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March 22, 2012 2:40 PM   Subscribe

Cinavia DRM: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Blu-ray’s Self-Destruction The latest Blu-Ray anti piracy technology uses audio watermarking to shut down unauthorised uses. Anandtech's Ganesh T S argues that it is a harbinger of doom.

"We originally set out to provide a one-stop information piece about Cinavia. Soon enough, we felt the need to make the Blu-ray industry aware of how they are completely ignoring the consumers. Just as we were wrapping up the piece, details of the Walmart - Vudu - UltraViolet initiative came to light. The conversion pricing for existing disc owners only furthered our conclusion that the Blu-ray industry is woefully out of touch with consumer reality.

From our perspective, we feel that the Blu-ray industry (studios as well as the licensing authorities) is overpricing their technology in today's connected world. Most of the Blu-ray features such as BD-Live and interactive BD-J content are just too much effort spent for very little return (because the consumer has no real interest in using them). The addition of new licensing requirements such as Cinavia are preventing the natural downward price progression of Blu-ray related technology. Instead of spending time, money and effort on new DRM measures that get circumvented within a few days of release, the industry would do well to lower the launch price of Blu-rays. There is really no justification for the current media pricing."
posted by Sebmojo (83 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
harbinger of doom... for the technology.

Not the, you know, world.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:44 PM on March 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


People seriously seriously need to stop copping the Dr. Strangelove subtitle for their article headers.

Okay I'll read the article now.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:48 PM on March 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


..Which is a shame because streaming looks awful, will probably always look awful, and blu ray's (when well mastered, like, for example, criterion), are worth of theatrical projection.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 2:49 PM on March 22, 2012


Which is a shame because streaming looks awful

.....for now.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 2:52 PM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why is it every time I see "doom" in an article I hear it in Professor Farnsworth's voice: Doom. DOOM!

Anyhow, I'm actually surprised they are trying the watermark joke again. My money is on a sharpie defeat.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 2:53 PM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Cinavia has been under discussion on sites like AVSforum for some time now. There was (may still be) a mini-rush to find BR players still shipping with Pre-Cinavia firmware, to be kept air-gapped. The problem is that newly pressed BR discs may stealthily force-update end-user's players. Which seems highly suspect to me.....
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:55 PM on March 22, 2012


Which is a shame because streaming looks awful

.....for now.


The reason I think it will always look awful is because it already doesn't have to. For example: multicasting. Broadcasters use their bandwidth to give you multiple streams of channels that you don't care about rather than decent looking channels you do. This is why most HDTV looks like shit.

Netflix and Hulu streaming could be worse but they're just not reliable. I don't trust them to focus on higher quality.

Not that all Blu-Ray discs look great. But it's a guaranteed format where no corruption can sneak in.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 2:58 PM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


But it's a guaranteed format where no corruption can sneak in.

er, I mean, DATA corruption...
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 2:59 PM on March 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Why is it every time I see "doom" in an article I hear it in Professor Farnsworth's voice: Doom. DOOM!

Zim or Gir here. Although now I'm thinking of Farnsworth singing the Doom Song.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:00 PM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm not very concerned about the whole watermarking issue, but I'm pretty annoyed that Blu-Ray players output a HDCP protected HDMI signal even when playing back non-protected Blu-Ray discs. Ones I made myself. All of this is preventing me from converting the HDMI signal to SDI and routing it through the office video hub like I do everything else, and that's really annoying.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:05 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I love how these people developing the DRM get money for licenses, for a service that does basically nothing except inconvenience legitimate consumers. Is this not a scam?
posted by palidor at 3:06 PM on March 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


Why is it every time I see "doom" in an article I hear it in Professor Farnsworth's voice: Doom. DOOM!

Zim or Gir here. Although now I'm thinking of Farnsworth singing the Doom Song.


I actually hear Ms. Bitters, from Invader Zim.

A lot of these initiatives and measures taken by "Hollywood" appears based on the philosophy that they must make money NOW, rather than provide content that satisfies the consumers, builds a customer base, and earns money later on down the road. And that makes me sad.

I just don't understand why these people feel that by making it harder for legitimate customers to use their products, it serves as a piracy deterrent.
posted by CancerMan at 3:06 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


This sounds like a great reason to continue not to have a blu-ray player.
posted by Zed at 3:09 PM on March 22, 2012 [25 favorites]


Why is it every time I see "doom" in an article I hear it in Professor Farnsworth's voice: Doom. DOOM!

Good News Everybody! I've invented a way to mess with Mister Fabulous' mind just by using the word "Doom"!
posted by radwolf76 at 3:09 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Good News Everybody! It is impossible to read that without hearing it in my voice!
posted by shakespeherian at 3:11 PM on March 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


This is why people pirate movies: DVD edition; and Blu-Ray edition.

