BRITISH MOVIE WATCHERS could be in for a nasty shock next month, when the Ultraviolet programme, created as a joint venture between movie studios and retailers shuts down.
Ultraviolet allowed users to claim a free digital copy of a physical DVD or BluRay they had purchased in an attempt to scupper piracy and home-ripping.
The scheme first announced it was shutting down at the end of last year, by which time several studios had already stopped issuing redemption codes in their sell-through products.
In the USA, the service has been replaced by Movies Anywhere, another joint venture that also boasts the likes of Google Play and Disney who hadn't been allied to Ultraviolet.
But in the UK, there's a problem. The only two services that Ultraviolet customers can migrate their libraries to are Flixster and Kaleidescape, the latter being only available to corporate customers such as hotels and cruise ships.
But Flixster, too, is closing in October leaving no direct migration path for UK customers. Flixster, for its part, has already confirmed that it plans to migrate purchases from Flixster, where available, to Google Play, but that won't please the majority of customers who don't currently use it.
At the moment, there's no equivalent to Movies Anywhere in the UK, so customers who migrate will find their movies tucked away in an app they don't actually use. After all - how many Apple customers use Google Movies & TV? We reckon not many.
So what can UK movie-goers actually do to save their libraries? Well, it's a bit fiddly.
First off, redeem any codes that you haven't registered to your Ultraviolet account now. After 31st July, they will be useless.
Second, link your Ultraviolet account to your Flixster account (or create one if you don't already have it). This will share your library with Flixster, which will take over the titles on 31st July.
Then, hang tight. Flixster is sending customers notification when it's time to migrate (again), after which you'll find movies that are in the Google Play Movies library have transferred there.
Not only is this process extremely fiddly, but it has had virtually no publicity. Certainly, there's nothing in the migration process from Ultraviolet that gives any suggestion that Flixster, the UK's only migration path is about to close too.
We've asked Ultraviolet for a statement but as yet, they haven't responded. We'd like to see some reassurance that customers are going to be taken better care of than this, but it acts as another reminder that your digital purchases are never truly yours and could disappear at any time.
Also in July, Microsoft closes its e-book service and customers who don't act quickly will lose their libraries. μ
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