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Date News

Levies on blank media have made it to Spain. Not having known levies before I wonder if that means that customers can bypass DMCA and other legislation.. after all Spaniards will now have to pay extra for the right to make a copy.. so they should be able to exercise that right despite DRM and Co, should they not?

Plextor is entering the Blu-ray market: Unlike Pioneer's burner, the PX-B900A is not limited to Blu-Ray and DVD discs but also supports DVD-RAM and CDs.

The broadcast flag has taken the first hurdle in Congress by getting out of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.


I'm sorry for the absence of news during the past 7 days. Between my job, the world cup, a wedding in the family and the local summer festivals, there simply was no time left.

PgcEdit 7.3 is a bugfix release without any new features or additions.

DGMPGDec 1.4.8 beta 4 supports "open with" operations, fixes problems with playback speed as well as an audio detection problem in transport streams.

Now that the first Blu-ray player and discs are on the market, the first reviews are coming in, too. And just as with Toshiba's HD DVD launch, the Samsung player leaves to be desired. The player is also not flying off the shelves, either. Samsung is also considering a hybrid Blu-ray/HD DVD player.

While the first HD DVD player costs just half of what the first Blu-ray player costs, it appears Toshiba is losing a hefty amount of money on each unit sold.

Zut alors! The RIAA/Apple strategy of buying lobbying (some would say buying off) politicians has once again paid off - the interoperability clause in France's new copyright law has been watered down to make it virtually ineffective and thus the RIAA can go on shoving DRM down the French consumer's throat without the latter group having the ability to play their legitimately purchased music on the device of their liking.

Besides the lack of a fullscreen mode and some software bugs, I've really liked ABC's streaming service - and it appears I'm not the only one: ABC reports the trial has been a hit. I hope it'll be back with fullscreen and a selection of all primetime shows in September and perhaps other studios will take a hint, too.

Have you seen the latest ad campaign by the Consumer Electronics Association? If not, check out the PDF - it nicely shows the content industry's tendency to drum up doom when new technology is on the horizon - and we all know RIAA and MPAA are still here and have been making a huge lot of money from all those technologies they first wanted to ban.

Speaking of technologies to ban, US based filesharing service Guba has licensed Warner's catalog. Now wasn't filesharing the devil that had to be squashed?

And here we go again: It appears you can take the broadcast flag reappearing in congress every few months for granted. This time, as an amendment to a telecommunication legislation that has become the battleground for network neutrality.

This one's almost too good to be true: Canada is actually paying copyright lobby groups to lobby the Canadian Ministry of Heritage. So basically, they get money to tell the government they want stricter copyright laws that leave the paying customer in the dust.


Apple managed to keep their one price fits all approach for music downloads, but they have their battle cut out for them when it comes to adding full movies to iTunes. Apple is aiming for a $9.99 per movie approach, whereas studios want a variable $9.99 to $19.99 approach. The question is, would you pay $19.99 for a movie that you can get on DVD for the same price?

The first Blu-ray discs have been launched a few days early, and the High-def DVD Digest has a review of the first three titles.

Meanwhile, media companies are one after another beginning to release recordable high def discs, even though recorders are not readily available. The latest manufacturer to join the game are Mitsubishi and Hitachi. The first discs should show up in the Japanese market in early July.

The EU commission is looking at a reform of the levy system for private copying and is asking for input by affected parties by July 14th. Unfortunately, the Commission already has their minds set on a full DRM course. Hardware makers have formed the Copyright Levies Reform Alliance and are fighting against levies - quite understandably as levies make their product more expensive. The music industry is obviously also in favor of DRM as it allows the to shackle their customers and retain full control over their content and finally get rid of all those pesky digital devices that allow paying customers to use music they way they want, and not the way studios want. On the other side of the spectrum we have collection agencies, the International Federation of Actors and the International Federation of Musicians - basically those that don't get the multi million contracts from RIAA/MPAA members and rely on the existing levy system for a living. Now if you're wondering why artists are against a DRM approach, could it be that perhaps the RIAA/MPAA approach isn't primarily about the artists?


ProgDVB 4.73 has a new media client/server as well as a new EPG module and an updated SkyStar2 module.