Fun fact: VCL seems to ignore all the beginning DVD hoopla. Bug or feature, I don't care.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:12 PM on March 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


The net result is that almost every new Blu-ray fails to play back on a player if it doesn’t have the latest firmware updates. This is obviously a drawback for consumers who just want to put the disc in the tray and enjoy the movie
Man, ridiculous.
Cinavia has been under discussion on sites like AVSforum for some time now. There was (may still be) a mini-rush to find BR players still shipping with Pre-Cinavia firmware, to be kept air-gapped. The problem is that newly pressed BR discs may stealthily force-update end-user's players. Which seems highly suspect to me.....
It sounds to me that, if you do that, you'll get distorted video when the 'special sauce' doesn't run. Basically what they've done is turn disks into 'software' that of course can do anything software might want to do to verify itself. If you don't run the software you get distorted/warped video that the software is supposed to fix for you.

But ultimately, I don't see at all what this is supposed to accomplish. You can record video directly off the screen, for example and use software to clean it up. Or you might be able to open up a "secure" display screen and record the video signals directly to the panel.
By serving as a digital signature, it helps the player / analyzer identify the content status. In the next section, we will be talking in detail about Cinavia, the audio watermarking scheme from Verance. Thomson's NexGuard is a type of video watermarking scheme which works with the help of the BD+ SVM. The BD+ content code embeds some invisible information in the video track which contains details of the player / drive used to decrypt the stream. If the video gets out and becomes a 'pirated copy', the watermark can be analyzed to determine the player / drive responsible for the 'piracy'. BD+ code in subsequent Blu-rays can be used to blacklist the player / add it to a revocation list.
So what happens if someone figures out how to get the video after it leaves the player? The watermark still shows up, and marks the player as being compromised?

All this stuff does is make piracy more convenient. You download the file, it sits on your hard drive, you play it wherever and whenever you want.
posted by delmoi at 3:13 PM on March 22, 2012


Also - the watermarks are based on audio? Couldn't you just record the video from a blueray and take audio from a DVD?
posted by delmoi at 3:14 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I must say that although I despise DRM, the fact that they developed an inaudible watermark that is still detectable on CAM releases using an on-camera mic is pretty impressive from a purely technical perspective. (Of course, the fact that they are then relying on specific playback software to enforce the DRM means it's all a ridiculous waste of money and effort, as the article points out.)
posted by whir at 3:29 PM on March 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


delmoi, from their description of Cinivia I don't see any reason why they couldn't also include the watermarked audio on the released DVD, which would prevent that attack even though DVD players themselves would ignore the watermark.
posted by whir at 3:31 PM on March 22, 2012


The biggest victory in the "DRM wars" was getting people (and maybe more importantly journalists) to call it DRM, instead of the old-fashioned "copy protection", which people knew and hated.

All of these same battles were fought in the 80s with floppy disk software and VHS tapes.
Between special disk controllers that could write hidden tracks and little black boxes to strip macrovision, just about every trick the manufacturers came up with failed, until it seemed, very briefly, that they'd seen the light and they stopped shipping (for the most part) consumer unfriendly nonsense.

But with the invention of the double-speak "DRM" it seems to have come back with a vengeance.
posted by madajb at 3:33 PM on March 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


I still can't support a supposedly high-definition media format with a name that suggests otherwise.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:35 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


The demo where they showed a CAMCORDER version of a movie being stopped by Cinivia was downright bizarre. I couldn't quite tell, but was it simply the *absence* of the audio watermark that stopped it? So, PS3's can't play "any old video" but only "authorized" videos? That's beyond lame. (err...no pun intended)
posted by ShutterBun at 3:37 PM on March 22, 2012




I finally told Netflix to stop sending me blu-rays after the 2nd or 3rd disc that had unskippable ads. I gave up trying after the fourth ad*. Between that and this shiny bag of crap, I'm pretty much done with the format. Pretty much all I use my blu-ray player for these days is Netflix streaming, which the studios are also trying to destroy. Way to turn away your legitimate customers, movie studios.

*And seriously! At least with VHS I could FF through all the ads at once, and when I rewound could make the player stop just after the last ad. The studios have made blu-ray worse than VHS! Impressive!
posted by dirigibleman at 3:45 PM on March 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


On re-reading, it appears that the player is indeed picking up the watermarked audio (which, as whir pointed out, is damn impressive) but it's stopping playback because the correct Volume ID (or some kind of decryption key) was not included in the stream. That makes sense. I wonder how many home movies will be disabled due to having a television set playing in the background.
posted by ShutterBun at 3:46 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I will own a Blu-Ray player when all this DRM is well, truly, and finally broken. More likely they will finally turn Blu-Ray into the DAT of its era and someone will come out with the equivalent of the recordable CD which will leapfrog it to become the real HD standard.
posted by localroger at 3:50 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


When will they get it through their heads that the pirates don't have to deal with their nonsense? You download the movie, you play the movie, the movie works, you smile. There's no downloading firmware updates to keep up with their arms race, there's no wondering why the two sides of your HDMI cable stopped talking to each other, there's no sitting through FBI Warnings or unskippable intros, there's no praying that you wiped off enough dust to stop the player from skipping on the remaining scratches... it just works. And no: everybody's player software is not going to turn itself off when it hears a Cinivia watermark.

