Archive for the ‘DVD’ Category

Weekly News Roundup (5 June 2016)

Sunday, June 5th, 2016

I’m really enjoying the current season of Game of Thrones. It’s moving along rather quickly, perhaps as a result of not having to follow the books anymore. There’s also the obligatory shocking plot twist, senseless violence, and of course, the nudity (both female and the “in your face” male variety). More on the latter, later in the roundup.

A good amount of stuff to go through today (although technically, all of them are copyright stories), so let’s go for it.

Copyright

Porn. There, I got your attention. Game of Thrones. Bang, you’re now even more interested. Mix the two together and what you have? A lawsuit! HBO is taking on porn video site Pornhub over illegally uploaded clips from Got, and given the nature of Pornhub, you can guess which clips those were.

Game of Thrones - Shae

HBO going after porn sites

Pornhub have nobody but themselves to blame though, because they’re the ones who brought attention to the fact that Game of Thrones related porn searches rise dramatically just before the start of a new GoT season. Pornhub proudly publicized this fact, along with a list of the most popular GoT related keywords, only last month, and with HBO in the mood to take on pirates, the expected has happened. HBO is now taking legal action to get those clips removed.

And in case you’re interested in what the top GoT related keywords were, the top one was ‘Emilia Clarke’ (strange, considering how she doesn’t like to do nude scenes anymore, one episode this season apart), followed by ‘Natalie Dormer’ (who plays Queen Margaery). One name that may not be surprising is ‘Sibel Kekilli’, who played Tyrion Lannister’s one time love interest Shae. It isn’t surprising because not only did Sibel take part in several nude scenes, she is also a former porn actress with her previous works available to view on Pornhub. The Game of Thrones producers often cast porn actors and actresses in roles that require nudity or a sex scene (or a dozen), so the connection to sites like Pornhub seems quite natural to me.

And in case you were wondering, yes, there were also some searches for Jon Snow.

High Definition

Deadpool on Ultra HD Blu-ray

The Ultra HD Blu-ray version of Deadpool failed to make a huge impact

A new study shows that delaying disc releases in overseas markets may be causing piracy and sales losses. That’s not so surprising, but what is surprising is that the study may have been funded by MPAA money, and so the conclusion that studios themselves are sometimes to blame for piracy is indeed surprising.

There is definitely a strong moral component to the decision to pirate or not. And if people feel justified in doing it, because studios, in their infinite greed, decided to put in artificial release windows, then that justification will simply drive piracy. The same applies to outrageous regional based pricing, region control, and all the other things that studios do to squeeze some extra money out of a release.

Speaking of studios squeezing money out of us poor consumers, their latest effort in trying to make us re-buy everything again, Ultra HD Blu-ray, is off to a start. I can’t say it’s off to a great start because there was an opportunity to really lift the format a few weeks ago, and it didn’t really happen. I’m talking about Deadpool and how, being one of the biggest Blu-ray titles of the year, it was also made available on Ultra HD Blu-ray at the same time. Unfortunately, only 3.28% of all disc copies (or when removing DVDs from the equation, 4.6% of all Blu-ray copies) sold were for the 4K version of the film. I guess it’s still early days for the format, and hardly anyone has the TV or the UHD player for the discs, but I think it’s going to take a really long time before UHD discs start to make a real impact.

Gaming

GOG Connect

Get DRM-free copies of some of your Steam games – I managed to only get 3 games myself

Want a free DRM-free copy of some of your Steam games? Then head over to GOG Connect, and you may get just what you want. GOG is giving away free, and DRM-free, copies of selected Steam games, and all you have to do is to import your Steam game list into your GOG account, and the free copies will be added to your account. Your Steam games remain the same as before, except you’ve also got a DRM-free version on GOG that will never expire, and will always be playable.

GOG is making this happen by negotiating with these games’ developers, which means they are the one that may be paying for this transfer. As a result, this is strictly a limited time offer, and there are also only 23 games supported so far (mostly indie hits, but some commercial ones including Saints Row 2 and GOG’s own The Witcher).

This is great, but what I would like to see is game publishers guaranteeing that all who buy the game will get a DRM-free version of it some set time after the game’s release. If you buy something, then you should get to use it for as long as you need, and not as long as the publishers deems necessary (ie. when it cost them too much to maintain the DRM).

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And with that, we come to the end of another issue. See you next week.

