EzyFlix has announced that it’s launching Disc-2-Digital, a service that allows existing DVD and Blu-ray owners to store cloud-based copies of their films and create digital copies of… their digital copies.
EzyFlix has launched its Disc-2-Digital service, which in a nutshell allows users to access a digital copy of their already owned DVD and Blu-ray titles. In doing so, as per EzyFlix CEO Craig White, EzyFlix has become only the third company in the world to offer the service, and the first outside the United States.
Now, why would you want an extra digital copy? Largely because while it’s become more common for titles to be offered in tablet or phone-friendly formats as “digital extras”, it’s far from ubiquitous, especially for older films.
EzyFlix claims to have a library of 1,000 films available for “conversion” at launch, with plans to double that in the coming months. Any films “converted” this way also become available via the UltraViolet service.
From a legal standpoint it’s an interesting one, because while Australian copyright law currently allows you to create a digital copy of a VHS tape (remember those?), the same law doesn’t apply to any digital format — and DVD and Blu-ray are both digital formats.
The technical reality is that it’s trivially easy to rip a DVD or Blu-ray title, but it’s most certainly not legal to do so. This bypasses that, with the copyright holder’s blessing because (and here’s the catch) the “ripping” (it’s not ripping) carries a fee along with it. It’s $2 for an SD DVD movie, or $5 for HD.
There’s an obvious advantage there I guess, if you own a DVD for which an HD version has later become available, because $5 is generally less than you’ll pay for the Blu-ray. If you already own the Blu-ray it’s a slightly leaner $2.
Chatting to EzyFlix CEO Craig White, the picture becomes clearer. When you add a DVD or Blu-ray title to the Disc 2 Digital service, you verify that it’s a local disc — White told Fat Duck Tech that it “must be an Australian pressed copy” and then add it as a unique copy to an EzyFlix account. Playback can be streaming (because they’re all Ultraviolet titles) or as a download to the EzyFlix app, which acts as the player and the DRM check on iOS, Android, Windows and Mac platforms.
DRM is always a contentious issue, and what happens in the Disc 2 Digital case is, according to White, that you’ve got “an option to download it on up to 5 different devices at any one time. Those devices are then authorised to play back that fully downloaded file.”
The DRM doesn’t quite end there, because as is common with many studio-backed DRM schemes, there’s also a phone-home style DRM check, which White says takes place “every seven days. We’re working to increase that limit over time.”
So what you’re getting isn’t quite a ripped DVD or Blu-ray. There’s no extras, language options or subtitles for a start. “At this point in time it is only the movie file itself.” says White. “This isn’t about replacing your disc. If you’ve had value added features, you still continue to enjoy that, but no, those elements aren’t part of the digital copy offer.”
I’ll be interested to see how well this does, because while it’s a relatively modest sum of money, you’re not really “ripping” the title per se; you’re really just paying an access fee for movies you already own.