Archive for the ‘3D’ Category

Weekly News Roundup (24 January 2016)

Sunday, January 24th, 2016
PC Build - Boxes

PC Building Step 1: Find a place to store a lot of boxes

A pretty quiet week. I wonder if it’s because of MLK Day, but certainly the news stories only started to flow at the end of the week, too late to make it into this edition of the WNR.

Some update on the PC build front – all the parts have finally arrived, and the build can begin proper. Keep on eye out for our series of blog posts on this, which will feature plenty of hints and tips for those looking to start on their own build. In the meantime, feast your eyes on these glorious pics (of a very messy section of my office).

PC Build - Boxes, close up

Let’s get started with this very short WNR.

Copyright

Smartphone Music Headphones

People may be using piracy to sample new music

Some would like you to be believe that piracy is always bad, and that it always leads to losses for the rights-holders. There are also those that say piracy is never harmful, and it may even be beneficial. But like most things in life, the truth lies somewhere between these two extreme, and it’s far more complicated than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no.

And so concludes a new study which looked at (admittedly old data, from 2008) piracy and how it relates to sales, and found that piracy does indeed negatively affect sales, but can also boost sales at times. According to the paper, piracy affects physical purchases, while helping digital sales, and the least well known artists have more to lose than those that are more popular. This last point is interesting, as it seems to suggest that pirates are picking and choosing which music they pirate, and once they do that, which music they end up paying for. It’s almost as if they’re treating piracy as a discovery tool, to trial new music without having to pay the full price. Good, popular music have less to lose from piracy (and may even gain from it, thanks to the word-of-mouth effect), while bad or unpopular music aren’t being purchased when there’s a free pirated version around.

This is perhaps why Spotify and others like it has become so popular, so quickly, especially among (former) pirates. Spotify is giving them the chance to discover new music without having to be out of pocket, the difference now being that, thanks to ad-supported listening, the artists can get something out of it. Not much, but certainly more than what they would get from piracy. But if you make bad music nobody wants, don’t be surprised that people will listen to it on Spotify and not pay for it.

High Definition

Jurassic World Blu-ray

Jurassic World was 2015’s biggest Blu-ray release

With news hard to come by this week, I finally had the time to write the 2015 Blu-ray sales analysis article, Blu-ray: The State of Play – 2015. Based stats that I’ve been posting weekly through the entire year, and comparing with the same stats from a year ago, the conclusion definitely seem to point to 2013 being Blu-ray’s peak year in terms of sales revenue. Things have been going backwards for two year’s in a row now (although 2015’s decline was slower than that experienced in 2014), despite there being no lack of big titles, including Big Hero 6The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five ArmiesFurious 7Jurassic World and Minions. Jurassic World was the title to beat in 2015 though (just like The Force Awakens is likely to be hard to beat in 2016), not surprising considering that at the time of its release, it was the third biggest movie in history. There was nothing like it in 2014, and yet Blu-ray revenue was still higher then.

Of course, falling Blu-ray prices contribute to the decline in revenue, but the digital evolution is obviously having an effect too, especially considering you can get pretty good quality HD (and even 4K) from most of the digital outlets, including streaming.

Will Ultra HD Blu-ray lift Blu-ray revenue out from its steady decline? Probably not. There’s just not enough display hardware, and software available in 2016 to make a huge difference, and even if it turns out to be a mainstream success, all it will do is to eat into standard Blu-ray and DVD sales number, without necessarily creating new customers (like DVD did when it first came out). I think the people that will dig Ultra HD and 4K, are those that are already heavily invested into Blu-ray – they will spend money, maybe a little bit more money than normal on Ultra HD, but the average Joe is already looking way from discs, towards streaming and downloads.

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And I’m already looking away from my monitor, towards getting my new build up and running. See you next week!

 

Blu-ray: The State of Play – 2015

Monday, January 18th, 2016

Welcome to another edition of our annual Blu-ray sales analysis, where we look at how Blu-ray has performed over the last year. We’ve updated the format of this article slightly to hopefully try and make it clearer, while removing graphs that we think are no longer particularly relevant or useful.

