Commentary

Wavelength tried but Hollywood stopped them

By Gregory Schultz on May. 11, 2015 / 1:40 PM CDT (13:40 GMT)
Flickr / Alan Daly

Wavelength had an interesting idea: let users share the ultraviolet movies they own with their friends and vice versa. It meets Hollywood’s demands: DRM-protected movies and the movies are legal owned by the users. Wavelength was seen as a easy way to watch Ultraviolet movies, especially since it has a track record of hair-pulling frustration. Hollywood – rightfully – freaked out and forced Wavelength to change its’ business models.

If you read between the lines, Hollywood was accepting of the idea but fearful of their business model getting blown up.

Wavelength started as a way to legally share your movies with your followers and watch movies your followers own as well. From the blog post launching the beta:

Wavelength is the world’s first social movie service that enables people to legally share their digital film collection – including new release Hollywood blockbusters in the home entertainment window. In other words, you can watch your friends’ movies and they can watch yours! Users can also socialize around films through ratings and comments and our goal is to create a vibrant community for movie fans.

Wavelength’s legal loophole was centered around a feature in Ultraviolet that allowed a movie to be shared with multiple users. The company also stressed that movie being share are legally purchased, so that the company won’t be sued for billions of dollars.

But Hollywood still came knocking.

In a blog post, the company announced it’s shutting down is movie-sharing feature and will continue to operate as a social movie site.

Here’s the status update. We’ve removed the movie sharing feature from wavelength.io because we’ve reached an impasse with the other parties in the UltraViolet ecosystem. At the end of the day, what was being asked of us entailed too many compromises to the user experience that we are not prepared to make. That said, we believe in abiding by the rules of the system (even if they keep changing), as our goal has always been to create value for both consumers and content creators.

If you read between the lines, it sounds like Hollywood wanted this to succeed. What will be interesting is what were the concessions were each side asking. However, the last line is telling: “even if the rules of the system keep changing”. That should tell us that Hollywood was fearful that this would blow up their monetary ecosystem like Napster and Apple did to the music industry and Craiglists did to the newspaper industry.

Even though Wavelengths will probably shutter its’ door soon, it should be noted that Hollywood has changed its’ tactics. Instead of sending a wrath of lawyers to sue you into a black hole, Hollywood sent business executives instead.

It’s still the same Hollywood of killing anything that might jeopardize its’ business models, just a friendlier version.

Gregory Schultz / Founder, lead blogger
Founder and Senior editor since 2005 when it was called Control-alt-delete. He also podcasts at controldaily.com, streams on Twitch and is a WordPress developer. He enjoys cycling, video games and life when he's not in-front of a computer.