Blu-Ray's Managed Copy Appears To Be Another Hollywood Disaster In The Making

from the could-it-get-any-more-ridiuclous? dept

One of the major reasons why Blu-ray is still struggling to catch on (despite winning the long drawn out victory over competing format HD-DVD) is that you’re extremely limited in what you can do with Blu-ray content. In an era when people are used to being able to move content and time- and place-shift it at will, Blu-ray is quite limiting. This has become a growing concern to those in Hollywood who thought Blu-ray was going to be its savior. Unfortunately, the response is being equally bungled by Hollywood. The key concept is the idea of “managed copies,” which (in theory) will let users make limited DRM’d copies for time- and place-shifting.

Of course, that assumes that the offering actually works. And right now it’s nearly impossible to tell. Jerry Leichter alerts us to a story of one small studio that’s trying to implement “managed copy” offerings and is finding it to be nearly impossible. The instructions on how to do it are not at all clear, and the studio is not getting much in the way of help from those behind the standard. Furthermore, there’s simply no way to test to see if they’re doing it right, since there’s no equipment that can handle managed copies yet. And this is from a studio, Scenic Labs, that believes DRM is pointless and “piracy is going to happen.” So why is it even bothering? It basically has no choice. If you’re creating commercial Blu-ray discs, this is the only option you get: it must include this poorly documented DRM if you want to offer a copyable version.

Of course, there is one alternative. As the head of the studio notes, if they screwed up the process, they have no interest in remastering the discs, so they’ll just ask buyers to send a cameraphone photo of the purchased DVD, and they’ll send them a digital file over the internet.

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Comments on “Blu-Ray's Managed Copy Appears To Be Another Hollywood Disaster In The Making”

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46 Comments
chris (profile) says:

Re: Re: that's better

I’m willing to bet one of the BitTorrent users will be first in line to buy a copy and MSM a photo as they walk out of the shop. You’ll be able to download the file from BT that evening.

blue ray discs are already on BT right now, often a week or two before retail release. there is no need for camera phone shenanigans.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: that's better

I wish you hadn’t said it like that, you’re scaring all the people in Hollywood or the people hired to protect them.

A better way to put it is: No matter what security measures a BluRay is given, a single dedicated hacker can show the online(more specifically geeky) world how to circumvent each of these measures. Some of that world includes pirates who like to distribute free content. When these people watch, they will rip and up every BluRay movie that they couldn’t figure out how to while “New Security X” was stopping them.

No matter what the studios try or are told to try by “content rights protecting agencies” one way or another, it will quickly become possible for people to pirate their content once more. But where does this leave the legitimate consumer? Don’t the studios feel bad for our parents, or grandparents? They will never figure out how to use their store bought BluRay movies as advertised because it’s not as easy as VHS or even that DVD thing they just got the hang of.

chris (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 that's better

I wish you hadn’t said it like that, you’re scaring all the people in Hollywood or the people hired to protect them.

sorry. how does this sound:

game over. you lose.

A better way to put it is: No matter what security measures a BluRay is given…

that’s a fallacy. you don’t need to be a geek. you don’t even need to know a geek. you don’t even have to know a college student. you just have to know how to use google.

No matter what the studios try or are told to try by “content rights protecting agencies” one way or another, it will quickly become possible for people to pirate their content once more.

correct me if i am wrong, but sounds like you think filesharing was interrupted some how. all of these copy protection measures have no effect on filesharing. the copies uploaded to BT either never had DRM on them, or had the DRM stripped prior to upload.

all copy protections do is drive more legitimate customers to file sharing. 4 years ago, i was lucky to see 500 seeders listed on a public tracker for a really popular movie. today, there are tens of thousands on the new releases. DRM not only fails to stop piracy, it’s actively encouraging it.

Nastybutler77 (profile) says:

Not only are they making it difficult to have legal copies, but now some studios are looking to further limit the “Digital Copy” that some DVDs and BluRays come with that allow you to transfer a copy of the movie to your computer or iPod. I was looking at the “Inglorious Basterds” BluRay description on Amazon and noticed that the Digital Copy is only good through 12/31/10. So now they’ve put expiration dates on something that should be a staple of all physical movies. Way to take away value Hollywood! That’ll keep ’em coming back for more!

richshelton (profile) says:

The digital copy expiration is only for activation...

but it’s still stupid deadline. Once activated, the copy should work forever (assuming the DRM servers stay online, company doesn’t fold, etc). The digital copy is on a disc in the package already but you only have until a certain date to “activate” it (which means iTunes or whatever adds the DRM using your account info and the redeemable code with the disc). It’s an artificial limitation that doesn’t make sense. What if I buy the disc after the deadline? I now have a disc with content I can’t access. By the time of the deadline date, the movie will already be well past the airing on premium cable window anyway (and will have been rentable/Netflixable for longer).

PRMan (profile) says:

Re: The digital copy expiration is only for activation...

No, it only lasts as long as your PC hardware.

I have DVDs that I have had for 13 years now. But my PCs typically only last 3-5 years. After that, say goodbye to your “managed copy”.