PgcEdit 7.2 removes the VMGM_VOBU_ADMAP table if it contains 0 entries and fixes a few bugs.

OpenAVS is an open source AVS decoder. And in this case, AVS does not stand for AviSynth but the Chinese AVS video codec - a rival to AVC.

DGPulldown 1.0.8 beta 3 allows the user to configure the field order of the output stream, shows more meaningful statistics and fixes problem with large files when the input file is to be modified. On top of that, the time elapsed is now displayed.

After only a short two months on the market, Universal is the first studio to drop HD DVD prices in anticipation of the Blu-ray launch.

After music videos, the RIAA is shooting another volley at video sharing sites like YouTube. This time it's about videos with background music, no matter what quality and regardless of the fact that such videos can be ill used for actual copyright infringement (especially in the light that it's easy to get a high quality copy of the same music on P2P services). May I ask where the damages are in this particular case? It's neither commercial use, nor is anybody losing any record sales over this.

The Washington Post has a nice piece on how RIAA, MPAA and BSA have gotten the US government onboard in their international fight against copyright infringement.

After RIAA and MPAA have entered the education business, the EFF has launched their own educational campaign on how the aforementioned organizations are trying to strip you of your rights and restrict the way we use our tech gadgets. It's called The Corruptibles.


While Pioneer, Sony and Co have thrown in the towel and delayed the release of their Blu-ray players, Samsung is still holding the front and has yet to delay their first player scheduled for release in just 4 days. To ensure that potential buyers have something high def to play in their overpriced? boxes, Sony is about to release the first 7 Blu-ray movies. I'm waiting for the first reviews..

We all suspected it and now we have at least one artist confirming it: even though labels make more money from online music, the artists get less than if you buy a CD. But of course, it's all about the artists and not the S class that record label execs have in their driveway ;)


Here's a goodie for all forum members using Firefox: unskinnyboy has written a Firefox extension that maps the whole forum structure into one Firefox menu.

DivX 6.2.5 has a sharpening postprocessing filter which works for all DivX content (including DivX3) and includes some decoding optimizations both for single core and dual core chips.

DGMPGDec 1.4.8 beta 3 fixes the 1088-> 1080 mapping for DGDecode, and DGIndex now always shows the film percentage if it's above 50% and the video percentage if it's above 50% respectively.

FixVTS 1.3 fixes problems that occur when DVDShrink is used after FixVTS has processed a movie, can fix PGC LBA pointers via an option in the GUI, has an option to set the logpath from the commandline, informs you when the process has been completed in Full DVD mode and fixes minor issues and annoyances.


mplayer 1.0 pre 8 eliminates a couple of vulnerabilities, supports a couple new codecs, has improved AVC decoding and the Windows version has a new user interface.

With the left changing their minds on DMCA style legislation passed last year and the moderate party thinking out loud about a major overhaul of Sweden's copyright law, Sweden's minister of justice has told a Swedish paper that a complete change in the course of copyright legislation in Sweden and going towards a flat fee approach is becoming a serious option Undoubtedly, the MPAA will have to step up their lobbying/bribing efforts...

The HD DVD camp has announced that HD DVD will be launched in Europe by Christmas. The group hopes that within a short 6 months, enough titles and hardware will be available to convince not only early adopters, but Joe Average to buy a HD DVD player.


DGPulldown 1.0.7 can modify the source file rather than creating a new file.

HDTVtoMPEG2 1.11.89 fixes a bunch of bugs.


DGMPGDec 1.4.8 beta 2 changes the 1088 line handling to a popup and correctly distinguishes AC3 audio from teletext.

Sony has silently pushed back the launch date of their first Blu-ray player. The BDP-S1, first scheduled to be released in May, then pushed back to June, has been pushed back again and is now scheduled for release in mid August.


DGMPGDec 1.4.8 beta 1 forces streams that specify a vertical resolution of 1088 to 1080 and contains a new PAT/PMT parser.

