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Disney Close To Unveiling New "DVD Killer" 498

Uncle Rummy writes "The Wall Street Journal reports that Disney is close to releasing a new system that will sell permanent, multi-device access to digital media. The system, dubbed Keychest, is being positioned as an answer to consumer concerns about purchasing digital media that are locked to a small number of devices, and thus as a way to finally shift media sales from an ownership model to an access model. They claim that such a service would reduce the risk of losing access to content as a result of a single vendor going out of business, as purchased content would remain available from other vendors. However, they do not seem to have addressed the question of what happens to customers' access to purchased content if the Keychest service itself is discontinued."
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Disney Close To Unveiling New "DVD Killer"

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  • by oldspewey ( 1303305 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @03:42PM (#29827547)
    I mean, does the solution here have to be complicated?
  • by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @03:44PM (#29827569) Homepage Journal

    MPAA sues Disney over new "DVD Killer"

  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @03:48PM (#29827631) Homepage
    They continue to try and convince the world that THEIR problem is actually the world's problem. No. People LIKE owning. We don't like 'accessing'. If I want to own a movie, I pay the cost to watch it no more than 3 times. If I want to 'access' a movie with a huge screen and fantastic sound, then I go to a theater and pay less than 1/3 that cost. If you want to charge for access instead of ownership, without the enhanced screen and audio, then you have to charge a lot less than ownership. If Disney's new system is going to be priced like ownership, no one will use it.
    • by OscarGunther ( 96736 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @03:54PM (#29827717) Journal
      I saw the WSJ article on this. The only thing it solves is the problem of storing large media files on low-capacity hardware. In all other respects, it's an industry solution in search of a consumer problem. Given a comprehensive set of easily-followed instructions on how to convert and load media files on different platforms (PCs, phones, etc.), this "solution" solves nothing for me. If I'm sufficiently technically savvy to convert a movie so it will play on my iPod, why do I need this?
    • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @04:03PM (#29827835) Journal

      I don't particularly like owning films. I own quite a lot, but I haven't bought many in the last few years (and those only from charity shops when the DVDs were really cheap). They take up a lot of space, and I don't watch them very often. I rent a lot more. There are few films I want to watch more than once, or maybe twice, and, given the choice, I would much rather watch a new film than one I've seen before.

      And that is Disney's real problem. The thing that they have of value is the ability to produce new films. They need to stop fixating on trying to sell copies of their films and focus on how to persuade people to pay them to make new films. That is the kind of innovation the industry needs, not new forms of DRM.

      • by Cro Magnon ( 467622 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @04:24PM (#29828155) Homepage Journal

        And that is Disney's real problem. The thing that they have of value is the ability to produce new films. They need to stop fixating on trying to sell copies of their films and focus on how to persuade people to pay them to make new films. That is the kind of innovation the industry needs, not new forms of DRM.

        DOES Disney create new films? I thought they just recyled stuff that was already out there, tweaked it a bit, then released it as "Disney's 666th film". The last truly original thing they did involved a cute, but very elderly by now, mouse, and a duck with a speech problem.

      • by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @04:31PM (#29828289)

        The thing that they have of value is the ability to produce new films

        I have to disagree. The one thing that Disney can do like no one else, and which is therefore their primary value, is merchandising the crap out of existing content. When was the last time you saw a good Disney movie (Pixar doesn't count)? When was the last time you saw Disney produce original content that even its current target audience won't cringe at in a few years?

        For crying out loud, they're releasing a double-feature of Toy Story 1 and 2 in 3D now! Creatively, Disney is dead. Their saving grace in that department is Pixar. And Disney knows that - which is exactly why they're focusing so much on merchandise, 3D, theme parks, copyright protection, and now this scheme. They know they can't create new content. That's why they're coming up with a million ideas on how to sell you old stuff again. And again. And again.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Bolt was good. Don't forget that Disney also owns Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, and Miramax Films. They also own ABC (and so Disney is "responsible" for Lost and other good shows). The Narnia films were great. The first Pirates movie was good. Disney is making a lot of good movies (they also put out a lot of not good movies).
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          When was the last time you saw a good Disney movie (Pixar doesn't count)?

