A new Kickstarter wants to bring the lending of DVDs into the 21st century, but they might be sued into submission before things have barely started.
The new project, called MovieSwap, wants you and others to send in their unwanted DVDs. Then, the service will facilitate the lending and swapping of said discs with millions of other users around the world by ripping and storing the DVDs online for digital streaming and download.
Each disc can only be "lent" to one other user at a time (but MovieSwap will have multiple copies of the same film, sent to them by users), and is stored securely at MovieSwap's HQ. So in principle, it will be no different to lending to a real person, except you can lend to strangers and never have to worry about not getting the disc back (or getting it back scratched!). For those on the receiving end, it also means being able to access the movie in digital form, across multiple devices, including the service's own Kindle Fire like media player stick.
To access the service, users will have to pay a monthly subscription fee (which places one DVD into their library), or send in their old DVDs. Each DVD entitles the user to swap for another DVD.
The project has already received tremendous support from Kickstarter users, having exceeded the €35,000 Kickstarter goal by more than €6,000 already at the time of writing. The project claims that it already backed by investors and suggests that Jean-Baptiste Kempf, synonymous with the VLC media player project (and current president of the VideoLAN non-profit org), is a backer.
But while users and investors may see a bright future for MovieSwap, Hollywood is likely to take a dimmer view. With them cut out of the loop revenue wise, and with DVD ripping and DRM circumvention on the cards, it's unlikely the litigation happy movie studios will sit idly by and allow MovieSwap to prosper.
So it might very well be boxes and boxes of legal documents, not DVDs, that the MPAA lawyers will be sending MovieSwap's way in the near future.