The only reason why people with sense still pay for their videos is because they also have a moral sense that they should do so. But every time you get cheated by DRM-based breakage of something you paid for, that moral sense frays a little more...
posted by roystgnr at 3:50 PM on March 22, 2012 [24 favorites]


I wonder how many home movies will be disabled due to having a television set playing in the background.

Well, did you specifically get a license to remix that audio for your kid's birthday party? Of course it won't play back! It's because of you that WORKING-CLASS HOLLYWOOD GAFFERS are in the BREAD LINES!

The linked CNet Op-Ed on UltraViolet is worth a read, too (though ChurchHatesTucker's link covers basically the same thing more succinctly).
posted by whir at 3:52 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


How long until we see movies simply sold on USB thumb drives?
posted by LogicalDash at 4:03 PM on March 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Anyone who signs up for that ultraviolet thing is a chump. Obviously that service is going to die at some point, and leave everyone who uploaded anything screwed, just like many other DRM systems have been shut down, stranding users.
posted by delmoi at 4:06 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


How long until we see movies simply sold on USB thumb drives?

My plan is to release all my future documentaries on USB thumb drives, with options for Digital Download, Thumb Drive, Deluxe box with Thumb Drive. I hate Blu-Ray. I will never work with it.
posted by jscott at 4:07 PM on March 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


Sometimes I feel guilty about pirating movies. Stuff like this helps me through it.
posted by ryanrs at 4:12 PM on March 22, 2012 [13 favorites]


The demo where they showed a CAMCORDER version of a movie being stopped by Cinivia was downright bizarre. I couldn't quite tell, but was it simply the *absence* of the audio watermark that stopped it? So, PS3's can't play "any old video" but only "authorized" videos? That's beyond lame. (err...no pun intended)

The video was just a short clip that was protected by Cinivia. It picked up the echo pattern and immediately stopped.
posted by Talez at 4:27 PM on March 22, 2012


Yeah, this came up for me a few months ago playing back some, uh, content on my jailbroken PS3. I had to plug my MacBook Air into the TV to get around it. My sentiments on the matter.
posted by porn in the woods at 4:47 PM on March 22, 2012


My plan is to release all my future documentaries on USB thumb drives, with options for Digital Download, Thumb Drive, Deluxe box with Thumb Drive. I hate Blu-Ray. I will never work with it.

But then you'll have to start selling thumb drive players. (Of course, I think a lot of new bluray players have USB slots but you have to encode your video to a proper universal container, probably something like AVI files instead of MKV or M4V.)

I think movies on micro-SD chips are the way to go. So cute and tiny. Flat surface for printing movie title graphics. And they go up to 32 GB these days, which is more than a single-layer bluray disc.

I don't see why you can't make cheap SD card / Thumb-drive players out of something like this.
posted by jabberjaw at 4:50 PM on March 22, 2012


"How long until we see movies simply sold on USB thumb drives?"

The pirates are already one step ahead of Hollywood, if my most recent walk though the local Chinatown markets is any indication. The answer to your question is "at least 2 weeks ago".

(I wonder what adding phase delays of similarly short but randomly varying periods would do to the audio watermarking?)
posted by Pinback at 4:50 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I own a Blu-Ray player now and I hate it. I hate it so much that it has caused me to hate my hundreds of pre-Blu-Ray DVDs, too: I know they don't look as good as the few Blu-Ray discs I bought before deciding I hated the goddamn thing because I got sick of the firmware updates, buggy behavior, sluggish I'm-just-sorting-out-the-online-stuff-you-can't-turn-off-because-firmware-updates and unskippable ads.

Really, I guess I don't hate it any more or less than it clearly hates me.

All the hate forced me to ask myself why I even wanted to own physical copies, which is something I was asking myself anyhow, whenever I'd be scanning the shelves for something to play and come across ... stuff that is regrettable.

All the answers I've come up with have mainly involved my son, and him indirectly:

His mother and I once spent a year writing down every movie of the 400+ we watched that year. For a good four years, movies are what we did. Saturdays and Sundays spent at the theater. Weekends with stacks of tapes and then discs from the video store, then bought to go into the collection. He lives with two people who speak in references to things he's not allowed to watch yet. I could some day give him that list some day and say "watch up!" but I'd rather just let him have the collection and decide whether to get around to it or not, but knowing that if he chooses to remember us by dipping into that collection now and then, we'll briefly be with him again.

Since he's come along, though, the movie watching has slowed considerably and the current physical collection is easily winnowable to just the really good stuff. I don't even know what the prospects are of DVDs being playable in 30 years.

Whatever happens, physical media have been made a thorough, ridiculous drag. We have a Roku and an AppleTV with Netflix streaming, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu and the iTunes store. Most of what we watch these days is rented and streamed, a very few streamed things have been "purchased," for whatever value of "purchase" will even mean anything for any of it in five, ten or twenty years.

