Archive for the ‘DVD’ Category

Weekly News Roundup (6 July 2014)

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

Welcome to this week’s WNR. It’s another short one, and while the caliber of news stories is ultimately to blame, the lack of sleep I’m experiencing due to the World Cup cannot be discounted as a factor. It looks like my prediction last week has proved to be 100% correct, with the four teams I mentioned all making the semi-finals (even if it was by the skin of their collective teeth). In fact, I think I’ve managed to predict the result (but not the score) of all of the matches from the knock-out stage onwards (which is how I came up with the Brazil vs Germany, Netherlands vs Argentina semi-final line-up). I did not put money where my mouth is, unfortunately, because I don’t believe in betting and also because I’m an idiot.

Further proof that I’m an idiot comes from the fact that I nearly forgot to mention that this past Thursday was Digital Digest’s 15th anniversary, having been launched on the 4th of July in 1999. Having totally forgot about it until Wednesday night (I’m not in the US, so it’s not like I was bombarded with 4th of July stuff to remind me), I’ve only remembered it just now as I was about to hit the “Publish” button on this post. Anyway, here’s the obligatory Digital Digest in History photo album you can have a look at to see what Digital Digest looked like through the ages, including when it first launched in 1999 (check out the snazzy design!).

Alright, the news.


Following last week’s copyright smack-down by Australian ISP executive Steve Dalby, Dalby was again on the attack this week when he took part in a Reddit AMA. Speaking in reference to the Australian pay TV monopoly owned by Foxtel, and the company’s deal with HBO to lock-up Game of Thrones from all other outlets (including iTunes), Dalby says that Foxtel is “on borrowed time”.

Dalby says reports prepared by rights holders about Australia’s piracy habits are “BS”, and says that Foxtel’s pricing (which is “447% of the price previously charged by iTunes”) is more to blame for people choosing not to pay. “Making content available in a timely, affordable away will go a long way to tapping into the Australian willingness to pay for legitimate content,” Dalby says.

HBO Logo

HBO much less worried about GoT piracy than almost everyone else

So what does HBO have to say about all of this? Surprisingly little. CNET spoke to HBO’s VP and GM Sofia Chang at the Game of Thrones exhibit in Sydney, and Chang’s comments were diplomatic, to say the least.

“Unfortunately, with this type of popularity comes this type of activity. However, I’ll say that in Australia you have one of the most liberal windows in terms of when it’s made available on the network and then when it’s made available on digital download,” Chang said.

“So, for example, with season four — the finale was on June 16, and on June 17 we made it available on Google Play and our other digital platforms.”

Make of that what you will. From what I read, it’s HBO’s way of saying that they’re happy with the current Foxtel-monopoly arrangement, and they don’t really care that it is causing record piracy for the show in Australia. Basically, HBO has a premium pricing model in which they rely on a small percentage of users to pay a high price for their content, knowing full well this leads to increased piracy. It works for them, and they know they can’t really complain too much about piracy given that this is the business model they’ve chosen. And HBO’s past comments have reflected their stand on the issue.

In other copyright news, hackers in Argentina have responded to the country’s banning of The Pirate Bay website by hacking and turning the website of a music industry group into a fully functioning Pirate Bay proxy site. The site operated for a full 10 hours before it was eventually taken down.

And over in Switzerland, draft legislation could see pirated downloads from cyberlockers made legal, but BitTorrent (which has an upload component) becoming illegal. Site blocking could also happen as part of sweeping changes in a bid to modernize the country’s copyright laws.

High Definition

The digital transition gathers pace as Sweden, thanks to its super-awesome broadband, may be the first country in the world where digital video spending overtakes that of physical media.

According to the estimates of Futuresource Consulting, 2014 is when digital spending for video content in Sweden will top €153 million ($209 million). This compares to to the €146 million ($199 million) estimate for packaged media, which has fallen dramatically in recent years. With digital music already accounting for 75% of sales, when it was only 25% a couple of years ago, it seems digital video will be heading the same way, and not just in Sweden.

Release windows will help to artificially keep discs and subscription TV alive for the time being, and there will always be those (like myself) that still like to buy movies on discs, but it’s clear what direction consumers want distributors to head in. With Netflix maybe coming to Australian soon, it will be interesting to see what kind of effect it has on our one and only subscription TV provider.

