Excitement and dread. That’s what I feel when I purchase a big ticket item. Maybe I should be a bit more excited, with a bit less dread, as I’m sure this will improve my sense of joy when buying stuff. But maybe feeling joy is the wrong emotion to feel in the already far too consumerism driven world that we live in.
Let’s zoom right into this week’s WNR.
Good news for those living in the UK. but still living in the ‘noughties’ – you’ll finally be able to rip CDs as CD ripping and other format shifting will become legal in the UK. But only if there’s no DRM protecting the content – in that case, it’s still very much illegal.
So basically, not much of a change unless you still buy CDs, and have always felt guilty about ripping them (so basically “nobody” on both accounts). Now you can rip it without feeling guilty. Isn’t copyright law reform great?
If you really really need to rip something that is protected, there is recourse for action – contact the Secretary of State! Seriously, look it up, that’s the only thing you can do if you want to format-shift something and excessive copyright is standing in your way.
I for one am looking forward to 2025, when we’ll finally get the right to convert DVDs to DivX.
But for now, you’ll be lucky to not don’t end up in an Antiguan jail if you happen to own a company that makes DVD or Blu-ray rippers. Because that’s where Slysoft’s owner Giancarla Bettini might end up following a legal decision against the company’s products. It won’t get that far, because fines will be paid and that will be that (not to mention the appeal), but for those that thought Antigua was a safe haven for all things copyright related, it might be time to think again.
Antigua’s anti-copyright stance comes from a dispute with the US over online gambling, a dispute that the island eventually won via a WTO ruling, which allowed Antigua to ignore US copyright claims as a way to recoup their losses. However, Antigua’s own copyright laws does have an anti-circumvention clause, which the AACS LA, the company responsible for managing Blu-ray’s copy protection scheme, managed to exploit to full advantage.
While normally a civil matter in other countries, Antiguan copyright laws made circumvention a criminal matter, with fines or jail time being the penalties.
The AACS LA has certainly been busy lately, going after both DVDFab and Slysoft, with the latter also named in the USTR’s Notorious Piracy Market list for this year. Is this a renewed attack on rippers, particularly Blu-ray ones? Time will tell.
The Kindle Fire, when first released, heralded the age of cheap branded tablets (cheap because they’re subsidized by content sellers like Amazon and Google). Amazon is trying their luck again with the Fire TV device, but this time for the streaming set-top box market. Taking on the likes of the Apple TV, Roku and to a lesser extent, the Chromecast, the Amazon Fire TV aims to bring not only streaming films to the lounge room, but also cheap games too – a $99 device that supports almost all of the streaming providers, plus offers apps from Amazon, and potentially thousands of games too (playability made easier with a $40 game controller add-on).
Interestingly, despite being competitors in the SVOD field, Netflix is a launch partner for the Fire TV (which, of course, supports Amazon’s Prime streaming service).
The big question is whether another streaming box is needed, since even if you discount the game consoles (which you shouldn’t), there are already plenty of streamers out there. In Amazon’s corner is the promise of a more open ecosystem (as the Fire TV is based on a fork of Android, albeit a very very heavily modified version of it), and easier searching via the built-in voice search feature. The quad-core, 2GB RAM powered device also promises to be a performance king, even if it only has a small 8GB storage (not really needed for streaming, but certainly for game and apps).
The Android nature of the device also means games will be plentiful for the system, although some games don’t necessarily translate well from phones/tablets to the TV screen (even with Amazon’s promised app that will allow you to control games via existing tablets).
It’s an interesting device, and for $99, it might be just worth playing around with.
EA just can’t seem to get out of trouble with Nintendo. Last year, they shocked the gaming world by announcing they had no games in the works for the Wii U, only to come out a few days later to say they did. Their Frostbite engine works on all the popular gaming platforms, except for the Wii U, and so Nintendo fans have always felt that EA isn’t giving Nintendo the love the company deserves.
So the mean spirited April Fools tweets that came out of the Frostbite Twitter account probably didn’t help matters for all concerned, forcing EA to issue an apology. The tweets mocked the Wii U’s perceived underpowered status, and the fact that the Wii U does not support the Frostbite engine.
EA’s COO Peter Moore called those tweets ‘stupid’ and ‘unacceptable’, but I would also like to add ‘unfunny’ to the list.
On that note, let’s end this week’s WNR before I have to end up issuing an official apology on Twitter for writing something stupid, unacceptable and unfunny (the last one is a given though). See you next week.