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:
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.
Sorry, I’m sticking with it. Fuck Blu-Ray.
Categorised as: documentary
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