Drowned out in all the hullabaloo over Apple’s unveiling of the next iPad was its announcement that its cloud storage of movies had gone live. Those who have bought movies from iTunes can now stream their films onto their Apple devices. Two studios, though — 20th Century Fox and Universal Pictures — aren’t letting their films come out and play for now.
Netflix would like to buddy up with Facebook, but a 1988 law called the Video Privacy Protection Act, which makes it illegal to publish customers’ rental history, prevents it from doing so. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings noted the legal roadblock at Facebook’s f8 conference Thursday, and the company publicly asked customers for support.
Facebook is lining up deals with movie studios to put their films online for streaming rental, making agreements with Universal last week and Miramax this week. Using special apps for the services, you pay 30 Facebook credits — $3 per film — and have a 48-hour window to watch the movies.
Back in the late 1980s, lawmakers were determined to prevent movie rental companies from publishing customers’ rental history. The Video Privacy Protection Act made violations punishable by $2,500 per offense. Now the law is causing headaches for Facebook and Netflix because it’s reportedly written in a way that would forbid Netflix from publishing your rental history on your Facebook page.
For years, Netflix steadily made its service more user-friendly by adding devices on which it let you stream films and improving the apps that let you do so. But now the company has taken a step backward in functionality by removing the ability to add DVDs to your queue from everything but the Netflix site.