The data used in this analysis derives from our weekly updates, based on figures released by Home Media Magazine. Some of the historical figures you’ll see have also been adjusted, due to slight tweaking of the metrics used by HMM to create these sets of data, although the changes have been very subtle and does not change the bigger picture in any way.

For 2014, we saw for the first time since the Blu-ray format’s inception a decline in revenue compared to the previous year, and at that time, we called 2014 “the year that Blu-ray went backwards”. We declared boldly at that time that it appears Blu-ray’s popularity had peaked in 2013. Were we premature in proclaiming “peak Blu-ray” had been reached, or will Blu-ray make a come-back in 2015? Read on to find out!

Blu-ray Market Share

As has been the case with all of our “Blu-ray: The State of Play” reports in the past, we start with the ever wider Blu-ray Market Share graph. Blu-ray market share represents weekly Blu-ray sales as a percentage of total packaged disc sales. So a Blu-ray market share of 45% means that 45% of all disc packages sold in that week contained a Blu-ray disc (inversely, this also means that 55% of disc packages sold only contained the DVD version of the content). In the graph below, we also point out some of the more obvious milestone releases. 2015’s major releases, at least those that had a significant impact on Blu-ray market share for the week that they were released, were Big Hero 6The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five ArmiesFurious 7Jurassic World and Minions, and notable mentions to The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, Interstellar, Fifty Shade of Grey, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Inside Out.

 

Blu-ray Sales Percentage – 4 May 2008 to 26 December 2015

Blu-ray Market Share – 2008 to 2015 – Click to see larger version

Note that because Blu-ray market share is proportional to DVD market share, any drop in DVD sales will also result in a higher Blu-ray market share, even if Blu-ray sales are steady. With DVD on a steady decline, Blu-ray market share will continue to rise as long as it’s own sales decline is slower than that of DVD’s.

Below is the same data condensed and with a trend line added. As you can see, Blu-ray market looked to be on the way down until the second half (or rather, the last quarter) of 2015, when the big releases started coming out (starting with Furious 7). The big peak you see in graph below, which represents the current time record in terms of Blu-ray market share, came in the week Jurassic World was released (Blu-ray market share of 48.62%), a movie which, had it not been for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, would have been this year’s biggest movie, and the 3rd biggest of all time worldwide (now down the 4th). Star Wars could break this record again when it is released in March or April, most likely.

Blu-ray Market Share – 2008 to 2015

Blu-ray Market Share – 2008 to 2015

Blu-ray Revenue

For actual revenue, unfortunately, no records were broken as you can see from the graph below. The peak you see in the graph below again corresponds to the two important sales period, the Black Friday/Cyber Monday week, and the pre-Christmas sales period. 2015’s peaks are comparable, if not slightly higher than that for 2014, but neither of the past two years could compete with 2013. So our earlier premise that 2013 was the peak year for Blu-ray appears to be holding true.

Outside of the two major peaks, the other significant weeks came in the weeks that Furious 7 and Jurassic World were released.

Blu-ray Revenue Growth – 2010 to 2015

Blu-ray Revenue Growth – 2010 to 2015

2014 vs 2015 Comparison

So let’s take a closer look at how 2015 did compared to 2014, starting with Blu-ray market share as shown in the graph below. It’s much easier to see the initial decline and then major rise in market share from first half of 2015 to the second half. Those big releases mentioned earlier had a major effect on Blu-ray market share,

Blu-ray Sales Market Share: 2014 vs 2015 Comparison

Blu-ray Sales Market Share: 2014 vs 2015 Comparison

Revenue wise, the differences between 2014 and 2015 were less visible – certainly the first part of 2015 were disappointing for Blu-ray, but the second half at the very least matched, and often beat, the performances of 2014.

Blu-ray Sales Revenue: 2014 vs 2015 Comparison

Blu-ray Sales Revenue: 2014 vs 2015 Comparison

We can get a clearer picture by looking at the raw numbers. Out of the 52 weeks in 2015, 31 of them had a weekly revenue lower than the same week in 2014. 21 weeks recorded a revenue result that was higher than the same week in 2014 (with 11 of these weeks coming in the last four months of the year). This is an improvement compared to last year, when 35 weeks performed poorer than the same weeks in 2013. So if Blu-ray is in decline, the decline definitely slowed in 2015.

