WTF is... UltraViolet

Cloud Nine or Hurt Locker?


Feature

Reg Hardware Gizmo Week logo small

We're all used to buying movies and TV series on disc. Many of us are accustomed to downloading films and shows from the likes of Apple's iTunes. A fair few of us stream video content from Netflix or Lovefilm. Wouldn't it better to combine all three into a single system?

Such a combo is what the Hollywood-backed UltraViolet is trying to become, and with the support of the best known content companies in the film business, plus retail giants like Tesco and Walmart; computing fims like Adobe, Microsoft, HP, IBM and Nvidia; IPTV players and broadcasters, including BSkyB and BT; streamers Netflix and Lovefilm; and hardware makers Panasonic, Philips, LG, Sony, Samsung, Toshiba and more - all members of the 75-strong Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) consortium - it's hard to see it failing to succeed.

Not that it's the only player in town. Apple's iTunes stands apart, back turned, arms folded, nose high. Indeed, it's unlikely to ever be a part of UV since it is one of the service's key competitors. So too are all the folk making disc rips available through Torrent sites.

The UltraViolet way

UltraViolet, which launched in October 2011, is pitched as a universal cloud-hosted movie library. The notion is that all your content - not just what you will buy but also what you've already bought - will be permanently available to you on the internet.

Buy a film on Blu-ray Disc and, once you've created a UltraViolet account, either directly at the UV website or through the disc distributor's online shop, and you'll be able to stream the content too, not just watch it on your TV using a BD player.

How UltraViolet works

You'll be able to download it too, for offline viewing - handy if you want to take a stack of films with you to while away the hours on a long flight, say.

Delete the file deliberately or accidentally, and you'll always be able to re-download it. Or simply stream it to avoid having to find disk space for it.

If you're not collecting discs any longer, you'll be able to buy UV movies just as you would a download from iTunes, Vudu or Blinkbox.

How UltraViolet works

Behind this process is a framwork that combines file formats and digital rights management (DRM) technology, and a mechanism to connect cloud-stored licences to content owners' online archives.

UV accounts don't store the content itself, only the licence that grants the account holder the right to view the material. Stream a movie through a UV partner's website or their app, and the system confirms that you're allowed to watch it. It then initiates a stream, or download, from whatever server farm holds the video file.

Paramount Ultraviolet-based cloud movie store

Paramount's UV store

There are two advantages here. First, content owners need only hold a couple of copies of each title, one in SD, the second in HD. Users' accounts don't accumulate copies of movies themselves.

Secondly, if a studio decides to offer, say, 4K by 2K copies, it can do so easily. If it likes, it could provide existing customers with access to those higher resolution files simply by updating their licences.

Next page: Licenced premises

Other stories you might like

  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading
  • Big Tech loves talking up privacy – while trying to kill privacy legislation
    Study claims Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft work to derail data rules

    Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft often support privacy in public statements, but behind the scenes they've been working through some common organizations to weaken or kill privacy legislation in US states.

    That's according to a report this week from news non-profit The Markup, which said the corporations hire lobbyists from the same few groups and law firms to defang or drown state privacy bills.

    The report examined 31 states when state legislatures were considering privacy legislation and identified 445 lobbyists and lobbying firms working on behalf of Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft, along with industry groups like TechNet and the State Privacy and Security Coalition.

    Continue reading
  • SEC probes Musk for not properly disclosing Twitter stake
    Meanwhile, social network's board rejects resignation of one its directors

    America's financial watchdog is investigating whether Elon Musk adequately disclosed his purchase of Twitter shares last month, just as his bid to take over the social media company hangs in the balance. 

    A letter [PDF] from the SEC addressed to the tech billionaire said he "[did] not appear" to have filed the proper form detailing his 9.2 percent stake in Twitter "required 10 days from the date of acquisition," and asked him to provide more information. Musk's shares made him one of Twitter's largest shareholders. The letter is dated April 4, and was shared this week by the regulator.

    Musk quickly moved to try and buy the whole company outright in a deal initially worth over $44 billion. Musk sold a chunk of his shares in Tesla worth $8.4 billion and bagged another $7.14 billion from investors to help finance the $21 billion he promised to put forward for the deal. The remaining $25.5 billion bill was secured via debt financing by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Barclays, and others. But the takeover is not going smoothly.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022