I’ll just buy a Blu-Ray drive, get a copy of AnyDVD HD and do it the old-fashioned way.

Anonymous Coward says:

DRM is pointless. The ‘copy protection’ on blu-ray movies was cracked long ago, and full DRM-free copies of HD movies can be downloaded from the internet long before copies hit store shelves. The previously mentioned ‘Inglorious Basterds’ is scheduled for release tomorrow, Dec 12. The full blu-ray image has been on the net since Nov 30, for those who know where to find it, and have the desire to download a 44.5GB file.

The only thing accomplished by putting DRM on any form of media is frustrating the paying customer.

Richard (profile) says:

Blu ray is pointless

Blu ray is pointless anyway. Technically (DRM aside) it’s not needed to play the HD content – a HDD PVR or computer will do that perfectly fine. Optical drives are losing the race with HDD and flash memory anyway – and are close to obsolescence.
When CDs arrived in the early 80’s they were 60x the size of a contemporary consumer HDD. DVDs in the late 90’s were around the same size as a contemporary HDD.
Now a blu-ray at around 25-50GB is less than 1/20th of a typical HDD and comparable to a $30 flash drive.

I know that multi-layer blu-rays are predicted (~400GB) – but by the time they arrive the HDD’s and flash memories will be even further ahead.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Blu ray is pointless

Well strictly – as a means of moving data around – with present network limitations Blu ray makes some sense – however – once you have the data you would probably like to throw the disc away. Given past trends you probably won’t have the equipment to play it long term anyway.

The thing is that the format war would have been irrelevant but for DRM which ties content to a physical object.

chris (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Blu ray is pointless

Good luck finding an ISP that’ll let you download that much data in a single session…

the terabyte external hard drive has replaced the DVDR as the weapon of mass destruction for intellectual property.

the internet is great for getting new stuff, especially if you have the hookup on a tracker that your friends don’t, but external drives via small world networks are the best way to move tons of stuff.

Murdoch's #37 fan says:

Mike, I find it interesting that you hit this story, and not the other story about how Hollywood is now including flippable or second copies of bluray movies on DVD in the same case, and often offering a digital version for phone or PC use as well.

I really think your intention is to make the media companies look bad, and never mention the good things they are doing to meet customer demands.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Mike, I find it interesting that you hit this story, and not the other story about how Hollywood is now including flippable or second copies of bluray movies on DVD in the same case, and often offering a digital version for phone or PC use as well.

I believe that story is linked in the above post. And that’s what much of this post is about.

I really think your intention is to make the media companies look bad, and never mention the good things they are doing to meet customer demands.

When we see media companies doing smart things we are quick to mention it.

Murdoch's #37 fan says:

Re: oh you mean like

You are giving yourself away by not knowing how to use the “reply to this comment” button on multiple threads.

As for the articles you are pointing to, well, let’s just say that most of it has already been shown to be less than informative, less than complete, and that Mike’s conclusions on at least some of it may be somewhat misleading (or wishful thinking).

Please try to stay on topic, rather than jumping up and down like a 12 year old on a sugar high pointing an unrelated items.

Almost Anonymous (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: oh you mean like

“””
Mate, it is a well known fact that Mike is biased towards the consumer. If you want balanced news, you may want to start reading foxnews.com.
“””

The mind boggles. Tell me, in your universe, does the sun set in the east? Do people brush their teeth with cow patties?

Anyway, I prefer my universe, where being biased towards consumers is not a bad thing, and foxnews.com is about as un-balanced as a site can be without actually falling of the intarwebs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: oh you mean like

“As for the articles you are pointing to, well, let’s just say that most of it has already been shown to be less than informative, less than complete, and that Mike’s conclusions on at least some of it may be somewhat misleading (or wishful thinking).”

Please substantiate.

RD says:

Holy cow batman!

Wow! The spread of pure BULLSHINE in this post is amazing! I never knew it was possible to be so wrong about so many things that are simple to verify:

“Now a blu-ray at around 25-50GB is less than 1/20th of a typical HDD and comparable to a $30 flash drive.”

Please, pray tell, where can you buy a 50gb flash drive? and where can you get that for the $30? You cant even get a 32gb drive for anywhere near that yet.

“Mike, I find it interesting that you hit this story, and not the other story about how Hollywood is now including flippable or second copies of bluray movies on DVD in the same case”

Haha good one! No, you see, that ended the micro SECOND the competing format (HDDVD) was no longer a competitor. Sure, SOME people might offer this here and there, but it is NOT widespread or even a selling point of BluRay, AT ALL.

“I have DVDs that I have had for 13 years now. But my PCs typically only last 3-5 years. After that, say goodbye to your “managed copy”.

While I appreciate the sentiment in helping the argument against these DRM encrusted copies, DVD’s have, in fact, only been around 12 years (1997 barely, there were only about 25 movies that came out at launch for the remainder of the that year) and burnable DVD’s a bit less than that (unless you were RICH as hell back in 1998 and had 5 figures to buy a burner and north of $20 per disc)

Its all well and good to get frothy at the prospect of these ridiculous DRM limited media, but wild exaggerations arent going to win people over. Might want to pull it back just a bit. Thanks.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Holy cow batman!