Amazon, Netflix and Hulu Plus

Amazon, Netflix and Hulu Plus – which comes out on top for content?

While Australians are un-spoilt for lack of choice, it’s a different situation over in the US where Netflix, Amazon and Hulu Plus are all desperately trying to grab and hold onto market share. While Netflix has a huge lead in terms of the number of subscribers, the race to have the best content is a tighter affair. US based investment bank Piper Jaffray & Co has analysed the content being offered by these major streaming providers, and found that, at least for the top rated movies, Netflix was still on top.

For TV shows, Hulu Plus with its TV catch-up origins still has a clear lead (57% of the top 75 series from the last TV season, compared to Netflix’s 20% and Amazon’s 9%). But for movies, Netflix’s 12% of top 50 box office movies compares favorably to Amazon’s 6% (Hulu Plus is way back, with just 1%).

While Netflix has been concentrating on original content, Amazon has been desperately trying to sign up to deals with networks like Fox and CBS to get shows like ’24’ and ‘Under the Dome’. So expect the see the gap narrow over the next few years. Of course, here in Australia, we’d be happy just to have Netflix, but rumors suggest that Amazon and Hulu Plus may not be far behind either.


Well, that actually went longer than I thought it would be. Hope you enjoyed reading, and see you next week.


Weekly News Roundup (11 August 2013)

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Welcome to the latest edition of the WNR, filled with the copyright, high def and gaming goodness that you know and love. Nothing much new to update from my end. I ordered a Chromecast a few weeks back from Amazon (to ship it to Australia via one of those relay shippers), but alas, the lack of stock is becoming a bit frustrating. I’ve received numerous notices from Amazon about the shipping date, giving me all sorts of different information, so who know when I’ll get one. Not that it’s of that much use to me in Australia, since the built-in Netflix support appears to used hard-wired DNS settings, which rules out geo-unblocker services until the device can be hacked or an easy workaround found (which I’ll definitely write about on streambly if/when it is found). Anyway, the news.

CopyrightNot this again. I guess the Obama administration has run out of things to do, now that it’s commerce department is again trying to revive one of the most controversial parts of the very controversial SOPA bill – to make unauthorized streaming a felony.

Megaupload's Mega Song was blocked on YouTube by UMG

Getting your video removed by YouTube could be the least of your worries, under new plans that could make the offense a felony

If all of this sounds familiar, then it’s because it is. Check out this WNR from November 2011, in which the same issue was discussed due to an independent piece of legislation urging for the same (which was then rolled up into the mega monstrosity that was SOPA and PIPA). The obsession that the creative industries, via their political lackeys, have with the whole streaming/felony thing comes down to the fact that unauthorized reproduction and distribution of copyrighted works is counted as a felony, whereas public performances (such as streaming) is only counted as a misdemeanor. This is the discrepancy that all these various proposals attempt to address, to uniformize (I’ve been assured that this is an actual word) and to unify the differences . I guess it must be an OCD thing.

While I do agree that many of the people posting soul destroying covers of what was once a great song should indeed be locked up, I’m not sure that copyright infringement should be the main reason for doing so. I will also note that this is the same administration that is defending the unauthorized reproduction, distribution and streaming of every conversation that everyone has ever had (where’s my damn copyright protection?), and that these changes may see YouTubers get harsher sentences than the people who destroyed the global financial system.

Technological solutions to piracy don’t usually work well, but when they are capable of causing collateral damage, they become dangerous. That’s what copyright news website TorrentFreak found out this week when their website was blocked by Sky UK’s court mandated piracy filter using a flaw that can allow virtually any website to be blocked.

Apparently, when an already blocked website, such as TV torrent indexer EZTV, changes their DNS settings to point to another IP address (regardless of whether the IP address actually belongs to the website or not), Sky’s system automatically adds the new IP address to the list of blocked addresses. This means that EZTV could in fact add Google’s IP addresses to their DNS, and Sky’s system will block access to Google for its four million customers.

This is what happens when you replace due process with an automated system, a badly programmed one at that. Even the full legal system with its due process is by no means infallible to unjust outcomes, but one where there is zero accountability and legal recourse was always bound to fail, with or without a serious flaw like this one. Technology can improve efficiency if used correctly, but taking legal short cuts is not making the process more efficient, just more flawed.

