Last year, Walmart announced an ambitious program aimed at getting people to convert the movies they’ve already bought in DVD or Blu-ray format to digital copies that they could stream or download from their UltraViolet digital rights locker. The disc-to-digital program was a way for the movie studios — and Walmart — to help convert users who watched physical discs to start taking advantage of streaming options and digital storefronts instead.
But there was one big problem: It involved going through the hassle of taking your discs to Walmart, getting them scanned and entered into a database. For those who didn’t want to drive to the nearest big-box store, or who didn’t want to sit around and wait for their movies to be added to their locker, the disc-to-digital program was a bust.
So the company is making it easier for users to convert their existing movies to digital, with the launch of a desktop app that will let them scan their discs at home. The VUDU To Go app, which will be available from the company’s website soon, will work on Macs and PCs, and will require users to enter a physical disc into their drive to show that they own it.
While the ability to covert physical to digital from the comfort of one’s home may seem like an awesome idea, there are some limitations. For instance, the conversion will only work for movies from certain studios. While it’s got most of the big ones on board, including DreamWorks Animation, Lionsgate, MGM, Paramount, Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Studios, and Warner Bros., Disney is noticeably absent.
Also, there’s a fee involved. It costs $2 to convert DVDs to digital and $5 to convert Blu-rays and make them available through various UltraViolet services.
But once all that’s done, there’s the promise of being able to own your movie forevermore without ever having to buy it again. In the same way that owning digital music means we no longer need to purchase a new format of the White Album every time some newfangled device comes along, movie owners and collectors should (theoretically) be able to store their digital copies and access them through UltraViolet whenever.
That’s a future that would be awesome if it worked for everyone. We’re getting there, but you know, the future can’t come soon enough.