          I'm guessing what you actually mean is what was the last good Disney traditional animation film, in which case you'd have to go back to the first half of the decade, before Eisner dissolved their cel-animation studios.
          Now that they've restarted their efforts things seem promising, and the upcoming animations "the princess and the frog" and "rapunzel" are highly anticipated, with names like Ron Clements, John Musker or Alan Menken who were crucial to some of their successes in the 90s.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PitaBred ( 632671 )
        You don't have kids, do you? Disney has a TON of value in their old films. Kids will watch the same movie hundreds of times, until they can quote and follow every single line. And then they'll watch it again. Hell, my wife still has Aladdin pretty much memorized. They want these laws because they realize that they can rake in the cash and not have to do any work other than bitching to Congress about the evil citizens wanting copyright to not be forfuckingever and a day, and copying things like they're part
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
      Nonsense! Just look what a roaring success [] Circuit City had with this "They don't really want to own it" model.
    • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @04:14PM (#29827991) Homepage

      See personally, I disagree. Part of my problem with current online digital media is that they're focusing on "owning" rather than "accessing". Take iTunes, for example. I can "buy" a season of a particular show, but I can't just pay to watch it once. Not only does "buying" theoretically increase the price to watch a show once that I'll probably only want to watch once, but it also puts me on the hook to store and maintain a copy. Sure, I can throw it away if I really only want to watch it once, but then I've payed "buying" price for a "rental".

      Personally, I wouldn't mind paying for most TV shows and movies per-viewing, so long as it was cheap and I had the option to buy. Further, what I'd really like to do is buy free access to downloads in perpetuity, regardless of new/improved formats. What I mean is, I might actually be convinced to spend $20 on a movie on iTunes if I knew that I could re-download it whenever I wanted (if the original file was lost or deleted), and that if they release it in 1080p in a couple of years I could download that copy, too. And then if they released it in whatever replaced 1080p, I could get that free too. That would be my preference as a consumer, that they quit trying to force me to re-buy the same movie over and over again.

      Still, I would agree that they're really trying to solve their own problem instead of the consumer's problem. The "consumer concerns about purchasing digital media that are locked to a small number of devices" is entirely caused by two things: selling less-than-ideal quality versions so they can sell you better versions later, and locking users in with DRM. I know everyone knows what I'm talking about with DRM, but movie studios are selling DVD quality movies on iTunes even after the Bluray has been released. Hell, there are even cases where they'll let you rent the 720p version (meaning it's on Apple's server) but will only let you buy the DVD-quality. And that's only 720p. Why should I spend $20 on a 720p version when I know a 1080p version exists and there's no predefined upgrade path.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Cheapy ( 809643 )

      Unfortunately...that's not quite true. Steam, and especially Valve's games, have done quite well, despite the customer not owning the game.

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @04:46PM (#29828475) Homepage

      Yet every disney DVD ad on tv states.... "OWN IT TODAY"

      If they hate the ownership idea, then why do they push it with their false advertising?

  • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @03:49PM (#29827645)
    So, "any device" means anything running a supported OS with supported software and access to their cloud.

    Which means any device other then something I would want to use to watch a movie while on an airplane. More or less the same problem I have with current "digital copy included!" DVDs on the market. They don't actually work with anything I want to use.
  • by BryanL ( 93656 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [fbrehtwol]> on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @03:50PM (#29827653)

    This coming from a company that puts movies in the vault for a decade to increase demand. How do they reconcile the two philosophies? Maybe it's a case of the right hand not knowing what the left is doing, but the cynical side of me thinks they are counting on new file formats (.avi->.dis) being introduced in the future that will not be compatible with Keychest. In any case, Disney thinking in the best interest of the customer does not seem to be what is happening here.

  • by JSBiff ( 87824 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @03:50PM (#29827659) Journal

    This sounds pretty much exactly like Valve's Steam service, extended to other forms of entertainment. Seems like a lot of people have little problem with Steam, so not sure why they'd have a problem with Keychest? I guess one concern I could come up with is that, I suspect Valve is a *lot* more committed to Steam, than Disney might be to Keychest. While Disney themselves is probably at little risk of going out of business any time soon, I wouldn't be overly surprised if Disney tried this, then a year or two later decided to pull the plug and try something else, when the service doesn't instantly make them hundreds of millions of dollars.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dunkz ( 901542 )

      Only when I buy a game on steam I won't want to play it through my home theater, or on my iPhone, or in the car.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Not quite. Video games come in very few forms, where audio and video come in very many. Steam limits you to the one type of digital output for video games that they use, meaning PC games. I can't however download it in any other format than they provide (not that keychest would be different on that front) - but basically I can't download the ISO image for the CD for the game, nor can I download the 360 version of Half Life 2 from Steam.

