Cloud movie locker UltraViolet is shutting down this coming Wednesday (7/31), putting an end to one of Hollywood’s more ambitious efforts to promote the ownership of digital content. Consumers have 2 more days to link their UltraViolet libraries to an existing retailer to make sure they won’t permanently lose access to their digital movies and TV shows.
Consumers who have an UltraViolet account should access the service’s website before Wednesday, and make sure their library is linked to a participating retailer. IN the U.S., these retailers include Walmart’s Vudu.com and FandangoNOW.
Ultraviolet launched in 2011 as a cloud video locker service, with the idea to offer consumers a way to archive their digital purchases, and access them across the services of participating retailers. Users could, for example, buy a digital movie on Walmart’s Vudu service, and then access it on FandangoNow.
The service had contracts with all major studios except Disney, which was developing a separate cloud locker called Disney Movies Anywhere. It also teamed up with a number of digital retailers, and even allowed consumers to upconvert their existing disc purchases for a small fee, effectively turning DVDs into downloadable digital titles.
However, without Disney, UltraViolet had a hard time to get buy-in from some of the major retailers, with iTunes, Amazon and Google Play never joining the party. What’s more, with consumers embracing streaming services like Netflix over media ownership, cloud locker services became a lot less relevant. The final nail to UltraViolet’s coffin was Disney’s relaunch of its own cloud locker as Movies Anywhere, a cross-industry cloud locker with buy in from all major studios.
UltraViolet’s closure functions as a reminder to consumers that ownership rules are different in the digital world. Case in point: The service is warning consumers that they may not be able to access all of their UltraViolet-linked content anymore because of changed licensing terms, or because their retailer of choice went out of business.
That’s exactly the kind of issues that UltraViolet was meant to mitigate by making media portable. Now, the company has some advice on how to future-proof one’s digital media library: “You may want to make sure to link your UltraViolet Library to as many retailers as possible to maximize access,” UltraViolet’s website recommends.