But did total Blu-ray revenue decline in 2015? Unfortunately, it did. Total Blu-ray revenue for 2014 was $2.156 billion, compared to $2.041 billion in 2015, a decline of 5.35%. This makes 2015 only the second year in which there was a year-on-year revenue decline, since Blu-ray was first launched in 2006.

Conclusion

To sum up:

  • Blu-ray market share grew, but it may largely be due to the decline in DVD than any rise in Blu-ray sales
  • Jurassic World was the title to beat in 2015
  • Blu-ray revenue declines for the second year running

These results seem to confirm that 2013 was indeed the peak for Blu-ray sales. 2016 will be an interesting year, with Ultra HD Blu-ray coming onto the scene (still unsure how sales will be tracked at this point), and with a couple of big releases already lined up (Spectre, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, The Martian …), not to mention the tent-pole releases of 2016 (Batman vs Superman, Star Trek 3, Captain America: Civil War, X-Men: Apocalypse …), it’s hard to say whether we will see a small bounce in 2016, or whether the decline will continue.

Weekly News Roundup (27 July 2014)

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

I’ve been catching up on my list of “to watch” movies, both on Blu-ray, and on my Netflix “My List”. I really wish there was a separate genre for disturbing or depressing films, instead of lumping them all together in the drama genre. It doesn’t feel right that movies as different as ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ and ‘Enough Said’ both belong to the drama genre (at least according to the IMDb), or that a film as disturbing as ‘Blue Jasmine’ would also belong to the comedy genre. I watched ‘Blue Jasmine’ after back-to-back sessions of ‘City of God’ and ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’, and if I hadn’t watched ‘The Muppets’ in between, it would have seriously disturbed my mood (and even so …). Be very careful when choosing to watch a drama, that’s my tip for the week.

(‘Enough Said’ was pretty sweet though, so it was a real mood redeemer thanks to great performances by the late and great James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus)

And yes, I did have time to do (some) work in between epic movie sessions.

Copyright

Google DMCA Stats

Quantity over quality, may be the strategy behind some rightsholders choosing to use Google’s DMCA process over more effective systems

This week TorrentFreak investigates why rightsholders are choosing to use ineffective Google DMCA take-downs as opposed to more efficient take-down tools, specifically the British based BPI. On one hand, rightsholders are submitting millions of take-down requests for URLs that are almost instantly recreated, but are refusing to work with tools that not only take down actual content/files, not links, but also keep them down.

One of the targeted file hosts, 4shared, is using a tool that is now owned by Spotify, that allows rightsholders to request any specific piece of content to be taken down – the tool will then automatically remove all related links to this piece of content, and even prevent future links from being created on 4shared. So it’s curious as to why the BPI and other rightsholders aren’t using this tool. 4shared thinks that the decision comes down to a public relations one. Millions of take-downs make better headlines than say working with a file host that you’ve been publicly admonishing, using a tool that makes piracy take-downs seem almost trivial. Piracy is supposed to be this billion dollar a year headache that cannot be solved without basically giving rightsholders total control over everything, so there is a need to be able to show how big the problem really is, and millions of taken down links will do that. The fact that these take downs are part of an endless game of copyright whack-a-mole, doesn’t really matter, neither is the fact that this does nothing to win the war on piracy.

It’s hard to win when you actually don’t want to win.

High Definition

My recent Netflix binge has made me pine for a private viewing mode on Netflix, hoping that the eclectic collection of films I watch won’t end up confusing the Netflix recommendation system. My wish may come true soon, as it appears Netflix is testing a private watching mode. The current workaround is to have a dedicated profile that you create and delete all the time, which also helps to ensure all the softcore porn you’ve been watching on Netflix doesn’t end up on your My List.

Samsung 3D active shutter glasses

PS4 and Xbox One both getting Blu-ray 3D playback in the next few weeks

Meanwhile, Netflix this week announced that they’ve broken through the 50 million users barrier, with nearly 14 million outside of the US. Revenue was up 25% as well, compared to last year, as the company focuses less on securing expensive licensing rights to films and TV shows, and more on original content.