      What disney seems to be doing is saying:
      Hey, You like the Lion King? (I

  • Watermark (Score:5, Informative)

    by iamacat ( 583406 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @03:51PM (#29827685)

    Watermarked content can be played on unlimited number of devices, but can not be posted to thepiratebay. Pirates can attempt conversion, but by the time you are sure you stripped all possible watermarking techniques, the video is so blurry people will buy a legit version anyway. This currently works for Apple/Amazon audio with zero issues. It's too sad that Disney wants both legal and technical special treatment to keep protecting Mickey Mouse.

    • by aepervius ( 535155 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @04:18PM (#29828047)
      Buy 2 or 3 from different retailer under different name and a different CC. Then look at WHERE the difference are. It does not matter if you udnerstand what the data is (encrypted) or not, all you need is to remove or garble it. And they can't have a very big watermark in *All* frame changing msot of the frame, can't they ? For that reason, I doubt watermark can ever work on a digital content which is not DRM protected.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by BitZtream ( 692029 )

        So ... when the entire file is different, on every copy ... what do you do then? Why do I ask? Because thats how it works. Its not that there are a few bytes changed here and there, the whole file is slightly modified, not a few bytes here and there.

        Watermarking and cryptography is slightly more advanced than you realize I think.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by selven ( 1556643 )

        1) Take two different versions from two different retailers (or the same retailer, if the watermarks are personalized, making uploads traceable)

        2) Check the RGB values of every pixel of every frame (you can write a program to do this)

        3) For areas where the values differ, insert a random number between the two values.

        4) Watermarks are destroyed beyond recognition, even watermarks which make subtle changes to the entire screen

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PayPaI ( 733999 )

      Watermarked content (...) Amazon audio

      I'm gonna need some more information here.
      According to this: []

      Since Amazon itself does not apply the watermarks, and labels presumably supply only one MP3 copy of any given song, there’s no way for a label to directly identify and sue an individual if, say, someone were to steal that person’s iPod and share its songs all over the internets

      You privy to any more information than that?

  • wrong again (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @03:55PM (#29827723)

    Shifting media sales from an ownership model to an access model is the major "customer concern" with DRM. All other "customer concerns" are really just derivatives of this one.

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @04:01PM (#29827811) Homepage

    ...the Holy Grail of the "content" industry.

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @04:06PM (#29827871) Homepage
    assume this wont work.

    1. you were never meant to keep these 'treasured classics' forever like a book. this hurts the business model and prevents releasing such wonderous hits as Cinderella 4.

    2. if it isnt open source, it wont be worth a damn. Proprietary encoders and decoders once obsoleted are nearly impossible to reconstruct or reverse-engineer for playback without finding yourself hauled into a Texas courtroom for patent infringement. the 'final solution' they tout will likely involve nothing but closed source players interwoven so closely, you'll forget to question it being a bad idea in light of historical defiance between them.

    3. If its a DVD killer, and you own a majority of DVDs, why would you buy it? youve obsoleted the very thing you seek to keep indefinitely?

    my theory is there will be a transition. first we had purchasing movies, now we have licensing movies to DVD, and finally we will have with Disneys 'killer' the ability to license limited viewing rights. the content may remain available in a unary format forever, but a recurring cost is introduced and you lose in the end the ability to watch a movie without being monitored for content infringement of "intellectual property" rights. inevitably movies may be retired from the collection, rerendered to lower or higher formats at disneys whim, or require suddenly a new television or provide new advertising content not originally found in the obsolete version you saught to keep. "authoring rights" will be expanded and more buttons on your remote will do less things when you want them to (example: skipping 'dont download a car' scaremercials.)

    there is also another possibility entirely: Disney develops this device to lure customers into parting with books and DVD classics, then retires the device in ~8 years to ditch the poor suckers who believed in it as a viable alternative thus driving up sales in existing media for the time as a sort of 'umbrella' in case of stormy economic conditions. user ditches device, goes to walmart, buys latest instalment of Cincerella 5 and another copy of Cinderella 4 because that one is dead now, disney cash registers ring.
  • by thesupraman ( 179040 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @04:08PM (#29827895)

    You know, that annoying little detail in the copyright law that states once the copyright lapses the content becomes public property?
    The price we are supposed to get for our taxes paying for the protection of their rights?