Meanwhile, the discs are in limbo on a shelf in the garage because I hate looking at them.
posted by mph at 4:58 PM on March 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


I still can't figure out why these weirdos keep trying to reinvent inferior versions of BitTorrent.

Did someone forget to tell them? They already know about BitTorrent, right? Someone should send them a copy of uTorrent and a link to TPB before they hurt themselves wasting a bazillion dollars.

Wait, they're still trying to use optical disks over a sneakernet!? How quaint. I guess if you're into 90s nostalgia... that's cool. I guess. They are shiny.
posted by loquacious at 5:01 PM on March 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think the conclusion we can draw from all this Blu-Ray should go fuck itself and I'll continue to pirate content.

Also Blu-Ray can go fuck itself.
posted by kbanas at 5:03 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, the thing about thumbdrives: They don't need to simply be 'dumb' storage. You'd actually be going back to the days of the NES where you can embed software, even special chips on USB drives.

So, rather then just including the data, you could include scrambled content that requires special hardware that's difficult to emulate with a traditional CPU to decode. Or you could just lock it down and allow users to stream content directly. You could have the thumb-drive sign/watermark the video to the specific thumb drive key as it goes, or even include information gleaned from the system using proprietary 'driver' software that the thumb-drive requires to be running in order to export data.

So really, there's way more opportunity for evil.

On the other hand, there's no 'consortium' dictating hardware. People releasing movies on flash won't be able to dictate the terms of the hardware design.

Which, come to think of it, probably means they'll never go for it. What they want is a secure platform. Nevermind the fact that they've never been able to stop pirates. The dream of a totally locked down player 'platform' still illuminates their fevered sleep.

Actually... you know what I just realized? I think I figured out what this is all really about. It's not to stop piracy at all.

---
If you think about it for a second, it seems confusing. All this ridiculous technology seems like it's designed to stop "hope taping", where one person copies a tape and gives it to a friend. But doesn't it seem like way overkill for that purpose?

This isn't like 1995 where you could just buy a macrovision filter and plug two VCRs into eachother. How would a regular user even go about making a copy of a movie for a friend? None of the software/hardware out there even has a 'record' button you can push. None of the consumer stuff really even has inputs for you to plug sources into. What consumer device could you buy, today, that would let you easily copy unprotected DVDs or blue-rays? (other then a PC, of course)

Now, let's look at this UltraViolet bullshit someone linked upthread. Here's the consumer "experience"
1) You bring in your DVD to walmart.
2) They setup an account for you and add the title for $3/$4
3) Now you can 'stream' the content (not download) to your iPad/Playstation/XBox.
4) after a year, you need to renew the license.
5) Oh, only standard def.
Lets keep in mind, you own the movie. You have the right to space shift and time shift and everything else. So why not just copy the video data onto an SD card, slap it on the player, and go?

Well the answer is obvious: DRM. DRM prevents you from doing it.

It's transparently obvious this won't stop torrents. And "home taping" is a non issue, consumer devices now don't even have the buttons to record, much less the connectors.

DRM creates a problem and studios/retailers are selling a solution They made a ton of money on the move from tapes to CDs, and they made money moving from tapes to VHS as people re-purchased their content. But no one bought SACDs, and Blue-Rays aren't that popular. And beyond HD, there's no real point in more pixels just for watching ordinary movies

So, rather then making money by re-selling the same films at higher quality, they're simply making money by selling different 'licenses' for different 'platforms'. New platform comes out? New license. Obviously your stuff won't transfer, of it does it's by the grace of the studio. It's not guaranteed.

And of course, they completely control which players will let you do what. Imagine if you could buy a device that would let you convert streaming movies to new formats. Well, all they have to do is revoke the player keys and ban it. The article on UltraViolet mentioned this Kaleidescape thing. Basically it rips your DVDs, then lets you view them on any of your devices, served from it's own hard drive. It doesn't violate copyright (in theory, maybe, someone might proxy the connections to one or two other homes, but how likely is that compared to, you know, bit torrent it). Anyway the studios shut it down. It's great for the consumer. But that's exactly what they don't want.

They want you to pay to space shift. Will it drive some people to piracy? Sure. But if you drive 5% to piracy, and increase revenues by 10% on the rest, they've made money..

