Weekly News Roundup (4 May 2014)

Welcome to another WNR. It’s getting colder here where I am, winter is certainly coming (in the southern hemisphere). Makes it just that much harder to get work started, especially on a Sunday.

Let’s get started anyway.


Aereo Antenna Array

Aereo’s dime sized antennas – smart or too clever for their own good?

Trying to abide by copyright laws in the digital age can be tricky. Or rather, there are some tricky ways you can try to obey the letter of the law, if not exactly in spirit. Which is what Aereo’s business model seems like to me – completely legal (as tested in court, twice already), but does not quite pass the smell test.

For those that don’t know, Aereo allows subscribers to stream TV channels to their mobile devices, and even record programs to a cloud based DVR. Aereo gets around the “problem” of paying for a broadcast or re-transmission license by providing each subscriber with their own dime sized TV antennas, and each antenna is only used to provide content to one unique subscriber. So instead of broadcast or re-transmission, there’s a 1-to-1 relationship between each received signal and streamed or recorded content. It’s a technically sound and legal solution, but it’s seems to me like a ridiculous solution intended to be used as a loophole, and not a genuine piece of innovation.

Still, the only outcome I would want to see in the much publicized Aereo Supreme Court case is a victory for the start-up. With the lower courts and the appeals court already siding with Aereo, the Supreme Court would have to set new precedent, and do so in an incorrect way (not the first time with this court), to side with big business interests (again, not the first time with this court).


Going to the cinemas and not get accosted by law enforcement is getting harder and harder these days it appears. While wearing a pair of Google Glass to the cinema (even if it is turned off, and only using it as normal prescription glasses) might be the very definition of asking for trouble, having a brick slider phone in your pocket is surely not going to attract any trouble, right? Well, an elderly woman in Provo Utah was not so lucky, accused of trying to record a movie with her “classic” phone and thrown out into the street for her troubles.

LG KC780

Is a slider phone like this a dangerous movie piracy tool?

The woman says the phone was in her pocket after her husband left half way through the movie and handed it to her. She was also using a closed captioning device, which may have been mistaken for recording equipment by whoever dobbed her in.

For me, even if she had been recording the movie on her phone, as long as it’s not disturbing other cinema goers, is it really such a big deal. The quality of the recording on a handheld phone, especially a classic slider style brick (probably only has a recording resolution of 640×480), is no threat to studios worried their films will end up online. The fact that the police officers who arrived to throw her out apparently did not find anything incriminating on the phone suggests no recording took place anyway.

So it looks this is a case of more collateral damage in the paranoid driven War on Piracy. Going to the cinemas has never been so dangerous, and it almost makes you wanna, I don’t know, download the movie and watch it at home or something. I mean, that’s what the studios are trying to achieve right? To scare people from going to the cinemas and making piracy look like the more attractive choice? No?

High Definition

Sony has issued the strongest indication yet that physical media may be on the way out. The company wrote down nearly a quarter of a billion dollars worth of assets in its disc manufacturing business, including Blu-ray manufacturing, due to slowing demand. You can blame Netflix for that, I guess.

Blu-ray Player

Blu-ray is unlikely to reach the sales highs that DVDs once enjoyed, but it’s not going away any time soon

Those that follow our weekly Blu-ray sales analysis will be able to spot the trend of a rapidly slowing DVD business, and a slower than expected take up of Blu-ray (unable to make up for the losses in DVD revenue). While Blu-ray is still growing in the US, it’s doing so slowly. Much of the growth in the home entertainment industry is coming from purely digital services like Netflix. And while both the PS4 and Xbox One is using Blu-ray discs for distributing games, even the gaming business is moving towards digital streaming and downloads. Sony has invested heavily in its digital distribution networks in recent times for both its media and gaming businesses, a sign that the company is fairly certain its predictions are correct.

So after considerably effort to win the HD format wars, which looks to have at the very least severely damaged the PS3’s chance to win the last generation wars, has Sony’s support for Blu-ray been worth it? While Blu-ray demand will not grow as quickly as the company had wanted, there is no evidence that Blu-ray is dying (how can there be when its demand is still growing?). And with Microsoft now firmly in the Blu-ray camp with the Xbox One, it’s pretty clear that Blu-ray will take over from DVDs as the dominant disc format. That, however, may be a hollow victory as people move away from discs altogether.

So Blu-ray’s peak will be a smaller peak that that of DVD’s, but it will still be around.

Well, I’ve definitely passed my peak for the day, so it’s time to call it. See you next week!


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