My biggest issue with buying digital movies has always been the lock in factor. If I buy from Amazon, I can't watch it on my Chromecast, if I buy from Google, I can't watch it on the Xbox, and if I buy from iTunes, I can't watch anywhere but an Apple device or iTunes. The only digital movies I've bought to date have been Disney movies because of the previous Disney-only version.
I wonder how it works if a partner decides to leave. From what I understand, when Microsoft left the Disney program, Disney movies shared to your Microsoft account stuck around and Disney movies shared from your Microsoft were still available on the rest.
I always recommend buying physical Blu-rays. Due to wholesale/retail pricing you can almost always get them cheaper than digital, they usually come with digital copies, and you can always resell or loan out discs.
That being said, this launch has been nice for letting my digital copies work with more apps, and it liberated a few titles I had stuck back in Google land.
And yes, movies stay on both sides of a disconnection.
Looking into this earlier today, turns out there's a thriving aftermarket niche of sites reselling grey-market Ultraviolet codes.
Unlike Steam code resellers these aren't primarily sourced from credit card fraud. Instead, collectors purchase Blu-rays for their own use and then resell the digital license, recouping some of their costs. There are also Redbox operators and the like reselling those codes.
Anyway, long story short, you can generally purchase an Ultraviolet HD code for a movie you want to watch for approximately the same price as renting it, and you get to keep it forever. I can't vouch for any of these sites personally but there are various communities on Reddit and elsewhere that offer that function.
And now with Movies Anywhere, if you link to both Vudu and iTunes, and it's one of the participating studios, you get a license for the 4k HDR movie too. Not too shabby.
Though arguably, they can't stop you from legally reselling your disc, and the code can't be transferred away from the initially redeemed account. And since they can't track the code prior to redemption, they can't do much to stop you from selling a slip of paper or the letters contained on it.
Another questionable practice if you haven't heard, is using Vudu's Mobile Disc 2 Digital (MD2D) service via a UPC code generator. Basically, it's intended for you to scan the barcode of movies you own. It location locks to your home address, but it's easily circumvented with a list of UPCs online. This lets you buy any Ultraviolet-supported movies for $2 a pop (and they will transition to Movies Anywhere correctly), but the assumption when they "sold" them to you is that you already owned them.
Personally I avoid both techniques because I feel heavy abuse of these unintended methods will lead to a crackdown/worse experience for everyone else.
So the rabbit hole goes deeper yet! That MD2D service is too unambiguously dubious for my taste. If you're going to so much trouble, why not just pirate the movie in the first place?
Reselling digital codes may be contrary to their terms of service, but is legal under first sale doctrine. But that's not what puts it on the side of the angels for me-- the key point there is that every digital code came from an actual physical sale.
As for "why not just pirate", I would guess one time purchases that cheap may actually save you money on storage, backup, everything's in the cloud, etc. And of course, most pirates have excuses/justifications for their behavior: I've regularly heard "at least they get something, people would pirate it otherwise" used in reference to it.
Legally they are on equal grounds. Morally, I find reselling UV codes to be less scummy because each code is associated with an actual sale and cannot be used multiple times. That's just where my personal line is drawn.
So, I am wondering if using MD2D, now that there is no lock in to VUDU only, is actually a viable service. Especially if you can take a DVD, upgrade it to HD with VUDU ($5), and then get it in 4k from iTunes (assuming that movie now has a 4k). And I mean to use this for movies I actually do own. However, I could see it being abused and locked down though.
Yes, if that movie is from a studio that cooperates with Movies Anywhere and it's on iTunes, you'll get a 4k license from iTunes.
Everybody thought iTunes Match would be shutdown really quickly too because it was so easily exploitable. That was the service where you could pay $25 and iTunes would essentially replace all your Kazaa/Napster-pirated music with real iTunes licenses. But those fears were never realized, it was not widely exploited and is still available today years later.
My feeling is that if you have to pay and the only actual benefit is a legal license, pirates won't do it. Period. Money involved, and they stay away.
The general notion seems to be that when you implement a service like this, you know it will be exploited to some amount, but that the amount will be negligible compared to the percent of well-behaved users.
The DMA/MA disconnect/reconnect method can actually be used to share movies permanently too, since each title remains on both sides when you disconnect, and a connection shares all your titles across both ways. Say you connect Vudu to MA today, and six months later, you can disconnect them, and use your MA account to share with another Vudu account, and your Vudu account to share with another MA account. Six months after that, each of those can split off and share with others... Add the fact that there's four retailers and this is extremely exponentially gameable. My hope/assumption is that Disney bothered to develop some sort of way to look out for abuse, but they might just be assuming it won't be commonly exploited.
If someone is going to do something that is questionable unethical and more than likely against the terms of service anyway like find UPC codes online, then why not just torrent the movie and put it on Plex server and have more flexibility.