Weekly News Roundup (31 January 2016)

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

With any luck, I’ll have the first part of my epic PC building guide out on my blog this week, the first part will cover picking and buying of the parts needed for a system, sharing some of my own learned experience on the issue (like how to do price comparisons, check for compatibility, reviews …). The actual build was finished earlier in the week (very good fun, if you must know), but I haven’t had time to tweak and tune the system yet, let alone overclock. In the meantime, here’s a couple of PC build porn pics for you to enjoy.

PC Build - Innards

PC Build – Innards

PC Build - Outards

PC Build – Outards

Oh yes, we have news to cover, don’t we?

Copyright

Australia's Internet Filter

EFF warns of new plans to filter everything on the Internet

The EFF is on the warpath again, this time protecting all of us Internet users from the latest short-sighted plans by content-holders to remove piracy from the Internet. Instead of the current DMCA system, rights-holders wants a new one that puts the onus on the likes of Google to keep pirated content from being found.

Under the current take-down system, rights-holders have to specifically provide each and every URL to be removed. This game of copyright whack-a-mole has proven extremely ineffective, and so rights-holders have devised a new plan – get Google to do everything! Instead of providing the URL, rights-holders only want to identify the actual content being pirated (eg. the movie “The Hateful Eight”) and they want Google and others to identify and remove all related piracy links for said content. So Google’s copyright policing role expands to being ongoing, perpetual detectives, in a never ending search for pirated links.

For obvious reasons, Google don’t want to do this, and why should they? A search engine should not be responsible for content that it has no control over, and it should not be tasked with identifying the legality of a piece of content that it has no legal claim on. Only the rights-holders really know what and what doesn’t belong to them, and so it’s their responsibility to identify and submit URLs for removal.

And it’s not as if these same rights-holders have no responsibility when it comes to piracy – in fact, some of their inaction may be directly responsible for the stuff being uploaded online, including most of this and last season’s Oscar nominated movies.

Pirated Movies For Sale

Hollywood has been supplying pirates with the best movies of the year, thanks leaks of DVD screeners

A Variety report has confirmed what we’ve all long suspected, that Hollywood really doesn’t like new technology, specifically digital. This is why they are still using snail mail to send DVD screeners to award voters, the same screeners that habitually get leaked and uploaded online. But Hollywood still doesn’t like to do screeners digitally. Why? Because, apparently, they think that the 1% chance of digital screeners being copied and distributed illegally is not a chance worth taking (they much prefer the 99% chance that DVD screeners have of getting leaked, I guess?).

The other reason they don’t like digital screeners is also symptomatic of Hollywood’s slow embrace of all things digital, at least when compared to tech companies. Hollywood execs don’t like digital screeners because there does not exist a single platform that will support every studio’s digital screeners. It’s actually the same problem we as consumers face, and Hollywood studio greed has been the reason why every studio has their own convoluted way to play UltraViolet content (WB has Flixter, Sony has Sony Pictures Store, Fox and Disney don’t even use UltraViolet), as opposed to just supporting one of the major platforms (like iTunes, Android Play and whatever thing Microsoft uses).

So stuck with the irrational fear of digital piracy, and the slowness in embracing the new, I guess it’s going to be DVD screeners for a while longer still. Come January 2017, I’ll be keeping an eye out for the DVD screener leaks of that year’s award contenders.

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I get most of my new music from Spotify, and if that fails (or if my significant other wants to listen to Taylor Swift … oh alright, if *I* want to listen to Taylor Swift), then it’s a quick hop to YouTube. But what if you could combine the best of both worlds, a Spotify like interface that let’s you listen to music sourced from YouTube music videos? Too good to be true? It is.

At least, it is from a legal point of view. New start-up Wefre‘s dream of turning this to reality has quickly turned into a nightmare, part of it because they underestimated how popular this thing could be, but also mainly because they failed to understand the basics of copyright on the Internet: if music labels aren’t getting big money from it, you’re doing it wrong!

Wefre, now “temporarily” suspended only two weeks after launch, was doomed to fail from the beginning. It’s creators failed to see just how rights-holders, and YouTube, might not like what they were doing with the legally uploaded music videos (what they did probably breaks YouTube’s terms of service anyway), and probably also failed to remember you can’t just copy Spotify’s interface without repercussions. Still, despite Spotify’s existence, there still seems to be a wanting of a way to freely stream music, all the music (I’m looking at you Taylor Swift). So those in the industry will have to constantly battle tools like Wefre, or they do the proper thing and just let Spotify have everything (which is a good thing for everyone involved).

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Gotta get back to watching the tennis now, plus doing more writing on the PC build guide. Have a great week!

