Ultraviolet makes me want to get Ultra Violent
Monday, February 27, 2012 at 05:26PM
Jeremy Handel in Blu Ray, Ultraviolet, copyright, movies, technology

What on earth led us to this?

So I may be a little late to this party but there's a new game in town for digital "copies" of movies. You know how over the last few years DVDs (and more commonly, Blu-Rays) have been coming with digital copies?


Here's one

Well the way this has worked up until now is that you got a code in the box. You type this code into a box in iTunes (or, I guess, something else on windows?) and you get a digital copy of the movie that you can stream to various household devices as well as take with you on iPads and the like. Despite the overall truth that DRM is evil, if it is taken as read that DRM is a neccessary evil for the time being, this implementation has proved the least onerous currently available.

So of course, someone looked at it and said "no way, that's way too consumer friendly".

Enter Ultraviolet. Someone at Warner Brothers decided they could "improve" on this system and came up with the worst of all possible implementations.


Boo

With iTunes, you need an account with a credit card. For some people, this may be an annoyance but these days aren't Apple IDs issued at birth? So what is Ultraviolet's answer? "iTunes only requires one account so clearly, we should require two".

Yes. Two separate accounts that you then must link. Batting 1000 so far Ultraviolet. What you got for me next?

I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 digital copies of various movies I've purchased. I may not watch them often, but when it came time for a car trip with the kids, being able to drop a few movies on an iPod touch to play in the car was unbelieveably helpful. So what I'm saying here is, I have a growing video library, and that library exists in iTunes. So Ultraviolet looks at that and says, naturally, "oh no, this just won't do".

To watch a movie on your device, you have to use Flixster. Now before now, I had nothing against Flixster. It's a handy little app that I use to find movie times. I may not even be against streaming movies in Flixter except for the fact that I already have Netflix to handle that thank you very much. So downloaded movies - check and streaming movies - check. So why would I want to buy into an entirely different ecosystem at this point in the game?

Oh I know, it must be because the only way to watch these movies on the desktop is via an Adobe Air application.

Checkmate Ultraviolet.

Now I didn't discover a lot of this until after I had already entered the code in iTunes and gotten an error. I then contacted Ultraviolet support to explain the problem and request a replacement code. The response was a much longer email detailing the process above. So I responded:

I use iTunes to organize my movies, I don't want another application to watch a single movie.

While I understand how annoying it is to be one of those people that holds the support folks responsible for their corporate masters, I did get a response:

Hi Jeremy,

Unfortunately, iTunes is not available from us for this title. 

For additional information on how to stream and download your UltraViolet digital copy to your computer or compatible iOS or Android device, please see below.

Ugh. Some googling showed me that for some movies (like Harry Potter) they have been honoring the redeem codes to actually allow the advertised digital copy (as opposed to the mislabeled "untraviolet streaming") but they were digging their heels in. Plus I hadn't had my coffee yet.

Why on earth would you guys choose to break a perfectly acceptable system that works? (I understand you didn't do this personally)

This item was a gift. You are telling me that without buying into your completely separate system, I don't get the full use of this gift and now, since it is open, I cannot even return it.

And you wonder why people still choose to pirate. When you stop punishing the people who pay your bills, maybe things will change. ah well.

Thank you for making sure I stay away from any movie labeled "Ulraviolet" in the future.

Jeremy

I'll be awaiting an iTunes redeem code if your company comes to it's senses.

Was I too much of a dick? Maybe. But it's getting hard these days to be a movie fan. I still buy discs because I tend to value quality over convenience and Blurry (whoops, I mean Blu Ray) looks much better in my home theater. When I buy a movie, I want it to look it's best and I usually buy combo packs because it allows me to then watch the movie anywhere. This new iTunes competitor is user hostile, confusing, piontless and most damningly, just bad.

Come to your senses Ultraviolet people. Stop letting your business get in the way of taking my money.

Article originally appeared on mrjhandel (http://jeremyhandel.com/).
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