High Definition

Blu-ray and digital revenue is helping to offset the decline in DVD sales and rental revenue, according to new data released by the DEG. While packaged media sales declined by an alarming 13% in the second quarter of 2013, compared to the same quarter a year ago, overall revenue remained relatively steady.

Netflix Blu-ray Rentals

Netflix’s streaming business is booming, while its disc rental business is in a steady decline

This is largely due to Blu-ray sales again showing double digit growth, 15% in the first six months of 2013 compared to the first half of 2012; and also digital revenue rising by an impressive 24% in the same period (with electronic sellthroughs up an amazing 50%). Subscription based Internet streaming was a particular highlight within the digital umbrella, with spending up 32.13%.

For Blu-ray, sales of new releases was up 19%, compared to only 8% for catalog/classic releases.

Rental revenue continues to decline, by 5.5% for the first half of 2013. So while Netflix streaming was growing by 30%+, its disc rental business was most likely in a relatively steep decline, as subscription rental revenue for the whole industry declined by 21%.

The same data also showed that 5 million new Blu-ray players were sold in the first half of 2013, bringing the total number households with at least one Blu-ray players in the U.S. to 61 million.

In short, Blu-ray, digital good; DVD, rental bad.


The Xbox One received a much needed boost, literally, this week as Microsoft officially revealed that the Xbox One’s GPU speed has been upped from 800MHz to 853MHz. This 6.6% performance boost gets the Xbox One’s performance a little bit closer to the PS4, but the PS4 still looks set to easily be the more powerful machine.

Pure GPU shader throughput on the PS4 is still expected to be nearly 40% greater than that of the Xbox One, even after this latest GPU speed bump. And this is despite the Xbox One being $100 dearer than the PS4 at launch, but most of that is due to the inclusion of Kinect 2.0 with every console.

Xbox One Forza 5

Xbox One’s GPU speed increased to close the gap on the PS4

On paper, this seems to give the PS4 a huge advantage when it comes to the game’s visual quality; but in reality, developers of multi-platform games tend to go with the lowest common denominator, as opposed to doing extra work (which costs extra $$$) on one particular platform to leverage its hardware advantage. But as developers become more accustomed to working on both consoles, they might begin to find less resource consuming ways to get the best out of the PS4, and so expect later stage PS4 games to look better than their Xbox One counterparts. And of course, PS4 exclusives will be able to take advantage much earlier on.

I’m 80% certain at this point that I probably won’t buy an Xbox One, not until it’s a bit cheaper at the very least. At the same time, I’m maybe 80% certain that I will own a PS4 before I own an Xbox One. Microsoft’s DRM snafu; the price difference; and the hardware superiority, the latter two being in favor of the PS4, is what is largely responsible for my stance.

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

Weekly News Roundup (21 April 2013)

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Plenty to go through in this downer of a week, so let’s not waste any time …


Is it still going on? Apparently, yes. Viacom is still suing Google’s YouTube for copyright infringement, despite a 2010 court ruling throwing out the case via a summary judgement in favor of Google/YouTube. That decision was appealed, partially successfully, and the case was directed back to the lower courts. But once again, Judge Louis Stanton has ruled in favor of Google, arguing that YouTube was under the protection of the DMCA’s Safe Harbor provision. And guess what? Viacom is going to appeal this decision too.

It’s all getting quite boring now, to be honest. The two companies are actually working side by side these days, so only Viacom knows what the point of the lawsuit is at the moment. That Viacom is still not letting go is probably more face saving than an actual sense of feeling wronged, and whatever YouTube has done in the past, what it does now (in terms of what users do with the service, and what YouTube does for content holders) is so far removed from what went on before, it’s practically like suing a different website.

Just move on Viacom. Everybody’s bored already, including  the judges, and probably your shareholders as well. Concentrate on actually making content that people want to pay for, instead of blaming everyone else for your woes.

Speaking of things that people actually want to pay for, Netflix’s plan to fight off its old and new subscription-VOD competitors appears to be working, as its original programming has helped the company to gain new subscribers. But it’s Netflix’s old business, the DVD (and Blu-ray) rental one, that is now becoming a risk for the company, an analyst has warned.