That has to be it. None of this does a thing to stop mass internet piracy. Home taping is a non-issue, thanks to mass internet piracy, and the fact devices don't even have 'record' buttons anymore (let alone input connectors)

This is 100% about putting down roadblocks for people who are not tech savvy enough to figure out bittorent in order to get them to

Here's the thing. Everyone asks whether piracy is stealing. No one ever asks if restrictive DRM that takes away you legally have is stealing. Why not? If consumers have a moral obligation not to pirate, why don't movie studios and hardware companies have a moral obligation to let you access content that you've paid for, when you want, without ads, on whatever screen you want? No one asks if they are stealing from people by forcing hardware makers not to include 'record' features on devices. And no one asks if they are 'stealing' when they make deals with ISPs to monitor traffic and kick users off the internet.
posted by delmoi at 5:07 PM on March 22, 2012 [33 favorites]


I'm another one for whom all this copy protection crap scared me off the idea of switching to blu ray altogether. And since I didn't have blu ray, there wasn't any reason to make the move to HDTV either. And now since my computer monitor is much higher quality than my tv, I've gotten into the habit of just watching things there -- I can't see us replacing this tv when it finally dies; there'll be no point. (And god knows what kind of anti consumer crap they'll be stuffing into TVs by then, too.)

Congratulations, entertainment industry! You've very efficiently eased me permanently out of your customer base! That's hundreds and hundreds of dollars you've talked me out of spending on your products! Great job!
posted by ook at 5:19 PM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


He lives with two people who speak in references to things he's not allowed to watch yet. I could some day give him that list some day and say "watch up!" but I'd rather just let him have the collection and decide whether to get around to it or not, but knowing that if he chooses to remember us by dipping into that collection now and then, we'll briefly be with him again.
meanwhile, the MPEG1 VCD files I downloaded from my campus network in college are still sitting there on my latest external drive.

Actually, looking through my old backups of backups I just found an AVI file with a last modified date of November 11th, 1998.

It's not a pirated movie, rather, it's a clip I made with a pirated copy of 3D Studio Max. It was for a highschool class. The file opens and plays perfectly in VLC. (240p resolution)

I don't have the version of The Matrix that got leaked before the movie came out anymore, but I did find an AVI copy from the DVD release, file creation date 8/15/2000. 304p video. I also have Hackers. This one is dated 9/28/2000 and actually has 576 scanlines!

And of course, none of these have non-skippable ads :) I can copy them to any device, and if they don't play there I can transcode them into something that will. I can send them to friends, upload them to a server, whatever.

And, if i lost them in a hard drive crash? All I would need to do is grab a fresh copy off piratebay. I could get a 720p, h264 rip of The Matrix with about the same file size as my decades old AVI, or grab a 24GB torrent of all three movies at 1080p (thankfully, you can skip downloading the other two :)

Here's the thing: If you want to archive these videos, you have to pirate. Because archiving is the one thing they don't want people to do - they want people who don't know how to pirate to re-purchase the movies over and over again on new 'platforms'
posted by delmoi at 5:53 PM on March 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


I think movies on micro-SD chips are the way to go. So cute and tiny. Flat surface for printing movie title graphics. And they go up to 32 GB these days, which is more than a single-layer bluray disc.

I don't see why you can't make cheap SD card / Thumb-drive players out of something like this.
See, that's the thing. You totally can! You just have to be willing to pirate content to play on it.
posted by delmoi at 5:54 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm definitely a fan of the blu-ray format. Then again, I've never tried watching a movie directly from the disc! Anything I buy gets ripped as an .mkv file to an external HDD, which plugs right into our TV via USB. No unskippable previews, no scratched or missing discs, no loss of quality and movies begin playing almost instantly. Pretty much all of the good stuff and none of the bad, so I'm guessing it's totally illegal..
posted by jjoye at 6:27 PM on March 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


The net result is that almost every new Blu-ray fails to play back on a player if it doesn’t have the latest firmware updates. This is obviously a drawback for consumers who just want to put the disc in the tray and enjoy the movie.

Yeah, I think they heard the term "future proof" and totally misunderstood it.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:41 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here's the thing: If you want to archive these videos, you have to pirate. Because archiving is the one thing they don't want people to do - they want people who don't know how to pirate to re-purchase the movies over and over again on new 'platforms'

Exactly. If you buy a film on VHS, then buy it on DVD, then buy it on Blu-Ray, then finally pirate it so you can watch it on your fucking iPhone, the content industry will send their copyright lawyers after you. You shared bits representing 1/1000th of that movie with an anti-piracy software bot they ran, so now you need to be reprimanded

Whatever your position on intellectual property, it's the responsibility of everyone to try to defund and thereby declaw these greedy, pointless corporations that think you should pay them $25 every time you want to [cmd-c] -> [cmd-v] your own data on your own devices, hopefully on top a monthly fee so they don't take your stuff away
posted by crayz at 7:13 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


On the issue of piracy, I was wondering today if it extends to foods.

You know, say I get a piece of ginger from the store. I cut that ginger into pieces, I grow many ginger plants, and share those with other people for free. I'm technically cutting into the profit of the ginger-producers, right?

Same with garlic. Split the bulb into pieces, grow my own, give it away for free. Will I get sued for some sort of food piracy?

Food for thought.
posted by Malice at 7:25 PM on March 22, 2012


I cut that ginger into pieces, I grow many ginger plants, and share those with other people for free. I'm technically cutting into the profit of the ginger-producers, right?