    Oh, they didnt think of that? Their intention is for us to never own the content? Hmm.....

    Although the DMCA has tried to remove that 'right' already, of course through making it illegal to be able to remove such protection.

  • Printing Press (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ( 745855 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @04:08PM (#29827897) Homepage

    It seems to me that media companies see DRM as a printing press on which they can print their own cash.

    And seem sore when they find out no one but them seems to value their funny money.

    If they really want us to see value in it, they need to back it up with a gold standard... put copies of the movie in some DRM-free format in escrow.

    Your technology goes away; we get DRM-free version of the movies we purchased.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @04:11PM (#29827949) Homepage

    If you bought into any of these, you're a sucker. They don't work any more.

    • Divx (1998-2001). [] "Disposable" DVDs tied to a remote authorization system. Promoted by Circuit City and Thompson. Content now unplayable.
    • WalMart Music (2007-2008) [] Downloadable music tied to an authorization server. Content now unplayable.
    • PlaysForSure (2004-2008) [] Microsoft system. Downloadable music tied to an authorization server. Content from AOL MusicNow (closed), Musicmatch Jukebox (closed), Yahoo! Music Unlimited (closed), Spiralfrog (closed), MTV URGE (closed), MSN Music (closed), Musicmatch Jukebox (closed), Ruckus Network (closed) now generally unplayable, although exit strategies exist. Authorization servers were to be shut down August 31, 2008, but were kept up after that date.

    Next, Disney.

  • There's a typo... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thestudio_bob ( 894258 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @04:17PM (#29828033)

    The system, dubbed Keychest, is being positioned as an answer to consumer concerns about purchasing digital media that are locked to a small number of devices...

    The system, dubbed Keychest, is being positioned to lock our customers into a DRM system, so that we can squeeze every penny out of them...

    There, fixed that for you Disney.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @04:25PM (#29828161)

    Seriously, this consumer is not interested in buying into a system that relies on the continued external support of the access controls. I'm sure their glib answer is "Disney is huge, and won't go out of business" - but Walmart is even bigger, and they still made the decision to terminate support for their DRMed music store.

  • by AlgorithMan ( 937244 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @04:25PM (#29828169) Homepage

    they do not seem to have addressed the question of what happens to customers' access to purchased content if the Keychest service itself is discontinued

    SHUT UP! The user is not supposed to think about that until they launch keychest 2!

  • Please... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @04:28PM (#29828233)
    ...let them call the tool that hacks this "Keyblade".
  • Be afraid! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ISurfTooMuch ( 1010305 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @04:32PM (#29828309)

    I don't care what the ads say. The only thing that will matter is what's in a legally-binding contract. Not a TOS that Disney will doubtless reserve the right to change, but a contract. And in case you're wondering about the possible limitations that will likely come along, let me throw out a few:

    1. Sure, you get perpetual viewing rights, but they only last for as long as the Keychest service does. Anyone who bought DRM'ed music from MSN or Yahoo got a taste of what could happen if the DRM servers are taken down. And, as someone else already pointed out, there's nothing to stop Disney from pulling the plug if profits aren't to their liking. Does that mean you'll lose access to all the stuff you bought? Yes, but here's a book of discount coupons so you can save a few bucks on all the DVDs you're going to have to buy to rebuild your movie collection.

    2. Would you like to sell that movie you've grown tired of? Not with Keychest, you can't. Suddenly, used DVD sales go away, which is something the studios have wished for for quite a long time. See, wishes can come true!

    3. It's a fact that studios love trailers and commercials. Actually, trailers ARE commercials, and a service like Keychest allows the ads to get changed out at any time, and I'd be willing to bet that you won't be able to skip them. Are there no ads before that movie you just bought? Maybe not now, but they could appear any time down the road.