I had routinely entered the Ultraviolet codes from DVDs/BluRays into Vudu, but never used it because the apps/website for the service always seemed so clunky to me(and since it was all disc codes, it was just easier to rip the disc and put it on Plex), but now all those movies are in much more useful Amazon and Google for formats for me, so it's a nice bonus.
I think you both are right: historically, Vudu was a bit of a mess to use, but eventually it became pretty good/decent. However, if you had that initial clunky experience, you may've never come back to find out that it is okay now.
The PS4 has Amazon Video, Netflix, and its own movie store.
Chromecast for everything else.
But did you notice yet that iTunes, Google Play, Amazon and the Playstation Store all stream from the exact same catalogue at the exact same prices. I mean sure, they are all attempting their exclusive content, but when you are looking for a blockbuster movie or old show its all the same selection and prices.
You can't create an account without agreeing to this:
"I authorize Movies Anywhere to share personal information regarding my Movies Anywhere account, together with my video titles, descriptions, and other video activity information (collectively "Video Data") with:
Each Digital Retailer to which I connect my Movies Anywhere account and its service providers;
Participating Studios and their affiliates and service providers; and
Service Providers of Movies Anywhere."
I'm fairly privacy-obsessed, but this doesn't sound like a massive issue to me. I don't consider my movie collection to be significant privacy-wise. My movie collection is actually poor at indicating my interests, it's also only a fragment of my actual movie watching activity, and for what it's worth, Movies Anywhere collects barely any personal information: It asks for your first name only and your email address. (This information is ALREADY going to be available to any retailer you have an account with.)
I think it makes sense that retailers would want to sync your "video activity information" and that studios (who bear the cost of running MA, unlike UV, which retailers ate) would want to see usage activity and be able to correlate that with how well their films are marketable long-term.
First name and email address is plenty to associate with an identity. They just need one other source for the email address that has your last name.
Having a whole network of companies know what you watch, when, the rating (if they have ratings), etc, is fairly intrusive in my view, but we all have our own threshold.
When you give up control of your data, act accordingly. Given the scope of the disclosure, it is probably best to assume that any data you give this service will eventually be stolen (perhaps made public), resold (if possible, if not, watch for retroactive assignment of rights), requested by law, etc.. Basically, there's a not-insignificant probability that at some point, anyone who is interested will be able to see your activity or some portion of it.
I agree with all of those notions. But again: Every retailer I connect already knows my name and email address (I have an account with them), and I pretty much talk/post about what I watch online publicly to begin with.
You can opt out of the Video Data sharing with the last two (Participating Studios and their affiliates and service providers; and Service Providers of Movies Anywhere) by accessing the "Video Data Sharing" section of your account.
That said, it's probably best to steer clear if privacy is a concern.
Noticed the other evening that Amazon no longer streams HD to my ThinkPad. I'm guessing because I took the recommended steps a few months ago to cripple its Management Engine functionality as a work-around to the severe ME exploit (you know, runs its own web server whose password is trivially and unavoidably bypassed).
At this point, I'm going to say "Fuck it." I've never pirated. (Well, there was that time in the 90's when I used, as an experiment, Napster, to download a French music album I couldn't even buy in the States, at that time. Oh, and, by the way, it's on Spotify, now... And I also now a bought and paid for physical copy, courtesy of a visit to Montreal or Germany (I forget which), not too long after my Napster experience.)
Anyway... fuck it. I'm willing to pay, but it's going from hassle to outright security risk. I'll taking pirating over this.
Is this just a digital locker for movies? Other HN comments seem excited about this but I think it will be irrelevant for most users. When I used to digitally buy/rent movies, I would watch them that same day and then be done, so a "locker" feels like an insignificant problem. Maybe I have uncommon usage.
Netflix is brain-dead easy to use. I don't always know what I want to watch so I browse and can watch anything. Movies Anywhere sounds like more work than it's worth.
"Unable to register. Please try again or contact Movies Anywhere Customer Service."
Turns out after digging through the site:
"Eligibility. Only legal residents of the United States, all U.S. territories, and the U.S. associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau (collectively, the "Territory") are eligible to register for a Movies Anywhere account, provided that the Movies Anywhere Service is subject to availability of Digital Retailers and Movies Anywhere Content in the Territory."
Another incredibly useless waste of time, just like Youtube Red.
So I just downloaded the “Movies Anywhere” app for iOS and connected my Amazon account and my iOS account. I got my five free movies — all surprisingly recent and well known to try it out. The movies showed up in my Amazon Prime library immediately and after an hour in my iTunes library as a purchase.
I also thought that the app was going to ask Me for my itunes password because in 13 years of being an iTunes user, I’ve never known Apple to let you use your iTunes credentials to authenticate with a third party platform.
Buying a digital movie is still a no go for me because the rare movie I want I could find cheaper physically. But the main complaint I had against buying a movie digitally - being tied to one service is gone as long as the movie is available on Movies Anywhere.
Even if this service does go kaput, I still have access to the movies from Apple, Amazon, and Google.