Photo of Netflix on iPad

Netflix’s growth is dependent on revenue from its disc based business, but with that shrinking, Netflix may be at risk says analyst

While Netflix has over 29 million streaming subscribers, 64% of the company’s 2013 revenue is still expected to come from disc based subscribers. In other words, disc rentals are funding Netflix’s streaming expansion plans, and with disc revenue expected to continue to fall, it could endanger Netflix’s plan to expand to more locations around the world, as well as fund new original programs.

If anything, it seems Netflix’s current problem stem from the fact that it’s too good for its price of $7.99 per month. Compare to say HBO, who can get away with $15 per month for only a few hit shows, Netflix, now with original programming, offers much more (and an essential babysitting tool for any parent or guardian). The increasing cost of securing rights to shows and movies, and increasing competition from the likes of Amazon and Redbox, all means that Netflix is still over-reliant on its declining disc based business to keep the company profitable and in expansion mode.

Subscription VOD is currently stuck with the low cost model first pioneered by Netflix, but I suspect going forward, there will need to be tweaks to the pricing model. Perhaps we’ll see an introduction to a “premium” subscription tier that includes more fresh and original content than the “basic” $7.99 package, and that may be needed to offset the billions Netflix currently spends on licensing and production.

And who wouldn’t pay another $5 or even $10 per month if it meant they could watch new seasons of shows like House of Cards and Arrested Development?


It didn’t incite as much hatred as SOPA, but CISPA may be just as bad, and unfortunately, the US House of Reps passed it with an overwhelming majority on Thursday. The CISPA cybersecurity bill will enable private business to share all your most private information with any government agency that requests it, and allows warrant-less database searches. Emails, photos and even passwords could all be shared with government agencies against your will, and there’s nothing you can do about it – CISPA ensure this.

Typically, supporters of this overreaching bill says that it’s targeting terrorists not ordinary citizens, and Rep. McCaul of Texas drove home this point even more clearly by actually using the terrible events in Boston as justification for CISPA.

But unlike SOPA, there isn’t the united front against CISPA that can work together to kill it off before it becomes law. For one, the likes of Apple, Google and Yahoo are cautiously supporting CISPA, despite opposition from the likes of the EFF and the ACLU. At least this time, the White House seems to be on our side, with President Obama threatening to veto the bill in its current form, and the Senate, having already turned away a previous version of CISPA once before, may have something to say about it too.


Sony says they’re not going to make the same mistakes they made with their PS3 launch, and will launch the PS4 at a good price.

A photo of the New Xbox 360

Could a cheaper Xbox 360 keep the console alive when the Xbox 720 and PS4 (also to be cheaper at launch) arrives?

The PS3 was launched at a price that was a lot higher than that of rival consoles at the time (in Australia, the launch price of the 60GB console was close to the $USD 900 mark). This was despite Sony still losing money on each console sold. The reason for the high price was the included Blu-ray drive, and Sony argued that since Blu-ray players were quite expensive at the time, the PS3 actually represented good value for those also looking for a Blu-ray player.

This move paid off by ensuring Blu-ray won the highly tedious HD wars, but the victory came at the cost of lost market share to the likes of Nintendo and Microsoft. It also ensured Sony lost a ton of money for the first few years of the PS3.

But with Blu-ray players worth almost nothing these days (saw one today advertised for $USD 40), there aren’t any reasons why the PS4’s price point should be any higher than that of its rivals.

Although it could still be a lot higher than that of the Xbox 360, as Microsoft may be releasing a $99 version of the console to be launched along with the Xbox 720. It may be a response to the Xbox 720’s lack of backwards compatibility, but it could also be a move on Microsoft’s part to add new customers for the console. It might target those that want it as a cheap media streamer, with the added bonus of heaps of games of all types, from the casual/family to the hardcore. The only thing better than it would be a $99 PS3 (hint, hint)!

The cheap Xbox 360 and the cheaper (on debut) PS4 should help lift video game sales, but for now, things are still stuck in the doldrums. The March 2013 NPD US video game sales data has been released, and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 was top of the consoles with 261,000 units solds, but still down nearly 30% compared to a year ago. I actually want to wait a bit to see if any more data emerges for the Wii U in particular before commenting further on March’s NPD results, so let’s talk about it next week.