    The thing is, Keychest is meant to solve the studios' problems, not mine. I have no problem with the ownership model, thank you very much. I also have no problem with playing the movies on my shelf in any device I want. If I want to load them onto a laptop, I'll either burn a copy to a blank disc (so the DVD can stay safely at home) or rip it and load it on the hard drive. Does that violate the DMCA? Maybe, but it solves my problem very nicely, it doesn't distribute the movie to anyone who hasn't paid for it, and I don't need a crippled service like Keychest to accomplish it, so I'm just fine with it.

    I don't care if Disney sees this as a DVD killer. They may want to kill the DVD, but I don't, so they can go pound sand for all I care.

  • by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @04:54PM (#29828599) Homepage Journal

    "However, they do not seem to have addressed the question of what happens to customers' access to purchased content if the Keychest service itself is discontinued."

    Oh that's easy. The consumer can just purchase it again through any number of convenient venues. :)

  • by petrus4 ( 213815 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @05:10PM (#29828761) Homepage Journal

    Truthfully, most of the corporations within the "content," industry need to be.

    They wreck and subvert the legal system in order to support their own greed, and they avoid any form of real creativity in the material they produce, as much as possible. They are staffed by the usual evil, soulless bean counters who don't want anything other than generic, white box assembly line product year after year, purely in order to make consistent profits.

    They only profit from human stupidity, and the fact that those of us who care about how badly they treat everyone else, are the minority. If the majority didn't insist on being so unrelentlessly brainless and avoidant of personal responsibility, we might be able to generate support for these companies simply being rendered insolvent.

    Unfortunately, however, the mainstream sheep just keep standing there, mindlessly, sleepily chewing their cud, waiting for the slaughter.

  • by pandrijeczko ( 588093 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @05:17PM (#29828845)

    ...a company that was renowned for giving us stuff to watch is now going to start telling us how we can watch it?

  • Free The DVD (Score:3, Informative)

    by JackSpratts ( 660957 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @05:41PM (#29829165) Homepage

    the simplest solution to this self identified dvd portability "problem" is to stop preventing consumers from ripping their purchased films to hard drives. once that occurs they can stream movies either in house or globally via the net, to all or any device they prefer. take my run of the mill my $65 1TB hard drive. it holds nearly 250 single-layer films as uncompressed isos. that's over 300% more movies than the average american household owns now. next year that 65 bucks will buy me two gigs and storage for almost 500 films, or nearly 3000 with the proper compression. i live in conn but sometimes watch my movies in mass either by net or by drive. it's simple and free of technical issues. in other words it works.

    this disney maneuver can't be as much about solving practical problems consumers have with player compatibility (legal ripping software will take care of that) as it is about solving perceptual issues consumers have towards content cartels and their draconian efforts at digitally restricting media.

    free the dvd/blu-ray. they may sell more too. or not, but the problem vanishes.

    - js.

  • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @06:42PM (#29829781) Journal

    Oh c'mon, it's not about online movies. This is yet another try at switching users from purchase to long-term rental, in the face of clear evidence that consumers do not want this. Disney clearly hasn't learned anything from DIVX and the 48 hour self-destructing DVD. They seem to think that all they need to do is find the right technology and the right marketing technique, and they can continue to depends on rebuys for a significant part of their revenue stream, despite that business model being dead since the VHS days.

    When I purchase a movie, I don't want the content to be out in "the cloud", depending on services that will inevitably go TU some day, or depend on "phoning home" for permission to play the media I have purchased. I want a physical, non-encumbered archival copy, else it's just a high priced rental, competing unsuccessfully against dirt-cheap rentals like Netflix.

  • Trust Disney? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @06:44PM (#29829799) Homepage Journal

    Umm no thanks.

  • Bandwidth (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @06:46PM (#29829817) Homepage Journal

    Don't forget too, with all this push to 'online distribution', is that the big providers are now starting to limit bandwidth usage since we all got used to trying to use what we were sold. Making this even less appealing.

  • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @07:01PM (#29829959) Journal

    Instead of going to such lengths to protect 80-year-old films, why don't they put that effort into producing some decent new titles?

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle