ASCII by Jason Scott

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Blu-Ray Still Blows —

Some time ago I wrote an entry that got some attention about the Blu-ray format and why I refuse to release anything on it. It’d be nice to release the text adventure documentary in what Blu-Ray claims to be, but reality showed it not to be the case.

I was alerted recently to the fact that the Blu-ray fees I quoted had been modified, and were “more friendly” to independents, that is, groups for whom $5-$10k in fees are  not chump change or somewhere near a couple days of catering bill. Obviously this is not everyone but it’s basically everyone I care about. Naturally, I took a look.

I am referring, here, to this document, which is an excellent overview of the current fee schedule and changes made. However, bear in mind that to truly understand what all the fees, licensing and issues are for you, you’re really going to have to hit up the AACS site and download all the licensing agreements.  I am not in any way suggesting normal people do this, but to really get a handle on what it all means, you have to grab all that stuff, and trust me, any document with the words “WITNESSETH” in the contracts you have to sign is probably not something you want to waste your time on, unless you’re a lawyer or hiring one, or actually want to release stuff on Blu-ray. Then you kind of have to do it.

So here’s the high-level message relating to these new changes related to the Blu-ray fees:

FUCK BLU-RAY.

I just wanted to make it clear. The new changes, which are the “final” licensing setups (the previous terms I covered were “interim”), are just as henious and stupid as they’ve always been. The pain has been shifted around and I guess for people who are looking for any silver lining in a fart you can convince yourself that the new terms are more “independent friendly”. But the fact is they’re more independent friendly just as not setting a house on fire that you just robbed is “homeowner friendly”. A reasonable person whose tab is not being picked up by a huge, fat company with insider lines and entire legions of lawyers looking for some leathery contract to chew on still has no reason to go with Blu-ray. Steady as she goes – this thing is as open and loving as a customized cartridge that plugs into a customized system and charges you an arm and a leg to make the cartridge. Just because the “cartridge” is a disc that in ye olde days was a pretty inexpensive way to get your message out does not mean we’re anywhere near the same animal. Listen to me, people: a/v components being built now will decrease resolution on images if it “suspects” you’re doing anything “wrong” with it. Do you realize how sick that is? That we let it come to this?

I mean, check this ass-fuckery:

Analog “Sunset” provision

The final AACS License agreements also include provisions to phase out the use of analog output in Blu-ray players.  It says that all Blu-ray players manufactured after December 31, 2010 must limit the analog output to SD resolution.  After December 31, 2013, no device that can decrypt AACS content can have any analog outputs.  The intent of this is to limit casual piracy and has no effect on how you author your Blu-ray discs.

Did you see that? And you’re fine with this? They’re fucking breaking the functionality of shit just because they can and you’re fine with this?

Anyway, back to the new terms.

As mentioned before, these fees are related to the innovation and R&D of a given format. The idea is that because a lot of research went into the items, the groups who have patents on them will get fees and payments related to the creation of the items. It’s a way to ensure that people who create stuff are then given money and credit for the years they spent working through all the hurdles of their technology. You make an amazing new nail-clipper, and then everyone who buys your nail-clipper is paying $0.05 to the nail clipper inventor. CDs and DVDs had this going on for many years, and we didn’t really care because the cost (as low as pennies a disc) were in the realm of chump change.  DVDs charged more, but again, it was enough that a duplicator wouldn’t even bring it up as a cost on your side; you were just charged X for each duplicated disc, and some piece of that went to fees and to licensing and whatever.

The situation with Blu-ray is that the fees are significant enough, and the AACS bullshit is so mandatory now, that even duplicators have to let you know about it, lest you find them entirely uncompetitive or in some way ripping you off.

So let’s address the base issue here: copy protection is mandatory. That is, if you want to make a Blu-Ray disc, you have to put copy protection on it. You have to pay for the privilege of the copy protection. There is no situation where you can’t have that copy protection. It’s not even particularly good copy protection, since people are ripping Blu-Ray discs quite happily and have for significant months now. But you have to have it and you have to pay for it.

A bunch of my issues with this format rise from this set of situations, where you are being latched onto mandatory crap-ass restrictions and licensing for something you very likely don’t even fucking want. Any of the changes they’ve made to the fee structure is just a shell game after that.

Previously, you had to pay $3000 for your special key for your Blu-ray disc. You had to buy this thing and you had to use it, and if the duplicator didn’t use it they’d lose the license to duplicate discs. Now, you can choose to pay $500 a year for this special key, paying every year you are duplicating discs (up to ten years) for a total of $5000. Or, you can pay the $3000 up front. In other words, they have composed a loan-shark system around the key payment.  I don’t know what part of that makes you say “wow, they’re opening up to independents”.

The rest of the changes are similar. You pay $500 for the use of a key you just paid that $500 to get. You pay per disc for the use of that key. You also have a number in there, a special arbitrary number, that defines you as an “independent”. It is all wasted money, so you can buy into a system trying to close itself off and go completely vertical and keep people who are not part of the syndicate out.

It’s heinous.

Sorry, I’m sticking with it. Fuck Blu-Ray.


