Kaleidescape Introduces Expensive And Almost Pointless Blu-ray Jukebox… And Hollywood Still Thinks It's Illegal

from the controlling-innovation dept

You may recall the legal fight over Kaleidescape. The company built a ridiculously expensive (tens of thousands of dollars) DVD jukebox that was clearly designed not for unauthorized file sharing, but for those with a huge disposable income to store their DVDs on the device so it was easier to watch or playback any DVD they owned (you couldn’t transfer the movies off the device, so it was useless for further copying). Of course, as usually happens, Hollywood got upset, saying that this process of backing up your DVDs was illegal, using a twisted argument that the encryption on DVDs was broken by this system, and thus it’s a violation of the DMCA. This is a massive problem with the DMCA’s anti-circumvention clause, which says that even if the copy itself is legal, if it involves encryption, the process of making that (legal) copy, becomes illegal.

While Kaleidescape won in the lower court, the appeals court reversed, highlighting again how Hollywood (despite claims it would never use copyright law to block technology) uses the legal system to block technological innovation.

Kaleidescape has now come out with a new product that actually adds the ability to store Blu-ray discs as well — which might be a surprise given last summer’s ruling. However, in response to the ruling, Kaleidescape added one “feature” which it hopes will satisfy Hollywood lawyers: to play back a movie, you now have to put the original disc into the player. Yes, you read that right. This is a device designed to rip and store your DVDs — and the only way you can play them back is to go ahead and put the actual DVD into the player to prove that you have it. In other words, it takes away the whole idea of the convenience behind the product.

And, guess what? Hollywood still isn’t happy.

The AACS technology and licenses do not permit ripping of Blu-ray discs unless the copy has been authorized by the content owner, either by setting the Copy Control Information appropriately (and nearly all BD movies are set for ?Copy Never?, just like DVDs), or by individual authorization through the Managed Copy process, which we anticipate rolling out at the end of this year or the beginning of 2011.

This is exactly what the law is not supposed to do. It’s letting Hollywood set the terms of technological innovation, and blocking any concept of fair use or backup copies that are recognized as legal. It’s giving Hollywood a veto on technology, and causing tech companies to jump through ridiculous hoops to disable obvious functionality, just because Hollywood doesn’t like what it does.

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Companies: kaleidescape, mpaa

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Comments on “Kaleidescape Introduces Expensive And Almost Pointless Blu-ray Jukebox… And Hollywood Still Thinks It's Illegal”

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Another AC says:

Re: 'Puter

…or any geek with funds and a media pc/server combo with terabytes(read multiple) of storage and the right software, can rip/copy their entire library and watch them.
Considering the cost of storage and hardware today, this seems more feasible than an expensive one off type of device…
Just saying…….

Hulser (profile) says:

Leary v. United States

This is a massive problem with the DMCA’s anti-circumvention clause, which says that even if the copy itself is legal, if it involves encryption, the process of making that (legal) copy, becomes illegal.

IANAL, but this seems very similar to Leary v. United States, the case that overturned the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act. (At the time marijuana wasn’t illegal, but the Act made it effectively illegal because it required a special stamp. If caught with marijuana, you weren’t charged with illegal possession, you were charged for not having the stamp.)

I know the situations aren’t a perfect match, but they seem to have basically the same model.

“Oh, no, pot isn’t illegal. We never said that. It’s just transporting it without this special stamp that is illegal.”

“Oh, no, backing up your own DVD isn’t illegal. We never said that. It’s just that in order to back up your DVD you need to break our encryption and that’s illegal.”

It just seems to me that we have a clear precedent in place that you can’t circumvent a right by the outlawing a key component of exercising that right.

Derek Bredensteiner (profile) says:

Re: Just Sayin...

It’s incomprehensible. Either they have no clue what they’re competing with and how awesomely convenient and easy it is, or their heads are buried so deep in the sand that they think the competition is stoppable or doesn’t really exist.

Let’s just pretend that alternatives don’t exist, make our products crappier and people will have to buy them. And obviously sue into oblivion anyone that dares to make our own products slightly competitive.

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Sure, and it is bad that they have this sort of influence on the legislation. The legislation is bad and should be readdressed. But wording of the article makes it seem like it is bad that they are *using* this law, whereas actually, that is good IMO. It helps people see how retarded the law is and increases the chances that it get fixed before they build further on them with even worse laws and make it even more difficult to fix.

Ben says:

Re: Re:

Sorry, BUT..
In the USofA the people no longer have ANY control over “their” gummermint!

It now belongs the the big corporate johns who patronize the whores in Washington.

Let me say this in no uncertain terms, I love America but I detest this criminal conspiracy that masquerades as a government.

Ryan says:

Re: Re: Re:

Let me say this in no uncertain terms, I love America but I detest this criminal conspiracy that masquerades as a government.

What do you mean, “masquerading” as a government? This is exactly what activist governments do – do you think the U.S. government is the only one? If the government doesn’t cater to special interests (which includes all types of lobbying and advocacy groups, not just corporations), it’s because it already has so much power over the people that it doesn’t need them. It’s not like politicians as a whole are any more honorable than “greedy” CEOs, racketeering union bosses, or anybody else.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

The purpose of the DMCA was never to protect copyright but to protect business models. It’s purpose has always been to eliminate any technological advancement. To stop the next player piano, the next radio, the next record player, the next cassette recorder, the next VCR, etc.

