For some reason, this week, I have had quite a few people contact me on using DVD Catalyst 4 with some form of “Digital Copy” file. Either regarding a Digital Copy movie that came with a DVD or Bluray purchase, a movie purchased and downloaded through iTunes or Amazon’s video service or one that was given away when you purchased something from a popular memory-brand.
Digital Copy files are useless.
DRM “Digital Rights Management”:
The video files you purchase through websites like Amazon, or through iTunes, as well as the “Digital Copies” you get with some DVDs have a form of activation system tied to them (the DRM) which prevents you from using the file on unauthorized computers and devices. If you have a device with either an Apple or a Microsoft logo on it, these files can be used, however, the majority of tablets and phones out there do not have these logo’s. Android tablets and phones for example. For these devices, the activation system that these files require in order to play them, is not available, so the files are basically useless.
The idea behind DRM is to prevent piracy. The activation system ties the video files to you, and prevents you from sharing the movie with anyone else.
While iTunes is hugely popular for purchasing movies and TV shows, the thing that many people don’t realize is that there could be an expiration on your movies. Digital Copies that you get with some DVDs and Blurays need to be activated within a year, after which, if you have not activated them yet, they are useless.
With big companies like Apple and Microsoft running the activation servers, it is not likely that these activation servers are taken off-line anytime soon, but you never know what the economy is doing next. Who knows if they are still in business in 4 years. This has happened in the past with some online music services that sold DRM-protected music files and ended up going bankrupt, leaving the people who purchased songs through them with useless files. What if, at some point in time, they decide to come up with something new for activation, what is going to happen with the files you have with the old activation method?
Recently, 2 new services came out to provide “Digital Copy” services. Vudu and UltraViolet. While popular at this point, a lot of Apple users, used to the older Digital Copy format found out that the process of watching a Digital Copy movie was completely different. Who knows how long UltraViolet will remain in use, and then, what happens with the movies you have in your UltraViolet account.
Personally I prefer to have my movies in a physical medium, such as a DVD or Bluray. Video files with DRM on them have an expiration date. You purchase them now, but if you purchase a new computer in 2 years and would like to transfer your files over, who knows if Apple or Amazon would still let you activate your purchased movie.
Unlike books, VHS tapes, music CD’s, DVDs, Bluray’s, you can not let a friend borrow one of your movies when you are done with it, or even sell them in a yard-sale when you are done with them to get a few extra bucks, because the activation system does not let you do that.
I have a (very) large collection of DVDs (and some Blurays), and can not bare the thought that the money invested in that collection is controlled by someone else.
I have movies that I purchased when the DVD format first came out, my wife has a large VHS collection with purchased movies that date back more than 25 years, and we can still watch those movies. With Digital Copy movies, I really doubt that I would be able to re-activate a movie I purchased 25 years ago from iTunes/Amazon.