“Now a blu-ray at around 25-50GB is less than 1/20th of a typical HDD and comparable to a $30 flash drive.”

Please, pray tell, where can you buy a 50gb flash drive? and where can you get that for the $30? You cant even get a 32gb drive for anywhere near that yet.

When I say comparable I mean just that – a 16G drive is about $30 and not far short of the bottom end of Blu ray (about 25G) give it a year or two…

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: Holy cow batman!

>> “Now a blu-ray at around 25-50GB is less than 1/20th of a
>> typical HDD and comparable to a $30 flash drive.”
>
> Please, pray tell, where can you buy a 50gb flash drive?
> and where can you get that for the $30? You cant even get > a 32gb drive for anywhere near that yet.

He’s stretching a bit but not too much. A 32G flash drive is more like $60 assuming you can’t find some doorbuster sale at Frys. The point is still perfectly valid though. We are still rapidly reaching the point where “cheap portable random access media” is big enough for BluRay main feature.

We have seen MP3 come and go as something that can choke a PC or laptop harddrive and now standard definition video is quickly being eclipsed by the average new hard drive size. Soon it will be BluRay’s turn.

Something else that is in the mix is relatively cheap 500G laptop hard drives in small bus powered portable cases.

TDR says:

Just a comment in regards to physical media’s alleged obselesence. I wouldn’t claim that just yet. It’s still useful for backup purposes. After all, I don’t much care to have to redownload tens of gigs of data after a system crash when it would be easier to just reinstall many of the programs from their original discs. Download speeds just aren’t fast enough, at least in the US, for large amounts of data to be transmitted in a short amount of time.

Also, if the cloud fails (or if you’re unable to get online for whatever reason), what then? Where, then, will you go, if you have no physical backup to restore from? I don’t know about you, but I don’t like my backup capability being restricted to having to be online to do so. And I’ve had too many computers die on me over the years to trust hard drives too much.

Anonymous Coward says:

Another Perspective

Before you throw in the towel on Blu-Ray, I offer some observations (i.e., what I have actually seen).

(1) The Blu-Ray section at my local Sam’s Club keeps growing. The end-of-the-aisle display that was once devoted to new movies has been switched to new Blu-Ray movies. The once itty-bitty Blu-Ray section has grown to about 20% the length of the movie aisle.

(2) It seems to me that the space devoted to Blu-Ray discs has grown the fastest in the last six months.

(3) Early this year I looked at the single Blu-Ray player at Sam’s Club. It was about $280. They had a teeny section devoted to them and they were not selling them quickly. Last weekend I noted that my Sam’s Club had a $78 Blu-Ray player in an aisle-end display. The display was getting a fair amount of attention and while the players might not have been “flying” off the shelves, they were being sold in what appeared to be significant quantities. My Sam’s Club now offers the same number of Blu-Ray players as standard DVD players.

(4) If the current growth continues (extrapolating from what I have seen this year), I estimate that by Christmas of next year that Blu-Ray will take up 40 to 50% of the video aisle at Sam’s Club.

(5) My local Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart has started offering $10 Blu-Ray movies. While Blu-Ray players are not “flying” off the shelves, the cheap Blu-Ray movies are.

Conclusion: Just a bit too early to sound the death of Blu-Ray. It seems to be gaining momentum. Incidentally, there were those who sounded the death of DVD’s early on (too expensive, too complicated, not enought movies, players cost too much, you cannot record on DVD, etc.), but Laser Disc is gone, Beta is gone, and VHS is gone.

DaveBG says:

Much, much hilarity to be had here, in both the original piece and some of the comments.

First off, sorry “dudes” but I think too many of you geek types put far too much emphasis on this kind of stuff. Take a deep breath, a step back, and then realise that just because you’re torrenting and having wet dreams about “everything on the cloud!” you’re a teeny, tiny sub-niche compared to the average consumer who has neither the time or the inclination to delve into your seedy little world and is far happier picking up a disc and sticking it in a player. Those at the fringe might whinge and whine about DRM but the consumer leviathan didn’t, doesn’t, and probably never will, care.

Secondly, those comparing “$30” Blu-Ray discs to $30-40-50-60 SD cards. You do realise that a “$30” Blu-Ray has a movie on it right? And that you can buy a 15 pack of 25GB Blu-Ray discs for $35 from Amazon? Just to spell it out, that’s $2.33 for 25GB, copared to $30 for 16GB SD card. “Give it a year or two”? Do you reckon Blu-Ray blank prices will have stayed the same, or do you think they might just drop like CDs and DVDs have? Fact is, even with the oversupply problems that have caused manufacturers to scythe SD card prices over the last 3 years or so, they’ve never EVER managed to get anywhere near the price/GB of optical media. The incumbent optical format ALWAYS wins, and nothing coming down the pipe in SD/SSD production is going to reduce costs by the order of magnitude needed to compete any time soon.

Lastly, the ones talking gleefully about the death of physical on the altar of HD and SD storage – truly hilarious. Here’s a clue – are they abstract media? Virtual media perhaps? Unbelievable.

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