Amazon to launch auto rip, an effort to sex up CDs

Update January 10 at 6:10 a.m. PT: Amazon has now introduced its AutoRip service.)

LAS VEGAS -- The compact disc has long been left for dead by most tech-savvy music fans, but Amazon apparently still sees some life left in the format.

Amazon managers are expected to announce soon that CD buyers from now on will automatically receive copies of the same tracks stored in their Amazon cloud, free of charge, multiple sources with knowledge of the plan told CNET. The cloud-stored tunes can then be accessed from Web-enabled devices.

The feature is being referred to internally as &… Read more

Walmart will convert your discs to digital from your home

Walmart will soon be able to convert your DVD movies to online digital content right from your own PC.

The company's Disc-to-Digital service already handles that type of conversion. But the current process requires you to hop over to your local Walmart store to get your DVD converted.

Starting sometime this month, the expanded service will handle the whole conversion with you driving it from your PC. Using its Vudu video streaming service, Walmart will convert your DVD and Blu-ray movies and TV shows into UltraViolet digital copies. Those copies are then stored in your own online libraries where … Read more

BestBuy will now convert your discs to digital files from your PC

People who want to convert their physical DVDs to an online digital format can now do so via Best Buy, and without leaving home.

Now available as a beta program, Best Buy's CinemaNow service promises to convert your discs into an UltraViolet format that you can store and watch online. UltraViolet is a system that lets you house your movies and TV shows in the cloud and then access them from an Internet-enabled device.

To use Best Buy's CinemaNow service, you have to create an account and then download the CinemaNow Player for your PC or Mac. Choosing … Read more

Hollywood tries again to shine light on UltraViolet

Ultraviolet light is invisible to humans -- and similarly, it's been hard to spot the movie-locker system named UltraViolet (UV).

UV is a set of standards and specifications created by a consortium of Hollywood film studios, software and hardware companies and Web retailers. The technology is designed to create an ecosystem that enables consumers to store their films in the cloud and then access the titles with any one of scores of different UV-compatible Web-connected devices.

With DVD sales ailing, UV is supposed to entice consumers to start buying movies again. Only problem is, consumers haven't shown much … Read more

UltraViolet: DRM by any other name still stinks

Wal-Mart this week ushered in a high-profile outing of Hollywood's UltraViolet scheme for digital streaming of movies and TV. And it's the same old song it ever was: complicated, restrictive DRM with a big side helping of "pay me again."

In theory, UltraViolet gives you an easier--or at least, legal--way to digitally stream your movies to multiple devices. The UV standard, developed by the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, offers dizzying promises of an easy-to-access digital library, "total freedom" to view your UV-enabled movies on any device, and future-proof DVD buying where every disc includes … Read more

Wal-Mart unveils disc-to-digital service powered by Vudu

Wal-Mart Stores debuted a service today that executives say will encourage DVD ownership while also giving consumers ubiquitous access to their film libraries via the cloud.

The megaretailer announced that customers can bring their DVDs into their local Wal-Mart, and pay $2 to get access to each title via Walmart.com's cloud service, powered by the UltraViolet platform. The $2 only supplies a user with access to a copy in standard definition; a high-definition copy will cost $5.

Dan Rayburn, an analyst who has covered streaming media for more than a decade, broke the news about Wal-Mart's announcement … Read more

Wal-Mart will stream your own DVDs back to you--for a fee

Wal-Mart, the country's largest retailer, is expected to announce today that it has adopted the UltraViolet cloud video platform.

Dan Rayburn, an analyst for research firm Frost & Sullivan, is reporting that Wal-Mart plans to charge between $2 and $4 to customers who want cloud access to the movies they've purchased on DVD. Customers would be required to cart their discs into Wal-Mart brick-and-mortar locations, said Rayburn, citing discussions with studio executives. Wal-Mart's cloud would be UV compatible.

The cloud is the term used to describe the process of storing digital information on a third party's … Read more

Netflix naysayers are many but subscription model looks sturdy

The Netflix bears are salivating.

When the video-rental company reports earnings later today, Netflix's financial performance is expected to show sluggishness due to higher costs of streaming content and an international expansion. The company's increased dependency on streaming movies over the Internet is supposed to mean slimmer margins than when the business was focused on renting DVDs.

In the immediate future, movies from Disney and Sony Pictures are supposed to disappear next month. Netflix obtained those films via a deal with Starz, the premium cable-TV service, but the contract was not renewed. This will diminish an already slim … Read more

Hollywood hasn't given up on Web rentals or Netflix

The headlines from CES about Hollywood's digital efforts are likely to make readers believe that the major film studios are fixated on selling movies instead of renting.

Readers might also have the impression that the studios' strategy on UltraViolet (UV), the plan to promote the use of digital lockers, was hurt by Netflix's decision to drop participation in UV.

Both are true to a point but much more nuanced.

I wrote this week that Netflix decided not to renew its membership in the consortium behind UV and some pundits are taking it as a sign that UV is … Read more

Amazon to distribute UltraViolet films for Warner Bros.

Amazon has become the first major retailer to agree to sell films on the UltraViolet platform and the Web's biggest store is starting with movies from Warner Bros., multiple film-industry sources told CNET.

Amazon VP Bill Carr announced during a panel discussion at CES yesterday that the retailer had struck a UV deal with a single Hollywood studio, but he declined to identify which one or provide many details about the agreement.

Carr was joined on stage by members of the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE), the consortium that founded UV. Among them were top executives from Sony, Warner … Read more