Categorised as: documentary

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27 Comments

  1. Krisjohn says:

    That’s cool and all, but how will you be releasing Get Lamp in high def?

  2. Michael Kohne says:

    The funny thing is that Blu-Ray already has problems, (bad economy, competition from downloadable content, slow uptake of high-def in the US). They really should be smarter than to add to their woes by forcing smaller folks to continue with DVD.

    As to how Jason will release physical media, I expect a standard def version on regular DVD and computer-readable high-def on separate DVD. It’s not the best solution, but with Blu-Ray off the table (and I agree whole-heartedly with that!), there aren’t a whole lot of other options.

  3. DosFreak says:

    Is physical media necessary? If so then just release a physical DVD and then offer a higher resolution/bitrate downloadble version online. Seems like the best solution to me.

  4. Daniel Auger says:

    That ain’t right.

  5. trid says:

    And the worst thing is, you have to pay for their copy protection although it is already broken. (Not in a cryptographic sense, but Anydvd et al. only lag a few days behind at most!)

    • Jason Scott says:

      Yes, I think the entry just mentioned that.

      And yes, people are getting it right – DVD for physical distribution, hi-def for digital distribution.

  6. Bryan says:

    Thanks for the post. I’ve been disgusted by DRM everywhere else I’ve seen it and knew about the previous attempts to control DVD content but I never read up on Blue-Ray. What you describe is hideous and I completely agree with your position on it.

  7. Kadin says:

    The “Analog Sunset” B.S. seems like it will provide a great opportunity for greymarket Chinese machines, if they can get the DRM thoroughly circumvented by then.

    I look forward to buying a $30 BluRay player that does everything I want it to; until that device exists, I’m fine with my $30 non-UOP-respecting, region-ignoring DVD player.

  8. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Gabriel Morato, Greg Herlein and Tech news. Gabriel Morato said: shares an interesting (if offensive) http://tinyurl.com/n224z6 (discussion on Blu-ray licensing agreements)… http://plurk.com/p/1vvjr6 [...]

  9. karatchov says:

    Hy

    Do you know that the DVD has enough room for about 2 hours of high quality video content (i1080) ?
    With correct use of actual video/audio compression technology, the blue-ray is of no use.
    And trust me, you wont even notice the image difference.

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  11. Scott says:

    Actually – I’ve looked in to this and there is a loophole. It’s sufficient to just have your disk *signed* by AACS, which is cheaper (but not free) and doesn’t result in any of the content being encrypted.

  12. kerryh says:

    So you are forced to pay for their DRM, which has already been cracked. It’s like paying for a security window with no glass.

    At least it partly (very slightly) explains the excessive costs they are charging for Blu-Ray movies.

  13. Rubes says:

    For some reason, this made me think of the rip-off that is the “Personal Seat License” that so many sports teams use, where you actually pay large sums of money for the right to pay large sums of money for the actual season tickets.

  14. stmfreak says:

    Fuck Blue Ray. I stopped buying DVD players years ago when they became ubiquitous in computers. I see no reason to buy a blue-ray player. Further, it is becoming clear that the winner of the format wars is h264 or m4v or avi, not some corporate controlled polycarbonate physical media.

    Content distribution is going digital. Release your stuff over the Internet and use paypal for payment. You’re going to get pirated either way, but at least you’ll retain your principals.

  15. Chris says:

    Fuck Blu Ray. Netflix streaming in HD is where it’s at, and Microsoft’s way of continuing the format war. No media, no stupid fees, release your movie on Netflix!

  16. Nick Bensema says:

    Two years ago, I bought a DVD recorder from woot.com that plays data discs with AVI files using DivX codecs on them, which offers better compression. And it outputs HDMI and analog component. I don’t know whether you can count on everyone owning a DVD player that does that, but I’d pay for a disc with AVI files on it.

  17. Mark M says:

    Could you not do an AVCHD (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AVCHD) DVD-9 disc? The disc structure is compatible with Blu-Ray and could be a way around AACS and licensing.

    Just a thought.

  18. VoltageX says:

    I’d pay for a .mkv.

  19. Kieron says:

    Fyi – you’ve got over 450 comments on reddit…

    http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/9jj9e/

  20. [...] So, publishing a Blu-Ray requires committing to DRM. Here’s why. [...]

  21. Laroquod says:

    Considering that I do not yet think the terms are open and democratic enough to personally put my shoulder into realeasing anything on the App Store, and that’s like, way cheaper, Blu-ray is out of the question. What just happened to the public domain? Whups! It just disappeared from under our feet, in Blu-ray land. Not allowed to exist! When did robber barons steal the future?

  22. Dr.Arthur says:

    I’d sell the movie using the Brad Sucks Digital Download Store ( http://www.bradsucks.net/projects/bsdds/ ) It’s simple and uses paypal.

  23. snappersbite says:

    Bluray is a waste of time. Its full of retards at AVS forum retards at home theater retards at the once The Digital Bits that was hacked retards at AVforum retards at bluray.com retards at digital digest retards at home theater shack retards yes retards.

    bluray is for retards!