ADV Universe content has Windows DRM, only available in US

After hearing about ADV Universe on the Anime Nano Podcast, I decided to try out the service with the free AWA promo episode of Guyver. The initial paid offerings include some recent releases (Comic Party Revolution) and some old stuff (Nurse Witch Komugi). Under the “Coming Soon” category there are titles such as Utawarerumono, Diamond Daydreams and Super Milk-Chan (all dubbed).

The site asks you read the EULA twice, once when you register for an account and another time when you make a purchase. I copy-and-pasted the agreement to a text file and found some interesting things in it.

Your purchase of a Content Key through the Site provides you with a personal, non-exclusive and non-transferable license, with no right to grant sublicenses, to: (i) Receive a Download File; (ii) authorize up to three (3) personal computers to play back the associated Download File; (iii) playback the Download File on up to three (3) personal computers authorized using the Content Key; and (iv) store the Download File on the hard drive of your personal computer, solely in machine-executable form. The license is limited to download and playback of Download Files on authorized personal computers located solely within the United States of America. You agree that the Content Keys and associated Download Files will not be shipped, transferred, exported, downloaded or installed outside of the United States of America.

That means no playback on your Creative Zen player for now but you could possibly transfer it to a UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC) and still keep the resolution the same. Hey, if you can do it with movies bought through the iTunes Store, why not these? Then again, lack of CPU horsepower might be a problem as the Samsung Q1 (as an example) has only a 900 MHz processor.

You must activate each of the three (3) authorizations associated with each Content Key within three (3) years from the purchase date of the Content Key (the “Activation Period”). If you do not activate an authorization within the Activation Period then a new Content Key must be purchased. Once an authorization has been activated then the personal computer that was authorized to playback the Download File will remain authorized to do so until any one of the following occur: (i) your rights under this EULA expire; (ii) the Content Key associated with the authorization expires or is terminated or (iii) you no longer have a copy of the Download File associated with the Content Key; or (iv) you no longer own the personal computer that was authorized with the Content Key.

I don’t know if this service is going to last one year, much less three.

Sales conducted through the Site shall be deemed to have occurred in the State of Texas, USA. This Site is intended for the enjoyment and use of residents of the United States of America and Canada however the EST Services are limited to the United States of America.

So Canadians can enjoy looking at the unwelcoming purple interface but not actually download anything? It seems that’s the case until the service expands to other countries. Also since the “sale” is regarded to have taken place in Texas, there might be sales tax on your download if you live in that state but I’m not entirely sure.

Before you actually play your downloaded content, you must “download and play the sample file first,” which in this case was the Guvyer trailer. When I tried to use VLC to play the episode before I had “authorized” it within Windows Media Player, I got scrambled video and no audio so the DRM works on that level. When you initially open it in WMP, you have to acquire the media rights. After that, it should play smoothly if you have the capacity to handle the DVD-quality bit rate of 4140 Kbps.

It ran choppy on my computer because I only have 512 megs of RAM so it was a bitch to watch. I’m sure it’s a good action series but I couldn’t stand the slowness so I stopped after five minutes. People with more robust systems might have a better time with it but I wouldn’t even bother. I’d rather buy physical DVDs that can use at my leisure in a standard player or drive and have the ability to rip them into a format so I can actually watch the anime I bought.

ADV, I hope you’re not pinning your hopes on this venture because it just doesn’t seem appetizing for consumers right now.


Key Points:
US $5 per episode
Episodes are dubbed
Must be have United States address
Uses Windows Media “Plays For Sure” DRM
Can only be viewed on three authorized computers

Specs (for free Guyver episode):
File Size: 438 MB
Resolution: 632×480
Length: 23m29s
Codec: VC-1
Bit Rate: 4140 Kbps
Frame Rate: 29 fps
Audio: 128kbps wma


5 responses to “ADV Universe content has Windows DRM, only available in US

  1. Even if I did live in the US, I can’t say this looks like something I’d ever bother with. It just seems to be many times more painful than just waiting until you can buy or rent the DVD instead.

  2. Pingback: Legal Anime Download Services » 9rules Featured

  3. Yeah, it’s not worth the hassle. I mean… if they were willing to sell these drm encumbered (read: broken and unusable) files for significantly less than they cost on DVD, that’d be one thing. But they’re not. $5/episode vs $20/dvd… doesn’t jive with me.

    This sort of download is 100% pure profit for the company. They don’t have to worry about printing discs and then selling to stores who are in turn worried that they’ll actually be able to sell them all. They don’t have to worry about warehouse space or the postal system or anything… They just offer server space and shell out a few cents of bandwidth whenever somebody (re)downloads the file.

  4. It’s not at all true that a digital download is 100% pure profit. Before you even get to the server and bandwidth costs, there are transaction processing fees, the cost of converting from a format like digibeta to an encoded file (and for Windows Media, each of the sites that resell will likely have different specs in terms of bit rate and video size, so it’s not encode one/run everywhere) , the revnue share portion retained by the reseller (CinemaNow, iTunes, etc.), the revenue share back to the Japanese licensor, the personnel costs for managing all the less-tangible things that have to be managed, like time spent negotiating Japanese licensors for digital sell-through rights, building awareness and sales for the program, etc. Even without the less tangible costs, on a $3 download the distributor might see, maybe, $.75

  5. Dubbed only? It’s weird they don’t offer a choice. If they don’t have subs I won’t bother with it. $5 for a single 20 minute episode is crazy. It’s too bad licensing costs so much.