Plant breeders rights...
posted by Jimbob at 7:30 PM on March 22, 2012


All I know is, I've gotten annoyed enough about the menus and whatnot that I've been known to download and watch bittorrents of movies I already own, just because the whole ads-ads-ads-ads-ads-ads-menu-movie paradigm is tedious. And I don't even download movies from bittorrent that I don't own.
posted by davejay at 7:31 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Same with garlic. Split the bulb into pieces, grow my own, give it away for free. Will I get sued for some sort of food piracy?

possibly
posted by delmoi at 7:43 PM on March 22, 2012


Same with garlic. Split the bulb into pieces, grow my own, give it away for free. Will I get sued for some sort of food piracy?

possibly


I can't find a link for this (I didn't search hard, I'm sure it's out there) but I've heard anecdotally that strains of peppers, specifically the Bhut Jolokia (Ghost Pepper), are patented, or at least regulated, so that you can't commercially sell "copies."
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 7:48 PM on March 22, 2012


Which is pretty much F'd.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 7:48 PM on March 22, 2012


Well - considering all the evil Monsanto does with their seeds and distribution and using the law to enforce their own "copyright" on plants, I'd say "yeah - it does happen in the food world".
posted by symbioid at 7:59 PM on March 22, 2012


I can't find a link for this (I didn't search hard, I'm sure it's out there) but I've heard anecdotally that strains of peppers, specifically the Bhut Jolokia (Ghost Pepper), are patented, or at least regulated, so that you can't commercially sell "copies."

It's likely a plant patent, which are quite a bit different from ordinary patents (technically known as utility patents).
posted by jedicus at 8:26 PM on March 22, 2012


I'm guessing the Next Big Thing will be discs made of cardboard, which act as a comfort blanket and a distraction while the actual data stream is in the cloud, and you "buy" it by purchase time-sensitive decryption keys that only work for short periods - or not all if your TV lacks an untampered security box to watermark the display with your name and location.
Shock troops will make raids for copyright infringement. Wait, they already do.
It'll be just like out of the movie "Brazil". If it isn't already.
posted by -harlequin- at 8:29 PM on March 22, 2012


because the whole ads-ads-ads-ads-ads-ads-menu-movie paradigm is tedious.

I bet this is because more people rent from netflix and redbox etc than buy, so they're no-longer catering to buyers.

Which is weird, because it suggests at least one head of the beast is aware that netflix is something people like, and maybe there might be gold in that, and maybe they shouldn't be trying so hard to drag it down to the level of their own failware.

Or maybe they just want to kill the goose that lays (small) golden eggs to get the big gold that surely must lie within?
posted by -harlequin- at 8:37 PM on March 22, 2012


The solution to every single iteration of this crap is this: a device that plugs between the HDMI output and sound outputs of the player, and the display/audio device(s), with a cable off of that into the USB input of another computer which is running a "sniffer" program. Having "sniffed" the video and audio data as raw bits (all hundreds of GB of that) it can then decode them into a sensible raw video/audio format, which can then in turn be compressed into a useful format like MKV.

If you can see it and hear it, you can copy it.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 8:52 PM on March 22, 2012


I've been known to download and watch bittorrents of movies I already own

Peter Serafinowicz is OK with you doing this.
posted by ShutterBun at 9:01 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I own a Blu-Ray player now and I hate it.

Yep, I've had one for a while and hated it since the moment I got it. Fucking thing LOADS the movie into memory (well, that's what it feels like). I gotta sit there and wait like two, three minutes before I'm at the menu screen. Betamax was instant. It's 2012 and I'm installing Windows ME from floppies. Piece of shit. Plug a USB stick into the port on the front, though, and the movie I pirated loads instantaneously and looks just as good. Could I rip my Blu-rays and put them on the USB? Could I fuck *kicks own dick*
posted by tumid dahlia at 9:14 PM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


a service that does basically nothing except inconvenience legitimate consumers. Is this not a scam?

Well, when you get right down to it, the major difference between legitimate business and organized crime is 218 votes in the House and 51 in the Senate.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:25 PM on March 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


Sniffing the data between your Blu-ray player and tv is not quite as easy as it sounds because of HDCP.

Of course HDCP was cracked in 2010, and of course nobody actually pirates movies by sniffing the uncompressed video stream. (see the "home taping" comment above)
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 9:47 PM on March 22, 2012


I'm probably, like, the only person who puts in the blu-ray and then goes and grabs a drink while all that useless stuff is happening, right? Streaming really needs to up its game before I rely on it, and there are many blu-rays I own that offer a higher standard for picture and sound than most any theater in the area.

(Also, I've never encountered these unskippable ads. I just hit the fast forward button and they're gone in a couple of seconds.)
posted by beaucoupkevin at 10:24 PM on March 22, 2012


For a year I was the lead production software engineer putting BD+ protection on Blu-Ray discs. I saw first-hand how it punished legit users and did very little to affect pirates.