Every single time a new technology is released to play copyrighted material, the copyright industry goes ballistic. They finally got the idea to make all technological innovation per se illegal.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“They finally got the idea to make all technological innovation per se illegal.”

Actually it is all innovation they dont control illegal. The line below proves the point.

“by individual authorization through the Managed Copy process”

It also shows that history is again repeating. The TV and movie studios are about to have the same rude awakening that the record labels had with DRM and copy protection.

Wake me later and tell me how that works out for them …

Mr. Oizo says:

Blueray Sucks bigtime

I’m a linux user and even with dvd (especially of sony) I have had great difficulty playing them on my machines. Sometimes I find a way around it, sometimes I don’t. I fI couldn’t play them I would go to the kiosk where I rented the movie and demand my money back. They would always give me the money back. So that is not the point. The main thing that I learned through the use of DVD’s is that I will never buy a blue ray player. Unless these companies start to understand that: *if I cannot watch 50% of their movies, then there is no point in buying either the bluray disc nor the bluray player*. The only resort I actually have at the moment is to wait for a cosy .avi release on pirate bay. And this has only to do with the ‘options’ I have, and not much with what I want to have. IT would be much easier for me to go to a videoshop, rent ‘a disc’, take it home, watch it and make myself a personal copy.

Gene Senior (profile) says:

blue ray, DRM and Hollywood

I have NEVER ripped a DVD or Blue Ray disc in my life. I don’t have a huge collection and figure that if they get lost or damaged that I won’t miss them that much (I don’t have a lot of interest in watching things repeatedly anyway).
Reading this article just gets me fuming and makes me want to go and rip all of my discs and put them on an external drive just because I can. I paid for them and I shouldn’t be told what format I should be able to store them in. Back in the good old days of LPs I would often spend hours making mixed tapes to take along with me in the car. I never heard anything about copyright when I was doing that.
Dammit, these jokers do piss me off!

Freedom says:

Killer BluRay Storage System???

I often wonder why folks like Kaleidescape don’t do the following:

Step 1 – Read the disc in question – bit for bit and store on a HD. Please note that you aren’t breaking any encryption and in the truest sense you are making a backup copy of the disc – literally bit by bit and with all the encryption fully intact and untouched. Really no different that taking a picture of the disc, but in this case taking a picture with a laser.

Step 2 – Modify a second internal BluRay Optical Drive as follows: Disconnect the optical head, tap into the read controller, figure out when it is looking for sector X, etc. and then feed the contents back to the optical drive as if it came directly from the optical sensor but is really being sourced from the copy on the HD.

This doesn’t break any encryption. Doesn’t require the initial disk except for the first backup copy.

Sure – it’s complicated and would be expensive but for those buying these types of systems – an extra $5 to $10k for a working virtual system is nothing.


P.S. I give of this idea freely! If you want to hire me to help develop it though … it would be a neat project to work on.

Freedom says:

Re: Re: Killer BluRay Storage System???

>> You can make an ISO (image file) from the disk.

The real question is that by making an ISO are you decrypting in any way the contents during this process? Does the BR Drive itself decrypt the disk at one level and the software/hardware decoder/players at another level???

Either way, once you the ISO or a bit-by-bit file of the disc, you have to find a way to feed it back into the system at the front edge to avoid any licensing or DMCA type issues.

Of course, for systems that you aren’t trying to sell, there are programs that allow you to easily rip the BR disks and convert to MKVs and similar for easy playback. However, if the goal is for a legal way to make a digital jukebox, then it would seem the safest way is to have a system that gets/puts info directly at the optical head level.


crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Killer BluRay Storage System???

In order for a device manufacturer to make something that can play encrypted DVDs, you must either break the encryption on them or get the DVD Forum to give you a license. In order to obtain a license. The licenses come with specific terms that if you include forbidden features in your product (or whatever) the license is void.

Freedom says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Killer BluRay Storage System???

So if I’m an end user, buy an off-the-shelf player at BestBuy – find a way to read the BR bit for bit by picking up the data from the optical sensor and then re-feed the data back to the optical sensor via a FGPA tied into a HD or similar, I’m in license trouble land?

Seems to me that I just found a way to back up my discs without decrypting them and a way to playback from my backups which I’m entitled to do if I own the original, right???


Freedom says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Killer BluRay Storage System???

>> In order for a device manufacturer to make something that can play encrypted DVDs

Just to clarify – my point is that you can buy the finished components – even at BestBuy if needed, re-sell them and as long as you feed ‘the bits’ at the optical head of the drive/system you should stay clear of all the encryption blues (pun intended!).


crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Killer BluRay Storage System???

This might work as an end user (don’t know),
but the manufacturers of the dvd players might be prevented from partnering up with a manufacturer who is building this type of system. I’m not sure how restrictive those agreements are, how well they hold up, etc.

(sorry for double post, I’m having issues today)

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