Back to physical media, Microsoft this week announced that Blu-ray 3D support will finally be added to the Xbox One console, and a couple of days later, Sony followed with a similar announcement for the PS4. The PS4’s Blu-ray 3D support will arrive a little earlier than the Xbox One’s – next week versus some time in August. The one-upmanship continues for these two console heavyweights, which I guess is a good thing for the consumer.

Thus far, the lack of Blu-ray 3D support has been a bit more embarrassing for Sony than for Microsoft, considering Sony’s close links to the Blu-ray format (ie. it’s their format). So the update, coming via firmware version 1.75 next week, is most welcomed.

And if Sony can bring back DLNA support to the PS4, then I can finally start thinking about upgrading my PS3.

Gaming

It’s that time of the month again, and the NPD report for June shows a marked improvement for the Xbox One, thanks to the Kinect-removing inspired price drop, while the PS4 was still the best selling console for the month (that’s 6 months in a row).

PS4 with controller and PS Eye

The PS4 is still beating the Xbox One, despite sales doubling in June for the latter

Xbox One sales doubled in June compared to May according to Microsoft, but they’ve not been as willing to release sales data ever since they stopped having the top selling console (funny that). And so without knowing the May results, it doesn’t really tell us much. The only thing we know is that it wasn’t enough to allow the Xbox One to beat the PS4, and Sony will be really pleased with that.

Nintendo are happy too because the Wii U sold 140,000 units, which is a 233% improvement compared to the same month last year. There seem to be a new air of optimism for the Wii U, following the release of the new Mario Kart game, but it will take some time to confirm whether the recent sales bump is a sustaining one.

So everyone with some good news to report in June!

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That’s all for this week. See you soon.

Weekly News Roundup (10 November 2013)

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

Another short one for you this week. This one is kind of my fault though. As you know, I’m the arbiter of what gets written up here, and that’s mostly based on personal interest (I believe this is what they refer to as journalism), and I just wasn’t really in a mood to be interested in much of anything this whole week. I think watching The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Never Let Me Go back to back may have been a real detriment to my mood for the whole week, especially given the order I watched them in.

Okay, enough word padding, here we go.

Copyright

What is that idiom again? Something about people who live in glass houses. Or to be precise, people who are part of a global online copyright crusade and how they should really make sure their own copyright house is in order before pointing fingers at everyone else. The fact that the websites of the RIAA and the BPI, the music industry’s two main copyright lobbyists, both appeared to have been guilty of a case of copyright abuse isn’t really the point, as the fault was minor at best (and it’s common enough). No, the point is that if you’re going to be so rigid and strict in your interpretation of copyright law, like the RIAA and BPI have done so many times in the past, then you better make sure you’re not living in that glass house.

I think copyright is a fluid thing. It exist for some pretty good reasons, but it definitely should not be interpreted in a fundamentalist manner. There are lots of examples of copyright abuse that is perfectly reasonable, and if anything, should be encouraged by the copyright holder, or at the very least, a blind eyed turned to it. For example, using copyrighted music in a YouTube video, for example, is copyright abuse by the standards of the law. And the rights holders have the right to take action. But if the video would ever only be viewed a couple of hundred times, does it really matter? Or if it is a funny take on an unrelated subject (which would then fail to make it protected under parody exemptions, as the parody’s subject matter has to be related to the copyrighted material), one which would never hurt the original’s chance at making money, who is actually being wronged there? Another example. A piece of music that never achieved popularity becomes part of an Internet meme, should you then go on a massive DMCA crackdown campaign, which is of course your right. As I said, copyright is fluid.

So if we can forgive the RIAA and BPI for their copyright trespasses, perhaps they can show a little bit more flexibility and compassion the next time their rights are infringed. That’s all we’re asking.

High Definition

This deal is getting worse all the time! Last week, it was the Sony bombshell that the PS4 won’t play audio CDs and MP3s, and won’t support DLNA. This week, Microsoft has confirmed that the Xbox One won’t play Blu-ray 3D films.

That in itself is not as big of a loss as say the lack of MP3 and in particular DLNA support. But it begs the question: why? There are tons of el-cheapo Blu-ray players that support 3D these days, is it really that much more costly for Microsoft to include 3D playback?

