Weekly News Roundup (23 September 2007)

This might become a regular feature on the blog (hopefully) if, unlike most of my other projects, I actually manage to keep it up for more than a few weeks. I’ll go through all the news items that have gone through the Digital Digest website and forum.

Starting with some copyright related news, I found some funny anti-piracy video parodies on the net and posted them up – it’s not strictly news, but I thought it needed to be shared. There was news that MediaDefender, a anti-piracy company, set up a fake video sharing websites to lure people in to get their details for legal purposes – it’s ironic that their own emails and details were leaked or stolen, and it’s now available online for all to see. The MPAA is at it again, and they once again have asked ISPs to help them catch video pirates, or to filter out “inappropriate” content, and maybe even charge users extra up front for the movies they will no doubt steal at some point. Macrovision, the company with the slogan “quality protection”, which actually means copy protection that ruins quality, is talking about legal DVD rips, albeit at a premium. It’s not a bad idea, I must admit, and it’s certainly better than introducing more and more layers of (easily bypassed and consumer unfriendly) DRM. And to round off the copyright related news, Germany will ban all kinds of CD and DVD copying, even for personal use, starting in 2008.

Now onto some gaming news, reports say that Sony will sell its PS3 cell chip division or manufacturing plant to Toshiba, Sony’s bitter rivals in the HD war. Are Sony that desperate to free up some cash to subsidize their struggling PS3? Or is this just part of normal business and cooperation between Japanese conglomerates, which happens quite frequently. A Star Wars lightsaber game on the Wii? Yes please (and what took so long). Sony’s long awaited “Home” virtual community for the PS3 is going to be delayed – things are really not going well for the PS3, and comments such as the following from Sony execs aren’t helping:

Going aggressive only on price without being able to back it up with content doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me

In other words, no discounts for the PS3 because it doesn’t have enough games to make up for the loss in income. Yes, I’m sure the high price and low hardware sales will encourage software publishers to make more games for the PS3, not less. Bioshock on the PS3 anyone?

In HD news, Intel says that it’s next mobile chip platform, Montevina, will support both Blu-ray and HD DVD decoding. Intel is still a major backer of HD DVD, but because Blu-ray uses the same set of video codecs as HD DVD, it’s impossible to support one HD format without supporting the other, unless they do something really sneaky and anti-competitive by deliberately blocking Blu-ray playback or acceleration. Not that Blu-ray will care even if Intel ditches Blu-ray, because you see, they have already won will win. Disney CEO Robert Iger is quote as saying that “victory is a forgone conclusion” during an investment meeting, which stunned other attending studio execs. I went on a nice rant at Iger’s statement, and also this other statement: “The public can tell the difference” statement in regards to Blu-ray being heaps better than HD DVD – yes, there differences Mr. Iger. Blu-ray can’t do the advanced interactive stuff that HD DVD has been doing since day one, like picture-in-picture and Internet connectivity. A lot of Blu-ray titles also used the inferior MPEG-2 video codec, making for a poorer picture quality compared to MPEG-4 AVC or VC-1 encoded discs. But Blu-ray does have more copy protection and region protection (HD DVD is region-free), so I’m sure that’s exactly what consumers want. Just what kind of company would sacrifice essential features and quality, and yet not miss a beat when it comes to unnecessary DRM and region control?

Okay, that’s about it for this week. Stay tuned next week, same time same place, for another roundup (hopefully).


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