OK, I admit it. Nights get long down here at Jason Scott Ranch and I don’t like to just walk away from things for political/ethical reasons just because my politics and ethics fall along a different path than others might. So a combination of wanting to consider all my options and the fact that my DVD mastering software has a Blu-Ray option made me consider what would be involved in putting my movie out on the “winner” of the home media wars, Blu-Ray Disc.
When I used DVD for the last movie, there was a certain spectrum of fuck I had to maneuver around and I like to think I did it well. For example, I removed the region condition (it’s region 0 or “universal” and hundreds of people outside of the US have thanked me for it), and I certainly didn’t pay for that lame-ass Macrovision whatever-the-hell protection they wanted money for. You could, trivially, pop the DVD set right into your player and have it work and you could definitely plug it into your computer and suck out all the files relevant to your interest and put it on your office network or media server or whatever the hell you wanted. It worked great for me (thanks for the bucks), it worked great for you, (thanks for the nice packaging and the respect). Even doing things in a DVD format, with “Copy Protection” sprayed on it, could be routed around for the damage it was
Now, understand something about this format, about the RIAA, and royalties. You might know this or might not.
First of all, there is an office in every duplication plant that you, standard peon, are probably going to use. This is an RIAA office. This isn’t an RIAA-FRIENDLY office, this is an RIAA office. When you send in your thing to be duplicated, they get a copy and they go over it for any obvious ownership violations. This is done. Always. Just so you know. Plants that don’t have this office, and there are likely a few, are basically targeted for raids. More often than not, these “plants” are backroom operations, not fully professional in the sense we might think of them. If you’re high-volume, you’ve got an RIAA office.
Second, you pay a royalty on every DVD that gets pressed, every DVD player that gets sold. This goes to a patent consortium, which gets paid for their work on the format and the basic design of DVDs. On top of that, you currently pay a royalty on every blank CD/DVD in a lot of places, that goes to the RIAA. OK? OK. You pay a royalty, back end or front end, on a lot of stuff you buy, that’s why people nearly blow their fingers off in garages around the world, to get the chance to charge a royalty on something they invented.
The DVD format mitigated the pain for a guy in 2005; just a few pennies a Disc went to this consortium of companies in the “patent pool”. So of my DVD Set that I made, I paid whatever the royalty was times three. The royalty is something like 3-4 cents a disc, so I was dinged for about 12 cents. OK, fine. Thanks, patent pool. Bear in mind, of course, I didn’t see this royalty, I only know about it because I know about such things; my duplication company included it in the costs of printing, because why bother me about “royalties”, which would confuse the average content creator? So this was a “back end” cost. I didn’t see it or feel it.
So let’s fast forward to Blu-Ray, the rat that won the rat fight. Companies that give you lots of information on the website are fun, so here’s a good page from PacificDisc.
Now, I don’t expect you to browse this thing closely, so let’s go right to the boner:
Advanced Access Content System (AACS) is required on all Blu-Ray projects, unless you are producing a ROM-only product. Any Blu-ray disc (BD-25 or BD-50) with any video content, be it for commercial or non-profit purposes must pay the AACS fees. The AACS fees, which are our true costs, without any mark-up, include: an AACS Media Key, AACS Content Certification and all AACS Order Processing Fees.
PacificDisc does not collect AACS Content Provider Fees. These are to be paid for by the content owner directly from AACS LA and proof of license is required before a project is started.
AACS is required on all Blu-ray discs and costs $1,585 per title plus $0.05/disc
No. Holy Jesus Muffin Baked In Hell’s Sweet Flame No.
There is no fucking way I am going to go through the pain of applying for a “license” to some asswipe centralized copy protection gestapo so that I can be issued my unique serial number, blowing $1,585 out the window for the privilege of this delicious turd which I then HAVE to use (HAVE to use, I must stress) on my disc so it “can’t be duplicated” by normal people but easily duplicated by anyone else and THEN pay another five cents PER DISC for all future copies of the disc using this key I didn’t want for copy protection I don’t want. On TOP of the royalty to the patent pool of the Blu-Ray Consortium per disc. No fucking way! I couldn’t make this clearer if I formed the words using a pile of dead offspring. This is an utter deal breaker, friends.
Think about that the next time you’re in the store considering buying your Blu-Ray player with tasty $30 Sony Royalty in it. Think how much money for all these products out there in the shelves is going to this crime family of copy protection licensing. Most smaller houses consider a 10,000 unit sale of something to be a wild success; it’s usually something like 5,000. Mine has been less than that. This would mean that thirty to fifty cents of every unit you buy is going into NOTHING. Into BREAKING THE DISC SO YOU “CAN’T COPY IT”.
Where’s the EFF in all this? I answer my own question: this situation is too far out there to really get involved with. A judge would point to online distribution and DVD-ROM and hard drives and point out that there’s no constriction of free speech here. They wouldn’t win. It’s too esoteric. But if Blu-Ray becomes “the” way you go to a table and buy a copy off of a stack next to an eager filmmaker, then it’s really the only easy transport mechanism for that direct-sell crowd. It’s sewed up. It’s owned. It’s bought and paid for and fuck you, little guy. Go blow it up on youtube and count your blessings we haven’t shut that shit down this week.
I push the papers back on the table. I get my jacket. I leave the room.
No fucking way am I doing Blu-Ray.
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