By now, you’ve heard about the UltraViolet Alliance, which is not a group of superheroes defending America from space vampires, but rather a consortium of unimaginably gigantic media companies.
I got a fax three days ago that claimed to be an early draft of the UltraViolet press release. When contacted, the UltraViolet Alliance denied the draft’s existence, and in fact pointed out that I was just pretending to call them in the first place.
Nonetheless, I think it’s important for you, the reader, to decide for yourself that I’m right. Here is the supposed UltraViolet Alliance press release, reproduced in full:
SECOND DRAFT — TOP SECRET YOUR EYES ONLY!!!
I am proud to announce the debut of UltraViolet, a service designed to make buying a movie from a legitimate source almost as convenient as pirating it.
As you know, we’ve been keeping an eye on BitTorrent and other sources for illegal downloading of copyrighted movies. We know that millions of unscrupulous people are downloading free copies of our movies and playing them on all their devices, with no limitations on where, when or how they watch them. And we recognize that our paying customers deserve something almost, but not quite, as good.
Now, we know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “That’s insanity! If you sell a customer a movie without strict, even draconian, limitations, they’ll immediately go back in time and put it on the internet before it was even released. The only way to prevent piracy is to punish legitimate customers after it already happened!”
That’s sound thinking, but after about 10 years of careful thought and dwindling income, we’ve finally seen that it may not be completely airtight, logic-wise.
We’ve discovered that, contrary to our expectations, customers enjoy treating their purchased movies like an item they actually own that belongs to them, as if movies were just some petty knick-knack like a home or a car. They don’t understand that flawless cinema like Green Lantern is much too valuable to put in the hands of people who paid for it.
We had hoped people would get used to the idea that they’re merely licensing the movie, not actually buying a copy (except if they lose or damage the disc, in which case — tough luck, kid). But the market has spoken, and our customers have made it clear that they want nearly all the convenience and freedom they’d have if they’d just asked some junior high student to grab them a copy off IRC.
UltraViolet will make purchasing a movie only slightly more of a pain in the ass than searching BitTorrent.
So we’re responding. UltraViolet will make purchasing a movie only slightly more of a pain in the ass than searching BitTorrent. Driving to a local video store and buying a copy on DVD or Blu-ray should only take about a half-hour more than downloading it, and I want to assure you that the legitimate copy will contain all the ads, auto-loading trailers and overproduced menu screens that even the pirates can’t figure out how to include.
Once you’ve bought it, all you’ll have to do is take the time to register it and give us whatever information we decide we need. We know pirates don’t have to do that, but we think you’ll find it fun. It’s sort of like Facebook, only instead of friends and family, you have a humongous powerful group of international corporations hanging on your every datum.
Once you’ve signed in, that’s when the fun begins. You see, the movies you paid for with your own money will be stored for you in your “locker.” Just like the lockers you use at school or the gym, they’ll be convenient, somewhat secure, they won’t actually belong to you and we can do anything we want with anything in them.
Let the pirates have their boring old “hard drives” and “networked media servers.” With UltraViolet, you’ve got a locker!
Once we have your movie (which, I’m obliged to remind you, is not actually your movie) locked up, you can access it on any of several devices, at any time that our service is running properly, with no limitations other than the ones in the EULA you agreed to without reading. It’s so much like piracy, you’ll be tempted to wear an eye patch!
So enjoy your newfound semi-freedom. If it works out, in time we might be inclined to treat you even less like a suspected pirate, and more like an actual pirate.
But if not, well, let’s just say we know where your movies live.
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Born helpless, naked and unable to provide for himself, Lore Sjöberg overcame these obstacles to become a member of a consortium, a conservancy and a conversation.