Blu-ray 3D Logo

The Xbox One can play Blu-ray films, but not 3D ones

The answer is probably a yes. Licensing and royalty payments means that, even at a couple of bucks for each Xbox One sold, it will still end up amounting to millions of dollars in the long run. If the demand is there, Microsoft might add support via a patch. If not, they can either ignore it or sell it as an add-on pack in the future.

Both consoles will be fighting to win the upcoming console war, and profitability (which affects pricing) will be key to victory.

While the PS4 and Xbox One are deciding which previous generation formats they will and won’t play, Netflix is going ahead with the next-gen. Seven 4K clips, each around 8 minutes, are already available for streaming on Netflix. The description of these clips say they’re an “example of 4K”, with each clip being at different framerates (24, 59.94, 29.97 …). One would supposedly need a 4K capable Netflix player (and a 4K TV) in order to play these clips at their stated resolutions.

DVD vs Blu-ray vs 4K

Netflix will have to weave a bit of bandwidth magic in order to make 4K work under current broadband limitations

So it looks like Netflix are serious about getting into 4K, something their CEO hinted at a couple of months ago. The testing done now will determine the likely bandwidth requirements, which will have to balance the need to provide a high quality 4K picture, along with a low enough bitrate to allow a greater number of households access to 4K.

It’s all very exciting (at least for video nerds like myself), but the overall feeling I have is that all these new exciting things are being held back by the current state of the Internet. Even as it is, web video services like Netflix and YouTube would be a lot more usable if they were coupled with an ultra speed broadband connection, one that can only be consistently offered by fiber-to-the-home connections at the moment (so speeds in excess of 100 Mbps, with 25 Mbps or higher upload speeds). That Netflix has to make sacrifices to quality for 4K, or even 1080p, proves that the Internet is just not fast enough (on average) at the moment.

That’s it for the week. I promise I’ll try to be less disinterested next week, which should ultimately mean more news stories. Until then, have a nice one.

Weekly News Roundup (25 September 2011)

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

Welcome to yet another edition of the WNR. Hope you’ve had a good week. It was mainly an uneventful week for me, except my graphics card broke early on the in the week, and so I had found the perfect excuse to do a little bit of upgrading. Faced with restrictions in budget, card length (my old Antec Sonata Designer case would only fit a card 23cm/9″ or less), power supply constraints (although my Antec EarthWatt 500W, with dual 17A rails on the 12V, is not the worst around), I eventually settled for a Radeon 6850, upgrading exactly +2,000 from my old Radeon 4850. While my Intel E8500 is now the bottleneck in certain games, it’s definitely great to be able to play most games at 1080p without having to turn down the details (or as in my old card’s case, all the way down to 1360×768 @ medium just so it doesn’t crash the faulty card). A quick, cheap, and not so nasty upgrade is sometimes a great way to give some life back to an old PC.

More than expected number of news items this week, so let’s get started.

Copyright

In copyright news, it’s hard to know where to begin. I guess we should start with the source of the problem, the money. More precisely, the money flowing into Washington and other capitals of the world, as the copyright lobby spends millions scaring politicians into believing  “net piracy plague” hype.

It was revealed this week that the MPAA spent $470,000 in lobbying in the last quarter alone, mainly to promote the hugely controversial PROTECT IP act, which if you’ve been following the WNR, you should already know that it has come under attack by a variety of professionals, from engineers, to entrepreneurs, to law professors. The idea of messing around with the foundation of the Internet, the domain naming system, just so the billion dollar movie industry can feel a little bit better, without actually solving any real problems, is I guess what these professionals are most concerned about. Basically, the MPAA has convinced politicians that the few harmless flies are actually killer bees, and that the only way to solve the problem is to launch a tactical nuclear strike (except in this analogy, the nuclear strike would probably solve the fly problem, whereas PROTECT IP won’t do anything to piracy).

What surprised me more was that, despite being only a fraction of the size of the movie industry, the music industry via its lobby group the RIAA actually spend almost three times as much money – $1.25M, in just one quarter. And somehow, this was still down on last year’s $1.4M, in the same quarter. Had the RIAA simply spend the money they’ve spent on lobbying and DRM, on actual innovation, they would have been the ones making the iPod and running iTunes, not Apple. Instead, they spend a million plus trying to get new legislation through that would allow labels to receive royalty from radio station airings – once upon a time, labels were happy to just get free airings for promotional purposes, but not any more I guess.

