UltraViolet, the multiplatform plan to let consumers watch legitimate content across a wide range of devices, crept another step forward today with the opening of its licensing platform to content, technology and distribution partners. It also welcomed eight new members to the consortium, including Walmart’s Vudu and Blockbuster Inc.

UltraViolet’s governing body Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) said consumers can expect to start seeing UltraViolet physical media and sell-through content by fall.

Licensees can market content, services and products with the UltraViolet name and logo, use the consortium’s account manager and cloud-based digital rights locker system as created by Neustar, and implement the technical specifications that DECE formalized in January. This means licensees can start creating the services so that consumers can actually use UltraViolet lockers.

From the movie studios’ perspective, UltraViolet is intended to encourage movie purchases rather than rentals. It also wants to make the entire digitization process more efficient by enabling studios encode and encrypt movies just one time, yet have it play across multiple platforms.

From the consumers’ perspective, UltraViolet is designed to simplify ownership by eliminating the current roadblocks to moving content from one system to another, such as from DVD to a portable player, or watching a movie from Best Buy’s CinemaNow service on a device that’s connected via Walmart’s Vudu.

“Consumers are looking for a better value proposition to own and collect digital movies and TV shows — a proposition that provides downloads, streaming and physical copy viewing options which are accessible on multiple platforms,” said UltraViolet manager Mark Teitell. “The initiation of UltraViolet’s business-to-business licensing program represents another key step in the development and roll-out of this new ecosystem designed to respond to this consumer demand.”

In the first half of 2011, DECE added eight new member companies, including AMD, Blockbuster Inc., CyberLink Corp., NVIDIA Corporation, PacketVideo Corp., Roadshow Entertainment, SeaChange and Walmart’s Vudu. DECE now includes more than 70 members in ten countries, all of which are listed on the UltraViolet site, spanning entertainment, software, hardware, retail, infrastructure and digital delivery. As ever, Disney and Apple remain conspicuous by their absence.

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