Weekly News Roundup (10 May 2009)

So the secret is out. The new section I had been working on is called the Amazon Blu-ray Price Index. It’s just another way to find Blu-ray titles from Amazon, with emphasis on price sorting/filtering and some automated functions to spotlight the bargains that are to be had. It’s not terribly exciting, but it was just something that I needed personally and I thought I might as well share my scripts with the whole world. More information about what exactly the new section does here. Let’s get through the WNR quickly this week, because I have to go out soon, it is Mother’s Day after all.


Let’s quickly start with Copyright news. After the “successful” Swedish The Pirate Bay verdict, the Italians want to do something similar as well. They could have been a bit more creative to go after an Italian Pirate Bay style website, but they’re going after The Pirate Bay as well. They should probably also wait until the many levels of appeals are settled before advancing with their own trial, because the outcome is far from certain in Sweden at the moment.

Is this the end of Mininova?

Is this the end of Mininova?

The Pirate Bay repercussions continues, with both the RIAA and MPAA website’s known exploits being used to publish torrent related news and content. I guess it does highlight that sometimes a website or individual could be taking part in piracy related actions without their own knowledge of the fact, as some people with un-secured Wi-Fi has found out all too late. And possibly related to TPB verdict, Mininova has came out with a rather strange statement about introducing content filtering into their torrent archives. The first time I read it, I thought it was a belated April Fools joke – Mininova filtering copyrighted content is like Playboy removing pictures from their magazines. The comments to their blog post announcing this has been brutal, which was to be expected. Maybe this was just an attempt to appease their lawyers, to show that they are serious about copyright, and perhaps it might not lead to any major changes. Remember that Mininova has a trial pending in a month’s or two’s time, so perhaps they need to show some effort in trying to clean up their content, or at least allow content owners a way to get content removed. Of course, I don’t think the MPAA or whomever can be appeased until they get a verdict against Mininova and similar sites and get these sites closed, so it may all be quite pointless (and harmful, maybe, because the MPAA could now say that since they have tried to reduce it, Mininova are aware of a piracy problem on their website and so they cannot claim that they are not violating copyright).

Wolverine was released to the cinemas last week. As you may be aware, a very early draft version of the movie was leaked online a couple of months ago, and it was thought that this would seriously impact on the box office results. But guess what? Wolverine topped the box office at release, and it appears the publicity over the piracy story may have even helped it. Of course, the studio has come out and said that results would have been even higher without the pirated version, but that’s a nothing statement that can’t be proved. I can say that Wolverine would have done worse at the box office without the pirated version and Fox cannot disprove this either. Anyway, it’s a pretty average movie anyway and if you want a real summer blockbuster, Star Trek is the movie you need, for trekkies/trekkers and normal people alike (I’m a trekkie, btw – death to trekkers and normal people!).  

Teachers should camcord DVDs - The MPAA has outdone itself in the stupidity stakes this time

Teachers should camcord DVDs - The MPAA has outdone itself in the stupidity stakes this time

The MPAA wants teachers to camcord DVDs because they don’t want them to use rippers and the like. They even made a video demonstrating how great and easy camcording DVD is. The reason they are doing this is because the DMCA has provisions which allow it to be broken for educational purposes, and teachers creating their own educational videos might have to occasionally rip a DVD or two. The MPAA doesn’t want even this, which has absolutely zero effect on piracy. And you can’t just connect a VCR or DVD recorder to a DVD player and record like that, thanks to the stupid Macrovision copy protection. So camcording becomes the only way, in the MPAA’s eyes. This is copyright control gone crazy, because the next thing you know, the MPAA will request teachers to close all blinds, turn of all mobiles, and make sure they are completely alone before they are allowed to camcord away. They will then force the students to sign a document stating that they won’t try to pirate this camcorded version before they are allowed to watch it. And then the camcorded copy must be registered online and then sent to the MPAA for destruction. I hope I haven’t given the MPAA any ideas.   

And this week saw the latest downloadable content for Fallout 3 released, the Broken Steel add-on that everyone’s been waiting for (me included). Well, at least the initials BS does seem rather appropriate, because the released PC version was extremely “Broken”, thanks largely to some screw-up involving Microsoft’s DRM scheme. Meanwhile, the people who pirated the game and add-on were playing it quite nicely, while the rest had to wait two days for Microsoft to fix the problem. My story was the same as most people who rushed to buy and download the DLC, only to see a cryptic “cryptographic message” error message pop up when trying to install the damn thing. So piracy *not* stopped, and genuine consumers stuffed – DRM’s work is done for today!

High Definition

Let’s move on to HD news. Rumours abound that Apple will finally add Blu-ray drives to their systems and add Blu-ray playback to iTunes. I’ll believe it when I see the Apple press release, and not a minute sooner. At least they’ve backed off on the Blu-ray drive for the Xbox 360 rumours.

BBC's iPlayer: heavy bandwidth usage required

BBC's iPlayer: heavy bandwidth usage required

Lots of hoo-ha about Blu-ray player sales being great, thanks to lower prices. Really? Lower prices equals better sales? I hope Sony’s gaming division is listening. As for the sales figures, I hope they’re comparing it to something meaningful, as opposed to say last year’s figures because sales were pretty low back then and the only way since was up.

Still more hoo-ha about HD video downloads replacing discs and all that. Not yet, is my opinion, but it will happen. But to look at one of the difficulties involved with video downloads, we have this article about the BBC’s iPlayer that talks about how much bandwidth it used. 7 Petabytes per month sounds quite amazing, especially when you consider that iPlayer is not available in most countries in the world. I don’t even know what a Petabyte was until I did a Google, but it is 1,000 TB, or 1,000,000 GB or 125,000 DVDs or only 20,000 Blu-ray discs. If you put it like that, then Blu-ray discs are still capable of “carrying” more data to more people more economically right now I think, because I don’t think the BBC could afford thousands of PBs of transfer, which is what might be required for a global based video download service. 


And finally in gaming, the rumour this week is that Microsoft is going head to head with the Wii with their own motion sensing system. The twist, however, is that Microsoft’s system won’t require a controller at all. Instead, your body movements are all that’s needed for the system to work. True or not, we’ll find out eventually, but I do question how accurate such a system will be, when you consider that even with a controller, the whole motion thing is a bit hit and miss if you need to do anything accurate with them. 

Okay, that’s it for this week. Don’t forget to check out the Amazon Blu-ray Price Index – it’s delicious and healthy, and can form part of your daily nutritional needs. Guaranteed!


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