It was a tightly coupled adversarial system: Pirates figured out how to break version N of BD+, a few weeks or months later version N+1 of BD+ would be released; repeat. And the conflict was almost personal: There was basically one guy, outside the U.S., who kept cracking BD+, and we all knew his name. Without him, the group I worked in wouldn't have needed half the people it had working in R&D. Our reverse engineers would analyze the cracking software that he came up with by reverse engineering our software.

Meanwhile users had to deal with Blu-ray discs that were heavy with Java code that took forever to load, especially in hardware players that probably run Java about as well as your phone does. When BD+ changes, bugs are exposed in some vendors' implementation of the Blu-ray spec, and now your new disc won't play until you update your player's firmware. Or there was a bug in BD+ and you need to update your firmware for a workaround. Or there is a bug in BD+ or in the player and there is no update available yet and your disc won't play. Or maybe BD+, because it's designed to be paranoid, activates when it sees a suspicious timezone offset on the player's clock and you happen to live in New Zealand during Daylight Savings Time (UTC+13) and so the disc you bought won't play.

And despite all that effort pirates almost always get their hands on a Blu-ray with version N+1 of BD+ weeks before the disc is officially released, and there's a rip on torrent sites before you can buy it in a store.

In the end the studios didn't seem to care about more than the first month of a disc's sales anyway. I thought they would have significantly hurt the pirate's businesses if they just gave everyone the secret code to unlock the disc after a month. If you knew you could get the pure, raw video streams in a month would you bother paying $80/year for an AnyDVD HD subscription?

One thing Blu-ray has going for it is the quality: those discs can look beautiful.
posted by jjwiseman at 10:52 PM on March 22, 2012 [15 favorites]


My Blu-ray player died. It was just over 2 years old. I don't know when I'm going to bother replacing it. Fastest I ever had a name-brand consumer electronic device just up and die on me. And it's software, not hardware. Known issue, out of warranty, and I'd rather get a new make and model than pay to fix or replace the current POS.

My HD-DVD player still works fine.
posted by thecjm at 12:31 AM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


What really pisses me off is when discs include an unskippable FBI warning outside the FBI's jurisdiction (like where I live...)
posted by Harald74 at 1:06 AM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


The DVD/Blu-Ray industry is the only medium that employs this front-loading of ads on its products. I can't quite recall any time when I've bought a CD and had to listen to several previews of other albums before it starts. Or bought a book that had pages of ads before the story starts.

I like to have a physical copy of films and I like to buy DVDs and Blu-rays. However, I find it increasingly frustrating when I buy a title that forces unskippable ads and previews on me. Oh and also cycled menu screens where the pointless animated menu sequence runs for about 3 times - and then starts the film whether you like it or not.

We have more control over the content with books and CDs. DVDs and Blu-Rays, not so much. I suspect this situation isn't going to change in the short term.

It's actually making me consider downloading the films or ripping the discs I already own. This is an industry that's out of touch with its market.
posted by panboi at 2:16 AM on March 23, 2012


What really pisses me off is when discs include an unskippable FBI warning outside the FBI's jurisdiction (like where I live...)


I think you're kidding yourself there ...
posted by fistynuts at 3:15 AM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


However, I find it increasingly frustrating when I buy a title that forces unskippable ads and previews on me.
Relevant pic.
posted by amuseDetachment at 3:50 AM on March 23, 2012


The DVD/Blu-Ray industry is the only medium that employs this front-loading of ads on its products.

Nope. Magazines.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:18 AM on March 23, 2012


The DVD/Blu-Ray industry is the only medium that employs this front-loading of ads on its products.

Nope. Magazines.


Didn't those die?
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:25 AM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


What really pisses me off is when discs include an unskippable FBI warning outside the FBI's jurisdiction (like where I live...)
I think you're kidding yourself there ...


By reminding me you made me sad. I just hope the Norwegian authorities have more backbone than the British...
posted by Harald74 at 6:13 AM on March 23, 2012


Or bought a book that had pages of ads before the story starts.

Well, there was that German translation of a Terry Pratchett novel that had Rincewind sit down to a nice cup of [brandname] soup, so rich and filling.

Oddly enough, Pratchett's novels are now at a different German publisher.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:57 AM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder how much of the cost of a Blu-ray is tied up in the DRM and the fancy menus and ads. I mean, if they could get rid of all that junk and emulate the experience that a person gets with they pirate a movie (put disc in player→player takes a second to read the disc→maybe a minimal menu→movie starts) would they be able make the same profit and sell the movie for $10 instead of $20?

I would guess that the increase in demand from a price drop like that would more than make up for any decrease in profits. I don't understand why no one has tried it.
posted by VTX at 7:43 AM on March 23, 2012


The easiest solution is to just quit watching those movies and using that equipment.
posted by unixrat at 7:57 AM on March 23, 2012


I don't understand why no one has tried it.

Because the idea that people are watching movies without paying drives them into such a frothy, berzerk fury that they fixate on the idea that their priority must be to stop people from watching movies without paying, rather than actually maximizing their own profits, like they're going for in every other context.

