According to an unattributed brief in the Times last Friday (24 March) , "film fans will be able to download DVDs to own from next month". Wow. This is said to result from a deal between Universal Pictures and an online DVD rental firm called Lovefilm.
No source was given for the story, but an internet search reveals a BBC online news story giving some more details. Does not sound great. King Kong and Pride and Prejudice are given as examples of the first tranche of movies that will be available on the AOL website (aol.co.uk from 10 April). According to the BBC, "Fans will pay £19.99 for a DVD of their chosen film plus two digital copies to keep indefinitely – one for their home computer and one for a portable device." Users won’t be able to burn their own DVD copies of the films, and they are compatible only with Windows/PCs (not Macs).
So what’s the good news? 19.99 is the price of a DVD, and one can almost always get it cheaper right away, not only via Amazon but also in the shops (12.99 is typical — Pride and Prejudice is already available for that in the shops and less on Amazon — for one copy only 😉 — truly awful US ending in the extras).
Although there is lots of blather in the BBC article about a new revolution, start of a tranche of new services, etc, there isn’t much to get excited about for the average user like me. I am not interested in having several copies of a movie to watch in micro-form on some phone, I am interested in downloading a movie or TV programme/series (one copy) so I can watch it when I want to –I don’t particularly mind whether or not I can burn it onto my own DVD, and I sure don’t want to pay 19.99 for the privilege. I can’t be the only person who wants this.
The BBC also says: "Last month, another UK website, Wippit, started offering permanent downloads – but only independent movies are currently available. " (Sounds a bit like that Google service.) On a quick look, the Wippit site is only about music downloads, nothing about DVDs.