US retail giant Walmart is to offer punters digital copies of each of their DVDs and Blu-rays for $2 (£1.27) a pop.
Converting a standard definition title to HD will cost $5 (£3.18), the firm said. Every digital copy is delivered through Walmart's online streaming service, Vudu.
Discs don't have to have been bought at Walmart, and you don't have to hand over your discs for good.
Vudu will tie into Hollywood's UltraViolet cross-company DRM and cloud-based film storage platform, and industry players hope that Walmart's participation will not only help to promote the notion of UV - think of it as a virtual sideboard holding your discs - but make it easier for non-techies, who might be fazed by UV's sign up process or the concepts behind it, to participate.
UV is all about encouraging folk to buy movies rather than rent them, as the likes of Netflix and Lovefilm are encouraging us to do. The carrot is the flexibiliy to access content you own on almost any device, and to buy from multiple providers without compatibility concerns.
Movie distributors make much more money from selling discs to punters than they do selling rental licences to streaming companies. They also fear that far too many of theses services' disc-rental customers adopt a 'rent and rip' behaviour, copying the DVDs and BDs for future viewing when really they should be buying them.
This kind of disc-to-digital scheme was announced by Warner Home Entertainment Group President Kevin Tsujihara a couple of weeks ago.
Not all such folk are convinced. While Walmart's programme covers discs from 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner, Disney content is not covered. It undoubtedly makes too much money out of disc bought as gifts rather than for personal viewing.
The Walmart scheme - likely to be taken up by other retailers in due course - will encourage folk to gain digital copies without resort to ripping discs - a faff - or resorting to Torrented copies of dubious provenance.
Conveniently, for the content companies, it ties those who take up the offer into UV's DRM, helping to make the notion of encrypted files you don't really own so much as have a licence to view, commonplace. ®
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