Digital Digest - LiveUpdate Newsletter

Digital Digest - LiveUpdate Newsletter DIGITAL DIGEST - LIVE UPDATE Issue 29

Your "whenever I have time to write one" newsletter
Sunday, 28th July, 2002


0. Section Zer0 - An Introduction to this Issue

1. MPAA Antics

2. XviD Explained

3. Back To The Future Trilogy DVD - Confused ?? 

4. How to Cancel/Change Your Subscription Email Address/Settings
- how to maintain the subscription to this newsletter even if your email address has changed

5. A Simple Thank-you
- a thank-you message for all those that joined this list


0. Section Zer0

Welcome to this, the 29th issue, of the Digital Digest LiveUpdate newsletter.

MPAA censors Homer Simpson ; RIAA wants to hack your computer ; XviD VS DivX ; Back To The Future confuses people - it's all just another day in the world of DVD/DivX.

Enjoy :)

-- DVDGuy

1. MPAA Antics

The MPAA, and all their friends, have been busy at work these past few months.

Gloating after their success over 2600 in the "DeCSS case", where 2600 has decided not to appeal the case all the way to the US Supreme Court, the MPAA and the RIAA (AKA. "Hollywood") has been pressuring the US Congress to pass a bill to allow them to hack into your computer if they "suspected" that you had pirated versions. That's right folks, if you find that you suddenly lose control of your computer, and the MP3s you downloaded were mysteriously being deleted, it might just be the good folks at the RIAA that are doing what may be perfectly legal under US law.

DeCSS - Million dollar lawsuits over this?

According to a Reuters report, "The bill would permit recording companies and other copyright holders to hack onto networks to thwart users looking to download free music, and would protect them from lawsuits from users."

This should come as no surprise, as the RIAA has already been screwing around with file sharing networks by the way of "spoofing". Spoofing refers to the act of distributing fake/broken files onto popular file sharing networks to frustrate users and consume costly bandwidth. But according to the RIAA, "Spoofing is just one example of a lawful and appropriate self-help measure available to the labels to respond to the growing problem of peer-to-peer network piracy." Overpeer, a New York-based software firm funded by South Korea's SK Group, is one firm helping the industry disguise online files to thwart unauthorized swapping (source :

Not that I want to give the MPAA/RIAA any ideas, but if the "legal hacking" bill is passed and when combined with "spoofing", who's to say that the MPAA/RIAA won't introduce some kind of virus/worm into file sharing networks and use the worm to delete "suspected" MP3/DivX files from your home computer.


Fortunately, not everything is going the MPAA's way, largely thanks to a Fox employee by the name of Homer Simpson. In a Fox online Q&A to promote the new Simpsons DVD set, Homer Simpson was happy to recommend users to bypass DVD's region protection scheme. When asked "what does region coding mean?", Homer replies "I have no idea whatsoever what regional coding means. But it is essential that you buy a multi-regional player. Do it now. Don't worry, we'll still be waiting here when you get back." Fox is a member of the MPAA.

Soon after the story broke that Homer Simpson was possibly breaking the law, Fox took action and censored what Homer had said, by removing Homer's recommendation for multi-regional DVD players, probably at the "request" of the MPAA. Luckily, through the wonderful Internet caching technologies of, Homer's original (and wise) remarks can still be read here.

(Just in case the MPAA "requests" action from again, I've already saved a copy of this priceless web page to my hard-drive ready for distribution across the Net, that is if the MPAA doesn't hack into my computer and wipe my files first)

Related Links :

2600 withdraws Supreme Court appeal in DeCSS case (The Register)
Bill Lets Music Firms Hack Napster-Like Systems (Excite/Reuters)
Congress to turn hacks into hackers (The Register)
Fox recommends hacked DVD players for The Simpsons (The Register)
Music Labels Plant Online Decoys, Mull Lawsuits (Reuters)

Related Discussions :

Homer J. Simpson takes on the MPAA
F**king overpeer

2. XviD Explained

About XviD
About XviD

There is a new video compression codec that has been quietly closing in on DivX as the most popular video codec, confirmed by the fact that it is the 7th most downloaded software on DivX Digest. This new video codec is called XviD (DivX backwards), and unlike DivX, is a completely open-source project.

As stated on DivX Digest's XviD download page : "XviD is a continuation of Project Mayo and aims to develop a high quality open-source MPEG-4 codec. As you may already know, XviD comes from the same open-source project that was the basis for DivX 4.x/5.x, but instead of going all commercial, XviD remains open-source. The quality of the codec is extremely good, and encoding speed is very fast as well, so it is at least worth a try".

