Weekly News Roundup (15 September 2013)

How are you on this fine Sunday. Most of this WNR was written ahead of time as I went sand crab catching on Saturday. [INSERT UPDATE ON HOW MANY CRABS WERE CAUGHT OR INSERT SOMETHING FUNNY IF NO CRABS WERE CAUGHT]. It was a very enjoyable, “and very rewarding”/”but not very fruitful” [DELETE AS APPROPRIATE], trip. So a short WNR, but still with a few interesting tidbits to go through. Let’s get started.

CopyrightCommon sense tells us that graduated response, or three-four-or-however-many strikes, hasn’t really worked as a piracy deterrent. Or as a way to promote the purchase of legitimate content. It’s common sense because many countries, like France, New Zealand, Taiwan, South Korea, have had their own regimes for a while now, and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of noise regarding their effectiveness, even from the most biased sources. It is also common sense to us because we’re not idiots.

At the same time, there has been many studies that point out the ineffectiveness of three-strikes. The latest one comes from Australia’s Monash University. A new paper by Dr Rebecca Giblin finds that graduated response has failed in the three key areas that it was designed to have an effect in. Namely, reduced infringement, to promote the purchase of legitimate content, and to promote the creation and distribution of new content. The study found little evidence, if any, that graduated response has had a positive effect in any of these three key areas.

Three Strikes

Three, or however many, strikes doesn’t work to stop piracy, encourage legal purchases, or the creation of new content, a new study finds

It doesn’t reduce infringement because people can simply use another method to download their movies and TV shows, one that is not monitored by three-strikes. It doesn’t promote the purchase of legitimate content because of the previous point, and also because it doesn’t really solve any of the issues that encourages people to pirate (namely price, availability, usability). This is all fairly obvious to anyone who just thinks a little bit about the problem with piracy. In that piracy isn’t a problem of enforcement, it’s an issue of convenience and pricing. And effective enforcement was never really going to be possible anyway, not without a herculean effort that would fail even the most optimistic cost/benefit analysis, and at the same time, shred our privacy rights.

Simply stated, graduated response doesn’t work. It’s a waste of money, and it unnecessarily reduces our right to privacy and due process. But it’s considered a panacea among the pro-copyright lobby, so expect more countries to adopt this in the near future.

The only thing more pointless than graduated response, and more dangerous, may be search engine censorship. And in an effort to hold the fort against the mounting pressure from copyright holders to start messing around with search results, Google has released a report detailing the company’s anti-piracy principles and the successes in fighting the good fight.

Other than the usual self propelled back patting, the report does state quite clearly what methods the search engine giants thinks is most effective in reducing online piracy. It starts with the perfectly reasonable call for better legitimate alternative to piracy, more of your Netflixes and Spotifys, and in a somewhat transparent gesture of self promotion, Google Play and YouTube. The rest of the report simply states Google’s anti-piracy efforts, including the 4 million DMCA takedown requests the company has to deal with every week, as well as efforts in shutting down revenue sources for pirates.

An interesting read, no doubt. But will it placate the copyright lobby and their political servants? Probably not, but it was worth a shot anyway.

High Definition

I mentioned a couple of months ago that the BDA (Blu-ray Disc Association) has been investigating the potential for 4K movies to be distributed via Blu-ray discs. New rumors suggest that a positive announcement from the BDA on this is not too far away. Adding fuel to the fire is this story about a German Blu-ray disc manufacturer announcing a new line of triple-layer 100GB Blu-ray discs, and their press release specifically mentions 4K as one of the intended uses.

Blu-ray Player

Could existing Blu-ray players be made capable of reading 100GB triple-layer discs containing 4K content? Does it even matter, as these players may not be powerful enough to decode 4K content anyway …

100GB should be more than enough for 4K movies, especially if it uses the new H.265/HEVC codec (but even with H.264/AVC, 100GB should be enough). The big question is whether these new discs would be compatible with existing Blu-ray players, perhaps after an obligatory firmware update. However, new players will probably have to be produced to support 4K output and support for H.265/HEVC, and older players may lack the processing grunt to handle the decoding anyway; so having these discs be readable by older Blu-ray players may be somewhat pointless (although being able to downscale Blu-ray 4K content to 1080p would be a very nice feature to have for existing Blu-ray owners, and will no doubt help push Blu-ray 4K sales at a time when 4K TVs are still too expensive).

The other main advantage of backwards compatibility is that with the PS4 and Xbox One both having Blu-ray drives, and both capable of outputting at 4K resolutions, these would instantly become the Blu-ray 4K players of choice in the same way the PS3 was the Blu-ray player of choice back when Blu-ray first launched. Stay tuned to this space.

If any of this is true, it would definitely keep Blu-ray relevant in the 4K era. I know Sony, of all people, are going down the disc-less route in terms of 4K, but discs are still the most efficient way to transmit the large amounts of data required by 4K right now. That will change with the increase penetration of fiber based broadband, but this could take years. And we’ll probably have the bandwidth hogging holographic TV to worry about by then!


The August NPD report has been released. The Xbox 360 was once again the most popular home based console for the month of August 2013 for the US market. This is the 32nd time in a row that Microsoft’s console has won the accolade.

GTA V Screenshot

GTA V will be occupying most of my free time over the next couple of weeks, I suspect

However, only 96,000 Xbox 360s were sold, only half of what it was a year ago. This is the first time in a long time that the Xbox 360 has sold less than 100,000 units in a given month, and the fact that it was still the best selling out of the other home based consoles, tells a rather unfortunate story. Still, with only months left before the Xbox One and PS4 are on the market, the low hardware sales are to be expected. GTA V’s release this month will boost hardware sales when the NPD releases its report this time next month though.

Speaking of GTA V, I’ve pre-ordered my copy (despite the fact that the pre-ordering phenomenon is directly incentivizing the video game industry’s many bad habits these days – but I just can’t say no to a GTA game). I doubt I’ll have time to play it until next weekend, so please do not expect a surprisingly wordly edition of the WNR next week. It ain’t gonna happen!

That’s it for the week. I’m off the enjoy a nice dinner that includes crabs/no crabs [DELETE AS APPROPRIATE]. See you next week.


Comments are closed.

About Digital Digest | Help | Privacy | Submissions | Sitemap

© Copyright 1999-2012 Digital Digest. Duplication of links or content is strictly prohibited.