And that’s it for this edition of the WNR. See you next week.

Weekly News Roundup (23 December 2012)

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

The fact that you’re still reading this means that the world did not end. I for one feel disappointed. All that hype for nothing. Or maybe I was just disappointed that I actually had to write this WNR, although I guess between doing this and post-apocalyptic scrounging for canned goods all the while on the lookout for cannibals, this wins out. Slightly.

Maybe because people were too busy stockpiling supplies of toilet paper, long life milk and batteries, news was a bit light this week. So we should get through this pretty quickly, so you can get back to last minute frantic holiday shopping, or back to ignoring your relatives.


The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has finally released their annual “notorious markets” list, listing all the best places where you can get your piracy fix, or something like that. Actually, it’s a list of copyright do-no-gooders, which is supposed to shame them into doing something or another. Or rather, it shames the governments of the countries that these websites or physical markets are located in.

No surprises really, with The Pirate Bay and isoHunt leading the BitTorrent indexer category. Also unsurprisingly, Megaupload and Demonoid does not grace this year’s list – other cyberlocker websites, including Rapidgator, Putlocker and the Ukraine based, are still listed.


Netflix has done more to fight video piracy than the closure of Megaupload

I like how the document goes into great detail about the successes during year, most notably the Megaupload thing, but there’s hardly a mention of any positive effects in terms of trade and revenue, which is the whole point behind anti-piracy and counterfeiting, isn’t it? It’s been nearly a year since Megaupload was shuttered and the whole file hosting industry was shaken to its core, yet has anything really changed?

Spotify and Netflix seems to have far more effective at reducing piracy and increasing revenue than the closures of LimeWire and Megaupload respectively.


It took a while, and after a lot of threatening letters and whatnot, Warner Bros. and Intel (well, Intel’s daughter company Digital Content Protection) have finally launched a full scale lawsuit against a company that makes a HDCP circumvention device.

Some backgrounder on HDCP – it is the copy protection used in HDMI cables. Without a successful “handshake” between two HDCP compliant devices, video and audio functions via the cable will cease to function. If you’ve ever had a problem with a HDMI input not showing anything, and a problem that was fixed by restarting one or both of the devices involved, then HDCP was the culprit.

HDMI Cable

Is Hollywood really worried about people copying movies via HDMI cables?

Early DVI inputs did not support HDCP, and so many legacy devices (such as monitors, TVs, projectors) could not be made to work with newer devices that mandated the use of HDCP. HDCP is also responsible for preventing HDMI to component/VGA conversion. That is unless you manage to circumvent HDCP, which isn’t as hard as it sounds since it was successfully cracked back in 2010. And so a range of devices went on the market that finally allowed those still with HDCP-less DVI or component only devices to work with newer HDMI only ones, or to record things like PS3 gaming footgage for review or walkthroughs. I specifically won’t mentioned using HDCP-less HDMI to copy Blu-ray or DVD  movies, because nobody in their right mind would do this when there are far simpler solutions around.

Anyway, Warner and Intel have threatened to sue on many occasions, but if I’m not mistaken, this is the first time they’ve decided to actually take the next step. The company being sued is Freedom USA, an Ohio based company that manufacturers several such devices under the brands SIIG, SABRENT and CE Labs.

Of course, the fair use argument is strong in this case, in that an argument can be made that the primary use of these devices isn’t for copyright infringement (again, there are far easier ways to copy Blu-ray or DVD without having to record via a hacked HDMI stream), but to allow the use of legacy devices. How Warner Bros. and Intel can prove that Freedom USA’s devices were used to infringe the copyrights owned by Warner Bros., I just don’t know. Just because a device could be used in that way, doesn’t mean it is commonly used that way, or is the reason why people buy it. I suppose the argument could be made that cable shows are being recorded this way, but even with HDCP uncracked, analog copies can still be made easily by anyone with a semi-decent PC capture card.

High Definition

Remember when Walmart debuted their “disc to digital” program, and you had to bring your DVDs or Blu-ray to the store so you get the “privilege” to pay $2 to $5 for the SD or HD version of the film on VUDU? The service even stamps on some kind of ink on your disc as to ensure you don’t try to cheat them and try to use the same disc to buy multiple version of the digital copies.

