While physical media is still very much alive, streaming media has taken the world by storm thanks to its immeasurable convenience. Streaming suffers from its own unique set of roadblocks though, in the form of digital content rights. Not every piece of media is available on every service, nor in every territory. MovieSwap looks to fix that, but their methods are legally questionable.

The core concept behind MovieSwap is the lending of movies. You are legally allowed to lend a friend a DVD, which they can take home and watch. MovieSwap would take it a step further. You would send them your physical DVDs, which they will store in a warehouse while giving you access to a digital copy of your movie. You are then allowed to loan that digital copy to anyone else on the service, and vice versa. The more people join, the more people send in movies, and the larger the collection grows. Theoretically, this could lead to a user being able to stream any movie, old or new, rare or not, without having to worry about rights restrictions – as long as someone owns it and has sent it into the service.

Of course, MovieSwap’s entire operation would exist in a legal gray area. The folks at MovieSwap claim that it’s fine, studio executives beg to differ. That’s no surprise. The service could seriously cut into studio profits. And Mp3.com once tried to offer the same service for music, but were promptly sued and shut down by multiple major music labels, possibly giving movie studios the precedent they may need to take action against MovieSwap.


It’ll be interesting to see this play out. The MovieSwap kickstarter has already surpassed its goal, so the service will be going forward. We can start taking bets right now on how far they’re actually going to get.

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