Since both XviD and the new DivX 4.x/5.x codecs comes from the same source (Project Mayo), performance and quality between these codecs are actually quite similar - so similar in fact, that both formats are almost interchangeable (meaning you can use the DivX codec to playback XviD encoded movies, and vice versa).

Technically, XviD is still somewhat behind DivX 5.x in terms of compression, quality and efficiency.

But in my opinion, XviD's open-source approach is much preferred over DivX Network's closed-source/commercial licensing approach. Of course, DivX Network's main goal is to make DivX profitable and a commercial licensing scheme is necessary - there is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to make money out of DivX, and in the process, promote DivX as a viable commercial video codec. But because XviD is an open-source project, many in the DivX/MPEG-4 community with programming skills are able to offer their skills in improving this codec - and this is an advantage DivX Networks does not have. Those that had contributed to Project Mayo before DivX Networks closed it off, are now likely to offer their help in developing XviD (DivX Networks closed the Project Mayo open-source project, and released the Project Mayo based DivX 4.0 as closed source).

Related Links :

XviD Download Page 
What is XviD 
XviD Setup/Reference Guide 
Koepi's XviD Options Explained Document

3. Back To The Future Trilogy DVD - Confused ?? 

BTTF - Region 1 Cover
BTTF - Region 1 Cover

"Great Scott" - The Back To The Future Trilogy (BTTF) is finally coming to DVD!!

One of the greatest science fiction movies in the last 20 years are coming to DVD, and according to preliminary reviews, it will be 3 great DVDs.

For some strange reason, the region-1 version of BTTF won't be released until December, whereas other parts of the world (eg. where I live, Australia) will receive their version much earlier, some as soon as August/September.

Further confusion and anger erupted when the it was announced that the region-1 version would have more extra features than the overseas versions, and the possible delay of the Region-2 (UK) version of BTTF until December as well (but possibly with fewer features than the Region-1 version).

Apparently, some extras on the DVD are still being produced for the US version (eg. additional audio commentary, music videos), whereas overseas fans have to live with a DVD set with less features (although with an earlier release date). Most of the "extra" extras on the R1 version will be material that the DVD producers can find between the release of the overseas versions and the release of the R1 version, and the most important features will already be on the overseas versions (eg. documentaries, most deleted scenes). Considering Universal has had years to come up with the extra features on the DVDs, I wouldn't expect the R1 version to have additional extras that fans of the movie can't live without - perhaps some newly recorded audio commentary will be the only thing that oversea fans will miss terribly. Also, the overseas versions seems to have a better looking cover.

BTTF - Region 2 UK
BTTF - Rest of the World

While it still isn't clear what exactly is on the Region-1 version of BTTF, and whether the Region-2 version will be released earlier or later or have the same content as the R1 or R4 version of the DVD, below is a list of likely release dates and prices for this eagerly awaited DVD release :

Version Release Date Extra Features Price
Region 1 - US December 17 possibly with more extras than R2/R4 version
$US 48.43
Region 2 - UK December 2 possible with less extras than R1 version £26.24
Region 2 - France October 8 possible with less extras than R1 version EUR 44,99
Region 4 - Australia August 21 possible with less extras than R1 version $AUD 45.95 (~ $US 25-30)

As you can see, the Australian version is clearly the cheapest and quickest way to get your BTTF DVD fix. And just released yesterday, a full review of the Australian version of the DVDs have been released by Michael D's Region-4 DVD Info Page, so those that are eager to find out what is on the DVD (see "Related Links" below for links to the reviews). According to the review, all three DVDs have perfect/reference quality video, almost perfect audio and some terrific features.

Regardless, this whole mess could have been easily avoided if BTTF had the same or similar worldwide release date, like most other big DVD releases such as the Star Wars Episode I DVD (BTW : Star Wars Episode II : ATOC DVD is rumored to be coming sometime in November this year!!).

Purchase Links :

Back To The Future Trilogy Region-1 
Back To The Future Trilogy Region-2 UK
Back To The Future Trilogy Region-2 FR  
Back To The Future Trilogy Region-4 : Atlantic DVD or EzyDVD

Related Links :

BTTF DVD Official Site  
Universal making its “Future” plans (Variety/
Disc news ( 
Michael D's BTTF review (Region-4, Australia)
Michael D's BTTF Part II review (Region-4, Australia)
Michael D's BTTF Part III review (Region-4, Australia)

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