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Walmart in US offers format shifting service
Friday 16 March 2012 11:21:08 by Andrew Ferguson

The US for some years has had a different approach to format shifting, in that for consumers they have a right to fair use, and format shifting was allowed. In the UK it is still to be made legal, though obviously ripping a DVD or Blu-ray and then uploading it to a file-sharing network would still infringe copyright.

Walmart through its 3,500 stores across America is bringing format shifting to the masses, with people able to obtain a digital copy of DVDs and Blu-ray discs that they own for $2, and where you only own a DVD copy, you can upgrade to a 1080p version for $5. The consumer gets to retain the physical media, and the ripping does not occur in store, paying for the rip simply buys you access to a stream from the VUDU service.

The content appears to be at a reasonable quality level with SD running at 1 Mbps, and HDX (1080p) running at around 4.5 Mbps. Currently a range of devices are supported including, PC, Mac, PS3, XBox 360, Blu-ray players, Internet enabled TVs and the iPad, it is thought that an Android app is in development.

While the service still uses DRM, it shows a possible way forward for the UK. Ripping using the many DVD and Blu-ray rip utilities on the market may prove cheaper, but the time taken and hassle factor will put many off. As part of the puzzle to help reduce copyright infringement, and increase income for the movie studios, but still offer a reasonable price to the consumer this new Walmart service will be interesting to watch.

With Asda owned by Walmart in the UK, and Netflix growing its presence in the UK, with a sole main competitor in the form of Lovefilm, it is just possible we may see more options for the UK consumer over the next 12 months.


Posted by opticalgirl over 5 years ago
I find this a little strange - they charge you $2 to view something that you already own and can watch for free at home.

I can see a possible benefit of being able to take your entire video collection away with you, but this relies on access to good connectivity. Unfortunately, I tend to find that connectivity is either very bad or very expensive when travelling. And why pay a fee for each item in your collection, when you're only going to pick and watch one film at a time?

What am I missing?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
Missing - the rise of computing devices that do not have optical drives in them.

$2 for a 1080p copy of a blu-ray without the hassle of ripping will appeal to many.
Posted by opticalgirl over 5 years ago
Yes, but if i want to watch a film at home, I have a choice of five devices that DO have an optical drive. The devices that don't have very small screens, and wouldn't be the one's that I'd choose to watch videos on.
Posted by otester over 5 years ago
As usual, torrent/usenet is still king of the hill, no hassle of drm/going to a store and the rip is higher quality (4.5Mbps is low for 1080p).
Posted by Firefalcon over 5 years ago
All will go well until the movie studios either a)get bored of it or b)want more money and as a result the price will rise and noone will bother any more if they bother at all. Then what will happen is the movie studios will come out throwing another tantrum saying wahhh piracy and try push another set of crook lawsuits/lobbying/bullying/extortion/etc through
Posted by davolente over 5 years ago
Oh great. Pay and pay over and over again for content you already own. Oh, don't actually own it, just a licence to watch it, which, of course, can be varied at will by BIG ENTERTAINMENT to screw even more money out of you
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