While the House of Representatives passed the new telecommunication bill dubbed COPE act, the net neutrality amendments were shot down by a considerable majority. What's funny about this is that representatives who voted against FCC oversight are often the same ones who vote to give the FCC power to enforce the broadcast flag. I guess it's not so much about the message than about where more lobbying money comes from ;) The bill still has to make it through the Senate where another attempt can be made to bar ISPs from purposefully sabotaging your connection to services they don't approve of. If telcos have their way, don't be surprised if a year from today your favorite VoIP provider will suddenly drop most of your calls because your VoIP provider doesn't pay the traffic tax your ISP introduced to guarantee a normal level of service. It's not unlike mobsters coming to your store and asking for money for protection against property damage.. we call that extortion. Seen from a mobster's perspective, that's business, just like telcos want to introduce those protection fees for content providers. So in the end, after paying your ISP subscription and your VoIP subscription, you have to pay your ISP to not randomly drop your traffic and interrupt your phone calls. Then if you sign up for an IPTV service, it's the same game, then we have online movie rentals and in the end accessing Google will cost additional money as well. In the words of Donald Trump: It's nothing personal, it's just business.... Depending on the outcome in the Senate, I have a stock tip for you though: buy AT&T and Verizon stock.. they're bound to make more money with their tiered Internet.

I've searched the net and the site itself for any indication it's a parody but I've come up dry: Is the former head of the RIAA, Hilary Rosen, serious about P2P lawsuits and DRM being a bad idea?


Hopefully today, CoreAVC 1.1 will come out. It supports MBAFF and PAFF interlaced mode which makes it ideal to decode interlaced broadcasts from the football world cup in Germany. It also has deblocking options, a deinterlacer, and integrates with the Haali Media Splitter which can decode MPEG transport streams.

This is how I'd like to watch the world cup: French ISP Free is using ateme's AVC encoder to bring the French Open in HD quality via ADSL - and the stream only takes 5.2mbit which is no problem with ADSL2.

Trouble is looming for DRM infested music download services again. Norwegian legislation collides with services like iTunes which restrict what you can do with the music you buy. The Norwegian Consumer Council has given Apple until the 21st of June to adapt their license agreements to respond to the complaint filed back in January, or they will have to face fines in the future.

Tomorrow, the US House of Representatives is considering net neutrality amendments as part of the vote on HR5252.

Microsoft has made Windows Vista Beta 2 available for everyone. If you're not afraid of a culture shock, you can get a firsthand glimpse of what Microsoft's next operating system has in store.


If you live in the UK and like to make copies of music you legitimately own, the law is not on your side. However, the BPI (British Phonographic Industry - the UKs RIAA) has finally come to senses and now vows not to prosecute such activity. I wonder if they forgot about DRM?

Blu-ray is facing some last minute delays: Pioneer has just announced that it will delay the launch of it's players until some time in fall. Meanwhile, Philips has announced its first Blu-ray burner. The SPD7000 can read and write Blu-ray, DVDs and CDs and will be available in August, for a price in between 800 and 900€. What's good news is that this isn't the first recorder which features the SATA interface. With IDE no longer be a native component of intel's next generation of chipsets, and the number of IDE channels being marginalized in chipsets for the AMD platform as well, it becomes more and more important to be able to get optical drives that support SATA.

The RIAA has slapped the brakes on a P2P music streaming in the UK - Tiscali's "Tiscali Juke Box" has apparently become a victim of its own features when Tiscali added a search engine to the service. The RIAA wants more money for service that allows consumer to search by artists.


Here's yet another piece of copyright legislation that contains a bunch of unwanted consequences for the paying consumer: The Section 115 Reform Act (SIRA), in complex language that will make your head spin, introduces mandatory licenses for basically every digital copy made of a piece of music. So, if you copy a song from a CD to your MP3 player, you'd need a license to do so - and we're right there where the copyright industry has wanted to go all along: the pay per view society where each time you listen to a song, you'll have to pay for it.

In the UK, a group of members of parliament wants to introduce mandatory labeling of DRM protected content so people know up front about all the restrictions they're going to encounter after making a purchase.

I'm sure many of you have hard of, or even used, Skype. Recently, Skype has come under fire by Net2Phone, another company trying to make money with Internet based telephony. They are suing Skype for infringing a patent issued in 1995 which basically comes down to storing online status and your IP address so that two parties can communicate with each other without having to go through a central server. So let's rewind to 1995.. I was still in high school and what was I doing multiple evenings a week - sitting in front of computers chatting with other people on IRC. And every now and then sharing files. How does that work? The IRC server stores online status and IP addresses of all connected parties, then if you want to send somebody a file, your IRC client looks up the other party's IP (provided it's online), and then sends the file directly to that party. Sound familiar? It's exactly what Net2Phone claims to have a patent on. Which judge can I call to get this ridiculous suit tossed and the patent revoked effective immediately? And even then.. how exactly is the burden of patentability met? We not only have prior art, but this is a pretty darned obvious mechanism to any professional working in the area of telecommunications.


Cuttermaran 1.67 can write each cut list to a separate file, allows duplicating a single cut from a cutlist, reinserting a cut will place it in its original position in the cut list, the QuickJump resolution can be configured, you can set an aspect ratio for the first and last frame of a cut, there's an optional scroll bar in the preview window, the cut in/out button color will changed according to the current state of the cut, the chapterlist output now supports the ogg format, markers are stored in the project file and can be configured in the QuickJump dialog, D2V support has been extended to support more recent DGIndex versions, the columns in the cut list can be configured and a few bugs have been squashed as well.

Burn your DVDs directly in the store? Major US retail stores are currently trying to work out a deal with the studios to make this happen. The "movie download kiosks" could become a reality next year.

The June issue of IEEE Spectrum has an interesting look at copyright law since 1990. It's called "Death by DMCA" and outlines how the industry has twisted copyright law from its original goal to promote creativity to protecting their business model and prevent unwanted consumer electronics devices and softwares from entering the marketplace.

The RIAA has found yet another enemy: After P2P and people making copies of their own audio CDs, this time it's user generated content sites. Sites like YouTube, MySpace, Google Video and iFilm where users can post their own videos like the latest music videos recorded off MTV, threaten the RIAAs plans to monetize music videos so the Cease and Desist letters are flying again.


PgcEdit 7.1.2 fixes the kill playback function as well as problems in the ISO creation mechanism.

SubRip 1.50 beta 3a has a progress bar for loading character matrices, contains Unicode orthography dictionaries, supports 3GPP subtitles and fixes two bugs.

DVDSubEdit 1.33 displays timing in the subpicture info, can change color transparency or colors in all DCSQTs at the same time, has a cleaned up GUI and fixes some bugs.

DGMPGDec 1.4.7 includes improved luminance and cropping filters and contains corrections and additions in the documentation.

One has to ask: who's the master of whom here? The US negotiators, no doubt on behalf of the RIAA, is using as a reason to delay Russia's entry into the WTO. The message is pretty clear: shut down the site or we'll pull the handbrake. According to Russian copyright law, collection agencies (those that get money from airplay time on radio and collect levies on recorders and blank media where those exist) can act on behalf of copyright holders without their explicit authorization. So, the Russian collection agency is licensing the major studio's catalog without their permission. So this is how AllOfMP3 operates - they license songs from the collection agencies and pay the appropriate fees to them - and those fees then go back to the artists. However, those fees are quite a bit lower than what the RIAA is charging every online music service they have a contract with, and without a direct contract, they can't dictate prices and DRM (AllOfMP3 has no DRM, allows you to buy songs by the MB and has a wide variety of formats you can download from - including lossless formats).

In another matter of undue pressure from an industry group, the largest Bittorrent tracker search engine - The Pirate Bay - has been temporarily shut down earlier this week. The MPAA had already released a gloating press release, but they had to break off the champagne party soon enough. Torrents are just links for the P2P service Bittorrent and contain no copyrighted information - but they are obviously facilitating copyright infringement. Then again, nobody holds gun shops and manufacturers of guns and ammo responsible for killing sprees, even though clearly the sale of guns and ammo facilitate murder and guns are made for killing people. The site had been a thorn in the industry's backside for long, especially with their mockery of the legal threats that they regularly received. And in the raid, the Swedish police took every server in the datacenter, leaving hundreds of legitimate sites without a server and means to get their hardware and data back immediately - I wonder if they can send the bill for their loss to the RIAA, MPAA and BSA.

Here's a little flip-flopping by the AT&T chairman on net neutrality: after a while they've realized that telling people they're only paying for a fraction of what they get with their ISP subscription and that big and popular sites like Google, amazon or eBay will be charged extra in the future (which undoubtedly would lead to higher prices or worse service), they've apparently realized that speaking truthfully isn't going to win them any favors.


The NeroDigital Audio Encoder can use neroaactag to tag the output, writes MPEG-4 tags at the beginning of MP4/3GP files, supports multiple input files and allows to turn them into a multichapter MP4 file, has a progress display and the decoder has been sped up.

CinemaNow has struck a deal with Disney, so that their top titles will now also be available for download for $20, and back catalog titles for $10. Of course, you can't burn those downloaded movies to DVDs (well, you can but it's still in DRM'ed WMV so your DVD player won't be able to handle the movies) or copy them freely between all your computing devices.

Speaking of DRM, customers of a number of Dutch ISPs will run into a DRM brickwall half a year from now as the record labels have decided to retire the download option of their "music stream" service. So, those who bought songs for download from the service, will no longer be able to listen to them come January 1st 2007. Of course, they'll have the option to buy the music again under different conditions. Label execs must be drooling at the prospect of charging people over and over again for the same thing.

In another attempt to explore alternative markets, major movie studios except for Sony have licensed their films for MovieBeam. MovieBeam is based on a box that you hook up to your TV and which downloads movies from PBS stations across the US. It works like a rental service: $4 / $2 for a 24h viewing period. In remembrance of the failed DIVX system, the box also has a phone jack and phones home once a week to let studios know how much you've spent (and I dare speculate which movies, how often and when).

And speaking of such services, the download service owned by the studios themselves - Movielink - is up for sale but nobody is biting. One of the reasons: the service is too consumer unfriendly with the current DRM terms.

Could email use as we know it come to an end? Another software patent threatens to make every email user a potential patent infringer. The problem aren't the voicemail messages mentioned but the structure of an email. Email has long since been able to contain structured messages of different types, with instructions on what to do with a part of a message. For instance: attachments, HTML mails (all those emails that you write which contain nice formatting, background images, etc. - those actually consists of two parts: a HTML parts with all the nifty formatting, and a text only version which contains just what you wrote - and depending on the recipients mail program and settings one of the two versions will be shown). There's a bit of hope though at least in Europe, as the European Commission currently considers software patents invalid. Now they just need to invalidate the already granted applications..

After the EU has passed their data retention directive - now finally coming under fire with Ireland and Slovakia asking the European court to rule the directive invalid - has given governments all around the world ideas. That is, those that are not already snooping on their own citizens and where the government can't even spell let alone pronounce the word privacy: various communist countries, a long list of African countries but also many in the middle East.. the list is actually quite long. Anyway, first in line is the US. The Justice Department is telling service providers to keep records or they'll pass legislation so they'll have to keep records. They're using child porn and terrorism as the explanation for the general public (of course, who can oppose catching people who abuse children and blow up buildings full of innocent people?), but when pressed by the telcos, they had to admit that the data would also be useful for various other areas: intellectual property infringement or fraud as two prominent examples. While only records of who contacted who are to be kept, imagine what a GET SetupDVDDecrypter_3.5.4.0.exe from in today's climate of "guilty until proven innocent" could mean. And with credit card and social security numbers being exposed due to insufficient security, is it really a good idea to collect so much data? Security breaches today account for a considerable part of identity theft and fraud - it's the availability of so much data paired that makes the explosion of crime in that area possible in the first place. Any, why the need now that the NSA is already tapping into major communication arteries?


AACS, the copy protection mechanism (or more appropriately named through the eyes of a paying customer: the fair use circumvention mechanism) used on HD DVD and Blu-ray should be finalized by the end of this month. Besides the already well known encryption and the Image Constraint Token (a means to force a lower resolution for analog outputs), we'll get an audio watermark (not to track copies but to prevent playing any audio that doesn't have the watermark), and the Digital Only Token - a means to force digital only output.

I may not even agree with everything Lawrence Lessing has to say about the remix culture, but one thing struck me in this article a reader submitted: "Tarnation", a film presented at the film festival in Cannes in 2004 which cost $218 to make - but after royalties for clips and music used the cost went up to $400'000, and that's just darned unreasonable.


Last month's news can be found here.

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