Others simply ripped their DVD and Blu-ray with free software, with no need for fees or invisible ink, or even a car trip to the store.

Seeing the gap between these two consumer friendly/unfriendly extremes, Best Buy has started beta testing a way for consumers to do the disc to digital conversion at home. Users can pay a similar amount to get a UltraViolet version of their existing DVD film, or pay a little bit more to “upgrade” to the HD version, with 3,500 titles currently supported. Blu-ray discs are currently not supported though.

CinemaNow Disc to Digital

Convert your DVDs to UltraViolet digital copies using CinemaNow Disc to DIgital

So no car trip, and no need for invisible ink (are they really worried people are gonna pass around the same disc just to trick the store into accepting their $2 or $5, for a SD version that’s probably not even worth that much anyway). Still not as easy as ripping your own discs, but at least you do get a cloud hosted downloadable or streaming version that some may find more convenient than having to lug an external HDD around all the time.

I would never pay just so I can get a digital copy of a film I already own. I might buy the Blu-ray edition that comes with a UltraViolet copy, but I still prefer discs for the movies/shows that I like, and for the rest, I can probably rely on one of the subscription VOD services. I end up spending less on movies every year, and still end up watching more this way. Which is the way it should be.

And that’s it for the week. Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or just a nice, relaxing (yeah right) few days off. See you next week, unless nothing happens during the week (a high probability).

Weekly News Roundup (28 October 2012)

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

So Windows 8 has been released. Having used the OS for a whole of zero minutes, I can offer my expert opinion that it is indeed a new version of Windows that offers some differences to the previous version, but also that some things remains the same. There are apparently quite a few good things in it, as well as some bad, and that if you really want it, you can get it by paying money for it. So that’s my 15 second review, hope it was very helpful!

If that wasn’t so helpful, then perhaps I can be a little bit more helpful with what you’re actually here for – the weekly news review. Let’s get started.


The Finnish arm of Netflix managed to get itself into a little bit of a copyright trouble this week as subscribers found that the subtitles used for one particular TV series came from a fan-subtitle site. Netflix might have used pirated subtitles for the sci-fi TV series, Andromeda.


Netflix Finland makes a boo boo by using pirated subtitles

Nobody knows how Netflix, who pays a lot of money to license official subtitles, ended up using subtitles created by DivX Finland (and you knew it was their sub because the subtitles displayed their website’s URL as part of the credits). Netflix have promised to launch an official investigation, and have temporarily removed the entire series from their system, but the folks at DivX Finland (probably no stranger to copyright issues) found the situation extremely ironic no doubt.

Copyright law I believe treats translations (and transcriptions) as derivative work, and that would still require the owner’s permission for distribution. The translation itself, as it does involve creativity, is also protected by copyright, copyright that Netflix infringed when it used DivX Finland’s subs without permission.

I have an extra interest in subtitle and subtitle download sites because I believe that my website was one of the first, if not *the* first website to host the download of DivX subtitles files (this would be June 2000, when DivX Digest was launched and user submitted/ripped subtitles were made available for download for a few dozen different TV shows and movies). The section only lasted about 3 month and at its peak, it contained about 500 different subtitle files – I discontinued the service due to potential copyright issues, and as I was doing all the updates manually at that time, it was also becoming too much work. Better organized websites had started to appear at that time as well, so I let them do their thing.

iPhone 5 and iPad Mini

By the quirks of the copyright law, jailbreaking an iPhone is okay, but jailbreaking a tablet is a no no

Some might argue that fan made subtitles should be considered fair use, especially if it’s the kind of thing that improve accessibility. It’s a shame nobody put the case forward to the US Copyright Office for their once-every-3-years copyright review, but given the results of the latest review, it was unlikely they would have been accommodating. The latest review sees the jailbreaking of smartphones continue to be exempted from copyright laws, but the arbitrary nature of these exemptions meant that “tablets”, despite sharing the same operating system as smartphones in most cases, are not part of the exemption.

The reasoning the Library of Congress gives for this oversight is that they found the definition of “tablet” too broad, as it could encompass things like laptop computers (more of a problem now that Windows 8 is out) or even e-book readers. For e-books though, DRM ripping remains legal, and now even in the case where DRM-free versions of the same books are already available.