Rapidshare logo

RapidShare will hope its recent lobbying spending of $260,000 is enough to convince Washington politicians not to kill off the file sharing industry

The same story also showed some lobbying from the other side, specifically, by Rapidshare. If PROTECT IP passes, they have the most to lose, since they will probably be the first website to get filtered, after having appeared in all the copyright blacklists. There would be far too much collateral damage if lawmakers outlaw public file sharing, because while I do admit Rapidshare has its fair share of pirated files, it’s also an essential service for many others to share large files without having access to your own FTP server. I can’t see how you can have a public file sharing service without the problem of piracy cropping up, but it’s not as if Rapidshare doesn’t have tools for rights holders to get infringing files removed – it’s just that rights holders don’t want to have to do the work to get them removed. Automatic filters are easy to escape by real pirates, but makes false positives hard to avoid – think of the YouTube false positive copyright thing and times it by about 1,000, since at least with YouTube, some kind of audio/visual analysis could be performed, while it’s harder with generic files.

The world’s second most famous music pirate, Boston University student Joel Tenenbaum, is back in the news this week as the RIAA’s appeal of an earlier reduction in damages, to “only” $67,500, was rejected by the appellate court. But not because they supported the original jury rewarded $675,000, but because they thought that Judge Nancy Gertner has jumped to the constitutional issues  a bit too early in citing the reason for the reduction, when there were other legal recourse that should have been taken before going down this route. It appears that the appeals court agrees that $675,000 was inappropriate, and in their summary, even urged Congress to consider reducing the excessive statutory damages in relation to copyright infringement (but we’ll be lucky if Congress doesn’t do the opposite, and increase statutory damages). This is become a bigger issue, because back in the day, most copyright infringement lawsuits were related to commercial infringement, and so the statutory damages are relevant to those types of cases. Today, most copyright infringement cases relate to non commercial infringement, such as illegally downloading a 99 cent song for free, and so $150,000 per act of infringement doesn’t really fit the “crime” any more. A sensible copyright reform would introduce a new tier of penalties dealing specifically with non commercial infringement, because a fine of $150 per act is enough of a deterrent for those that actually fear the law on the matter (most don’t, even with $675,000 in damages as a potential outcome). And so for now, Tenenbaum faces $675,000 in damages again, which will of course be appealed.

But Boston University students aren’t the only ones having money trouble these days. Righthaven’s refusal to pay the $34,000 in legal fees it owns to Wayne Hoehn, possibly through lack of ability to pay, has forced Hoehn’s attorneys to petition the court to send US Marshals to seize Righthaven assets in response. Now that would be a beautiful sight to behold, wouldn’t it? Righthaven took the risk in trying to scare Hoehn into paying a settlement fee, only for Hoehn to refuse to lie down and fight his way to a win in court, and so it’s only fair that Righthaven should pay up. After all, they’re the ones who send letters threatening tens and hundreds of thousands in damages, if people don’t settle. They should have taken their own advice and settled, if they didn’t want to pay up (except I think the judge refused them the right to do so, heh).

Over to Europe right now, whose financial system should collapse any day now, but before then, there are some deck chair shuffling that needs to happen. In Italy, MPs from Berlusconi’s party (why is the guy still prime minster?) want to introduce the world’s first “one-strike” system, where people may get kicked off the Internet for just a single allegation of copyright infringement. Sometimes I think politicians are actually just using copyright as an excuse to kill off the Internet, as the Internet is  making it harder to rule against the wishes of the people. And also to hide your bunga bunga parties. You know what this is? It’s fascism. And we all know how Italians deal with fascists (well, eventually, anyway).

SFI Logo

The SFI's IP address being used for piracy should not be proof that the institute was engaged in piracy

On to Sweden, and the Swedish Film Institute has just gone through what hundreds and thousands of individuals have gone through, after the SFI was accused of pirating films because its IP address had been found in one of many BitTorrent swarms. It would be hard for the SFI to go with the “my router was hacked” excuse, because no hacking did occur, but because they operated a public Wi-Fi, and because the agency tasked with collection IP addresses aren’t cooperating with the SFI on the investigation, it has been extremely difficult for the SFI to find the source of the piracy. And if this doesn’t prove that an IP address does not equal the identity of the individual(s) who made the infringement, then nothing will. And if public Wi-Fi is now going to be the target of anti-piracy operations, then that’s taking a huge step backwards in terms of the Internet everywhere approach that we’ve become used to (and which many websites, like Facebook or FourSquare, rely on).