...or, at least, that's the only way I've been able to make any sense of it.
posted by Zed at 7:58 AM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think Zed is correct...at least from where I'm sitting, the studios have never been rational about copy protection our piracy in general. It's like an intellectual blind spot for them, they can't do the obvious thing that would probably make them more money--demonstrated by the recent success of drm free music--because they're unhealthily obsessed with "protecting" their content. I suspect they'll protect that stuff right down to their bankruptcy filling, unfortunately; like Gollum living in the cave, they've become corrupted by the precious, but are seemingly powerless to do anything about it.

Like the music industry, the movie studios need to be killed in order to be saved--probably by an outsider who won't have the same blind spots. But having seen the music industry go, and just generally having more resources, they're dragging it out a lot longer.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:43 AM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had no idea Bluray players were such a PITA. It's really ridiculous.

BTW, this device will allow you to play your HDCP "protected" content on a device which does not have HDMI inputs (VGA and component). There are also a few companies out there right now that offer capture cards with component inputs, thus providing another route from Bluray -> digital copy.

It's also only a matter of time before some sort of DSP can be developed to thwart that fingerprinting.
posted by nTeleKy at 10:27 AM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


For those who have Blueray Disks and hate them, why not rip your own? It's completely legal. You can encode them in h264 and play them on a cheapo PC with HDMI output.

I just got this little bluetooth keyboard for my laptop, so I could watch movies/TV while working out. It works just as well as any TV remote would and while using the the trackpad as a mouse isn't as easy as using a real mouse navigating around windows explorer with it in order to load files into VLC is a lot simpler then navigating tons of menus using buttons and arrows on a remote control.

It's clunky, it's not beautiful, but it's way better then the crap you guys are putting up with. If you can afford all these expensive players you can afford a netbook with a hardware h264 decoder and a bluetooth keyboard, I'm sure! (the keyboard came with it's own bluetooth USB dongle, btw)
posted by delmoi at 10:56 AM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


bugs are exposed in some vendors' implementation of the Blu-ray spec

It's not helpful either that the Blu-Ray system specs are HUGE and FURIOUSLY COMPLEX; they're not easy to implement, particularly when BD-Live and BD+ keep on exploring obscure corners of the spec.

(It's been a few years since I was involved in the industry, but FWIW back then there were really only a few Blu-Ray stack implementations -- a few of the top-tier manufacturers had in-house implementations, the rest licensed implementations from one of a handful of third-party vendors. I can't imagine it's changed much since.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:40 AM on March 23, 2012


this device will allow you to play your HDCP "protected" content on a device which does not have HDMI inputs

They're on somewhat shaky ground legally wrt "circumvention devices", as their own pages admit (but then also defend): HDCP Strippers Legality and HDCP, DMCA and us.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:45 AM on March 23, 2012


BTW, this device will allow you to play your HDCP "protected" content on a device which does not have HDMI inputs

So would (presumably) most HDMI to VGA adapters, no? Or does the HDFury product contain it's own HDCP "handshaking" chip, to fool the player into thinking everything's kosher?
posted by ShutterBun at 10:46 PM on March 23, 2012


So would (presumably) most HDMI to VGA adapters, no? Or does the HDFury product contain it's own HDCP "handshaking" chip, to fool the player into thinking everything's kosher?

The cheap HDMI-to-VGA adapters don't have any complex circuitry, because they just take advantage of the existing analog signal that's included in some HDMI implementations alongside the digital signal. I'm not sure that this is actually compliant with the HDMI spec, because looking at the pinout, there's no connectors reserved for analog... so I'm not sure how they do it. It must basically be, "if no HDMI handshake, send VGA down the wire." Pretty kludgy. And I don't think most HDMI source devices do it, anyway.

The "right" way to do HDMI to VGA (or analog RGB, or whatever), in terms of a solution that will work with all HDMI sources, is with a scaler. And yes, it would actually perform the HDMI handshake, receive the digital signal, and convert it to the desired analog format. These devices are fairly pricey, though, and if they're compliant with the HDMI spec they won't give you a particularly high quality analog output.

The HDMI encryption (HDCP) strippers generally work similar to a scaler, except that they output decrypted HDMI or DVI (which is the same thing, electrically) instead of analog video. This is a violation of the HDMI spec, so they have always existed in a grey area. When HDCP was designed, the evil not-so-geniuses responsible foresaw the (rather obvious) market for decryptors, and actually baked in a way of revoking individual device keys so that noncompliant devices could be rendered useless over time. For a few years, if you had a decryptor, you lived at the mercy of the HDMI goons and the possibility that they might revoke your device's key. Thankfully, in 2010 a master key for HDCP was discovered, so there's no longer a reliable way to do that.

The HDFury presents itself to the HDMI source as a compliant HDMI High Definition display. But instead of actually displaying the signal after decrypting it, it outputs it on another port. In effect, it's a MITM attack on the source device.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:01 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


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