deseigned Roku app. There’s no special lower-quality "UV" version.

And again, it’s a nice bonus. I still get the BluRay I actually bought. Seems like a win to me.

Gary (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Glenn raise an interesting point:

When you copy a film – no "Theft" occurs. You just have two copies. (Everybody wins and culture is advanced!!)

However when DRM strikes, the movie studio is actually taking away something you paid for. There are fewer copies. That is the actual definition of theft!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeTybKL1pM4

That One Guy (profile) says:

When 'collateral damage' is the ONLY kind you cause

As with many past DRM shutdowns, this really won’t impact that many people, but that’s kind of besides the point

Worth noting that of those that are impacted by this, I can all but guarantee that all or nearly all of them were paying customers, with the copyright infringers not being affected in the slightest.

When your ‘protection’ method(s) impact only the people who are foolish enough to pay you, and don’t hinder the ones you claim to be going after, it’s time to admit that at best you’re doing it horribly, horribly wrong.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: When 'collateral damage' is the ONLY kind you cause

Yes. Horribly, horribly wrong. Evil actually,. Deeply evil that should be erased from this earth never to return or even be considered again. Maybe the perpetrators should be punished, brutally, and without mercy, for their evil evil deeds.

What kind of moralistic horseshit are you preaching here? Do you even hear yourself?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yep, and hence the problem remains with DRM – it only affects people who actually buy the product. The people who never buy will never know this stiff exists, it’s only the people who bought who are having problems.

Ultraviolet was a bad idea to begin with the only people who ever thought it was a good idea were those who happened to not come across the problems. For the rest of us – UV had expiry dates (bought the disc too late, you get an inferior product), more restrictive region blocking than the discs (I can import a UK disc and play it fine, but get blocked from accessing the code that’s means to be part of the package I paid for), lock in to certain playback devices, and so on.

It was a transparent move at the time to try and stop legitimate arguments in favour of ripping discs legally, but this whole thing should reiterate the major problem with DRM – the only people having problems with UV shutting down are people who bought the legal product.

Anonymous Coward says:

The name too is kind of a hint, Ultraviolet

Not only is it a carcinogenic portion of the spectrum that degrades what it touches it brings to mind another one of their terrible ideas. (Flexplay)[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flexplay] the return free ‘rentals’ with the environmental disaster that embodies their artificial scarcity "You don’t own what you pay for!" perfectly all the while doing Jack and shit to stop people from just /copying/ the content from the discs. Silicon processing

The whole concept reeks of something a strawman Captain Planet villain would come up with but they actually went with it! Something that involves taking extra effort and paying more to get less in the end product.

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