But movie lovers mostly miss out. While DVD (and Blu-ray) ripping received a few more exemptions in the cases of educational use, non commercial use, and criticism and analysis, ripping for “space-shifting” (for example, to convert a DVD to a format playable on an iPad) remains illegal. This is despite the fact that everyone does it with little or no harm to anyone concerned, a fact made clear by Public Knowledge, one of the consumer rights groups that argued for an exemption for ripping.

The EFF also petitioned for video game console hacking to be exempted, but their appeal also failed to convince the US Copyright Office. In another blow, unlocking of phones purchased after January 2013 will also no longer be exempted.

In my opinion, these complicated and often arbitrary exemptions can be made a lot simpler if one simply followed the rule that any act that has no serious commercial implications (eg. DVD ripping for home use) should be considered fair use, as is everything in which the social benefits outweigh any commercial concerns. And all fair use should be legal, with specific exemptions being made for really popular acts in order not to criminalize a huge percentage of the population. How hard is that?

High Definition

With Mozilla all but signalling defeat in the battle to keep H.264 out of the HTML 5 specs back in March, the inevitable  is happening as Mozilla announced that the desktop version of Firefox will be getting OS-level native H.264 support soon. The mobile version of Firefox has already made this move, but with Flash still being a viable option on desktops, there was less urgency in adding in “native” H.264 support.

Mozilla’s beef with H.264 is that it doesn’t fit in with the open-source, royalty free nature of Firefox. But H.264 has become an industry standard as you’ll be hard pressed to find a modern device that doesn’t support H.264 these days (just as you would be hard pressed to find one that supports Mozilla’s favoured alternative, WebM).

Having OS based native support ultimately means that Flash won’t be needed. So in the end, it was really the choice between two evils. Flash and H.264, with H.264 winning in the end – not the worst result, if you ask me.

And I suppose I should talk about the iPad mini, at least from the point of view of HD video. There’s no doubt that 7-8″ tablets are the perfect consumption platform for video, which is why Amazon has the Kindle Fire, and why Google has the Nexus 7. I keep on getting the feeling that Apple will soon drop a bombshell that will completely shakes up the digital video rental and subscription streaming markets.


Ubisoft has been making a concerted effort to distance the company from their past anti-piracy controversies, at least that’s what they said a couple of weeks ago. So you would expect the company to be extra careful to avoid any more anti-piracy related mishaps, at least for a short while. Well, the calm lasted about 6 weeks, as this week, Ubisoft enraged paying customers yet again by forgetting to include the CD key in retailed boxed PC versions of their new game, Rocksmith.

It took about a week for Ubisoft to respond, and even then, some customers were still left without a playable game for an extended period of time after going through the process. For those affected, they would need to provide proof of purchase to Ubisoft via their tech support website, which can be problematic for some if they’ve already discarded their receipt before realising Ubisoft’s mistake. Ubisoft has promised to compensate affected users with a free DLC (worth a whole $2.99), but it might very well be a case of too little too late for a company that couldn’t afford any more anti-piracy related scandals.

Sony PS3 Hacked

The “LV0” master keys leaked for the PS3 may prove the most costly to Sony yet, and make all future attempts to secure the console a very difficult proposition

Another gaming company that’s been trying to distance themselves from past issues is Sony, and their attempt to dig their way out from the various hacking scandals. But Sony does not appear to have any more luck than Ubisoft, with the news this week that a new set of master keys have been leaked for the PS3, keys that may make all future attempts to secure the console futile.

The new leaked keys, dubbed the “LV0” keys, could potentially prevent Sony from being able to secure the console again via a new firmware patch, which has been the go to solutions since the initial hack of the console, and when Sony managed to at least partially re-secure the console via the 3.56 firmware release.

While it’s disingenuous to blame these hacking attempts on Sony’s decision to pull support for Other OS, a popular PS3 feature (for the hacking community) that allowed Linux to run on the console – it’s very likely that the PS3 would still have been hacked due to the poor programming choices made by the security programmers – but it seems Sony’s decision to turn their backs on the hacking and modding community, having earlier promoted the console’s versatility and specifically the Other OS feature, does seem to have cost them. It certainly engergised the hacking community, and what we’re seeing now is the result.

Alrighty then, that’s it for the week. Back in seven with more news you can miss and it still won’t make a difference to anything in your life at all!