Amazon Wades into Rights Locker Territory for Video

If you buy a Kindle e-book from Amazon.com, you can also read it through the Kindle iPhone app and in various other ways.  Amazon keeps track of what e-books you purchased and even what page you’re on in each one, so that you can switch from one device to another and pick up your reading from where you left off.  This multi-device approach is known as a “rights locker.”

Now Amazon is taking steps to move its video capabilities towards a rights locker model.  Last week, Amazon announced Disc+ On Demand, a program in which buyers of DVDs and Blu-ray discs also get an Amazon Video On Demand play of the same content.  Given that Amazon Video On Demand encompasses streaming (to PCs, Macs, and other devices through hardware adapters) as well as downloads to PCs and TiVo devices, this is beginning to look quite a bit like a rights locker model – though it’s limited to certain discs for which Amazon has secured the rights, and Amazon is positioning it as a limited-time promotion.

Meanwhile, Hollywood is trying to standardize on a more generalized rights locker approach through the DECE (Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem) consortium, as well as Disney’s recently-announced KeyChest, a streaming-only initiative.

It could take years for DECE to be ready, but the approach promises to span many more devices and delivery modalities than what Amazon is offering now.   It’s just possible that Amazon could beat DECE to market with a service that’s sufficiently compelling to users to render DECE irrelevant.  It looks like Amazon has the infrastructure for both rights and content delivery to pull it off.

Whether Amazon can secure enough rights from content owners is another question.  The same question applies to DECE… but then Hollywood, for the most part, controls DECE.  Ironically, Amazon’s Disc+ On Demand has given DECE another selling point: use our infrastructure to help us create an ecosystem that can successfully compete with the Amazon juggernaut.

As I have said before, this should sound like deja vu to those who have been following Apple and the music industry.

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