And this increasing perception gap between how the world works now, and how the copyright lobby/politicians want things to work, is probably why the German Pirate Party has won 15 seats in the Berlin regional elections. With their Swedish counterpart winning a seat in the EU parliament, pirate parties around the world could become the new Greens, as the issue of Internet privacy and rights become more and more important.

High Definition

In HD/3D news, next week should bring us the Star Wars numbers, an early signs show that it will be a big one. I’m a huge Star Wars nerd, having watched the originally trilogies at least 50 times altogether (and the new prequels trilogies about 6 times), but I’ve actually not pre-ordered the set. It’s not a protest at George Lucas or anything, but while Star Wars on DVD was a special moment for me, I’m a bit more meh about Star Wars on Blu-ray for some reason. Probably because, upscaled, the DVD edition still looks quite good, and from early reviews, while the Blu-ray version definitely looks better, the classic trilogies aren’t the “hi-defy” experience that many would be expecting. It’s not only the age of the film that the cause, but I think not going with a new transfer, given advances in technology since the last one, seems like a step backwards. Which is why I suspect we’ll get a new transfer in time for next year’s 3D version of the films, which means a new Blu-ray set (hopefully with the remastered films in 2D, as well as 3D), and so it’s hard to get too excited. I will still probably get it, I mean I got the LotR theatrical mess on Blu-ray.

Plus, I’m finding it difficult to get the time to watch movies these days, got a dozen or more on Blu-ray that’s still under shrink wrap.

For 3D news, this week, YouTube announced a new feature in which you can convert any existing or new uploaded 2D video to 3D. Cool if you like this sort of thing, but the 3D hype is definitely dying, and the 2D to 3D conversion could be the jump the shark moment for the format, because really, it’s an admission by YouTube that nobody is uploading any real 3D content.

GamingAnd finally in gaming, those that saw and agreed to the new PSN user agreement, without reading it (obviously didn’t watch that South Park episode), may realise that they’ve signed over more than they realised.

Sony apparently sneaked a clause which makes it a lot harder for people to join in one of the many class action lawsuit against Sony for the PSN data theft. Those that signed the agreement will have agreed to go through binding individual arbitration before being allowed to join any class action lawsuit, with a Sony appointed arbitrator. If you don’t sign the agreement, then you won’t be allowed to use PSN, but you can opt out of the arbitration only by sending a letter to Sony HQ detailing your wishes, and within 30 days of signing the original agreement, and of course, all of these details were “hidden” in the wordy user agreement. I’m not going to comment on whether this is an underhanded move by Sony or not, but all I will say is that this is exactly what you would expect from such a company, and probably why it’s such an attractive target for hackers.

Diablo III

Diablo III could be a great game, but Blizzard are doing all they can to ruin it with "always-on" DRM and MMO restrictions, without any of the MMO benefits, in the single player mode

Diablo III is an eagerly awaited game, and Blizzard has a great reputation as a game producer. But the company’s insistence on using always-on DRM, they say for anti-cheating purposes, not anti-piracy, could really hurt their reputation, not to mention sales of the game. A recent play of the beta version seems to show a lot of quirks related to the always-on DRM, including the inability to pause games, and game glitches whenever the connection goes down (and it went down a lot, thanks to the flaky beta Blizzard servers), and eventually users get  thrown back to the main menu, losing unsaved progress. Hopefully, the final version will not be as “crippled”, but without adding in a true offline mode, Blizzard is always going to set themselves up to fail. The good news is that there’s still a lot of time between now and the game’s release, so enough public pressure could make Blizzard do the right thing.

And that’s all that was for the week. I’m off to play Starcraft 2 in 1080p, extreme quality mode (which is more than playable at 50/60 FPS on my new 6850, at least when the on screen unit count isn’t too high). See you next week.