iTunes Digital Copy and Movie Tips

March 9, 2012
iTunes Movies in the Cloud

Movies in the iTunes Cloud

With the release of the new Apple TV and iPad, Apple announced the availability of 1080P movies from the iTunes store. Also, just like TV shows, movies can also be streamed directly from Apple’s cloud to an Apple TV. You can also download the movies to any iOS device or a Mac. The other day, Tech of the Hub discovered that the iTunes Digital Copies that come with select Blu-rays and DVDs behave like any other movie purchased from iTunes. Yes, iTunes digital copies are available for download or for streaming from Apple’s cloud. Here’s my list of tips for using Apple’s new movie and iTunes Digital Copy functionality. As I learn more, I will add to and update the list.

  • Once a movie is purchased or a Digital Copy is authorized, you can download it to any Mac, iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch that supports iCloud. Apple TV streams directly from Apple’s cloud.
  • Digital copies expire if you don’t enter the authorization code by a certain date! If you look at the fine print on some DVDs and Blu-rays, you’ll notice that the code used to redeem the digital copy has an expiration date. One potential remedy is to email the DVD or Blu-ray company to request a new code. Update: Bad news, I emailed Warner Brothers support to get a new code for Watchmen but I was refused and reminded that the expiration was clearly stated on the packaging.
  • If you re-download an iTunes Digital Copy, you may gain access to iTunes extras and potentially a better quality video (but I haven’t seen an example yet). To downloaded the digital copy from iTunes, you will have to first delete the one you currently have in iTunes (just move it to “Trash” to be safe). After deleting the movie, here’s how to re-download it: Open iTunes and go to the home page of the iTunes store. Click on the new “Purchased” menu on the right-hand side of the screen. If you don’t see it, upgrade to the latest version of iTunes. This is what it looks like:
iTunes Menu Right-hand side

Select "Purchased" from right-hand iTunes menu

Next, select “Movies” from the top of the screen and you will see what titles are available for download (or to stream to your Apple TV). Click on the Cloud icon and the movie will download along with any iTunes extras if available.

Movies Available for download from iTunes

Movies Available for download from iTunes

  • Updated: It appears movies streamed from iCloud are always in SD not HD, specifically 480P. All iCloud downloads to the Mac and other devices are in SD as well. A significant number of them have Dolby Digital sound tracks. The encode is of good quality but it’s not HD.  I originally thought it was in HD since the Apple TV UI displayed 1080P in certain circumstances. More detail on this are here.
  • It appears the new iTunes movie functionality is only available in the United States for the moment (sorry, not even Canada!). Update: The service is now available in Canada and a number of other countries.
  • On occasion, it takes some time for your purchases to show up in iTunes. When Apple enabled the same functionality with TV shows, it took a little time for all of my TV shows to appear on Apple TV.
  • You cannot stream Digital Copies of movies from Universal Studios and Fox at the moment. Movies on HBO are also included in this restriction at the moment as HBO has exclusive rights to movies on their service; an example being Inception. My understanding is that these movies will be available down the road. Update: The embargo has been lifted.

Related Posts:

I’ve learned more about iTunes Digital Copy with the purchase of the Harry Potter Blu-rays

Tags: Apple, Apple TV, Digital Copy, HBO, iCloud, iTunes

5 Responses to iTunes Digital Copy and Movie Tips

  1. hawk0n on March 11, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    Hey Gabe,

    Are you using a Windows PC only? I have never really cared about those “Digital Copy”-labels on the DVD/Blu-ray-covers until now. Very interesting reading you provide…

    But when I trying my physical discs, the requirements ask me for Windows and Windows Media Player, witch of I of course have none…


    • Gabe Gagliano on March 11, 2012 at 9:27 pm

      I’m using a Mac. It has to be a “Digital Copy” for iTunes. If a Digital Copy of a DVD is only designed to work with Windows Media Player, it’s not going to show up in Apple’s cloud.

  2. Felipe on March 12, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    thanks for breaking down the info on digital copies. it works on my iphone, but it looks like be no go on the original iPad. any information on whether or not the original iPad was going to be supported regarding digital copies and purchased movies?


    • Gabe Gagliano on March 12, 2012 at 7:58 pm


      Make sure you are running iOS5 on your original iPad. As iOS5 gives you access to iCloud, it should work.

  3. Shawn on March 12, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    This is making me think of purchasing an Apple TV. And I don’t wanna think twice.

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