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 (15 November 2015)

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

First things first. Our hearts and thoughts are with all of those affected by the tragic events in Paris. It’s times like this that makes you truly reflect what’s important in your life, and makes you appreciated all the little things that make life a simple joy. As for what happens now, I really don’t know, but I do hope that we start discussing the tough questions, the ones about why it has become too easy for young people to want to be, and to actually be radicalized, and also to seriously examine what the best course of action is when you’re fighting an enemy that’s mostly just an idea. An insidious, evil idea, that somehow has become far too attractive for far too many.

It’s hard to still consider anything that I usually write here important after the events in Paris, but we all have to continue doing what we have to do, what we want to do, to continue to love, to show compassion, to be kind and understanding – that’s how we show those that want to divide us that they will never win.

Copyright

Privacy

There’s no room for privacy concerns according to the MPAA

Now, I’ve written a lot over the years about the piracy issue. From time to time, when I’m especially tired or drunk or both, I accidentally write ‘privacy’ instead of piracy. So instead of writing “The MPAA hates piracy”, I might write “The MPAA hates privacy”. Fortunately, this is now much less of a problem because the MPAA now also hates privacy (not a typo).

Those pesky Europeans and their privacy laws that protect their citizen’s rights, are giving the MPAA a headache when it comes to going after the pirates. The MPAA made the complaint to the USTR, something they do every year to let the US Trade Representative know all the things that annoy Hollywood around the world. But the EU’s new directives that adds extra privacy protection to IP addresses and the removal of mandatory data retention, means that the MPAA now has to work a lot harder to get what they want. Just exactly what that is, I’m not sure, because it sounds like the MPAA is mad they’re no longer able to go after individual downloaders, but that has never worked to stop piracy, and to be fair, the MPAA has never engaged in this kind of legal activity. If they wanted to go after the piracy site operators, then they already have the tools to do that (see the Popcorn Time/YIFY story last week).

So basically, it’s just the MPAA trying to blame someone or something else for their woes. Something they’ll do again this time next year.

High Definition

DVD vs Blu-ray vs 4K

4K is gaining momentum, but discs are on the slide

Moving on to digital video stuff, it appears that sales of Ultra HD TVs have gotten off to a good start, despite the relatively small amount of available Ultra HD/4K content.

(While I’m here, I would just like to further clarify the differences between the term “Ultra HD”, which is more of a marketing term, and 4K. 4K refers to 4000 horizontal pixels of resolution, most commonly available in the resolution 4096 x 2160. Ultra HD is actually just shy of 4K, in the more accessible 16:9 resolution of 3840 x 2160 – basically double both the horizontal and vertical resolution of 1080p. The more you know!)

There definitely doesn’t seem to be the kind of price premium you usually associated with new tech that’s with 4K TV (I managed to pick up one, albeit a budget crappy one, for less than $300 just recently), and while the much needed content hasn’t yet arrived in disc form, it’s already available via streaming.

And that’s exactly the problem facing discs at the moment, with the latest Q3 home entertainment earnings report showing that, for the first time ever, revenue from streaming has risen above that for packaged media. In fact, almost everything related to digital was on the up, while almost everything related to packaged media was on the slide.

When everything was added up together, total revenue was little changed, which just goes to show that the transition seems to be going smoothly.

Gaming

Xbox One Halo 5 Edition

Halo 5 has helped the Xbox One beat the PS4 in October

The October NPD results are in and once again the PS4 was the best .. wait a second, that’s not what actually happened. The Xbox One has finally managed to break the PS4’s winning streak by becoming October’s best selling console in the US market. The win was largely due to the release of Halo 5, a Xbox exclusive that always helps to drive console sales. With Forza Motorsport 6, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, and with backwards compatibility and a major dashboard update all coming, there’s definitely some momentum building for the Xbox One. Microsoft will be hoping that these new additions in these established franchises, and the BC, will help convince the huge number of Xbox 360 owners who haven’t upgraded to upgrade.

While I’m here, I guess I also have to mention Fallout 4, considering my preoccupation/obsession with the previous game in the series. I haven’t played the game yet, haven’t even purchased it (other than the Xbox One Pip-Boy edition in order to get the Pip-Boy – the PS4 and PC editions were sold out when I found out about it, so I had to make do with the Xbox One edition even though I don’t own a Xbox One) – I will do both when I get some free time, and if I managed to get more free time, I might even play it on my brand new dream gaming PC that I plan to build from scratch (a side project that I’ve been eyeing for some time now).

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That’s it for the week. See you next week.