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0.19 has an option to bypass audio alignment and has an option
to remux Blu-ray TrueHD tracks to regular Dolby Digital.
As previously reported, changes are coming to online music - and
this one just managed to beat 2008: Amazon's
MP3 store now carries music from Warner - previously known for
their unlimited DRM lovin'. That just leaves Sony..
Movie rentals are getting more and more likely for iTunes as Apple
appears to have made a deal with Fox.
Another one bites the dust: Wal-Mart's
online video download service has been canned after less than
a year of operations. Does it surprise anyone to learn the service
featured high prices and DRM but little else?
And with that said, let's turn our attention to 2008: Will Warner's
recent move to unprotected MP3s encourage Sony, the last remaining
major, to follow suit in 2008, thus once and for all ridding us
of the annoyance called DRM? Will we finally be able to resurrect
old MP3 players and put them to good use and kiss PlayFair, PlayForSure
and all the other crap good-bye? And will Hollywood learn anything
from the music industry and finally become serious in online movie
purchases by realizing that online content should both cost less
than the physical medium, and still be more convenient (so allow
people to burn the content to a DVD, as well as being able to play
them on any of their computers regardless of OS, and via their home
entertainment network, regardless of the manufacturer of said equipment)?
Will high definition content become more than a tiny blimp on the
radar or will Sony's unwillingness to settle for a format others
have developed keep customers on the sidelines (with $799 for a
dual format player, we're a long way off from a price most consumers
would feel comfortable with, and PC drives are a far cry from the
price of a pure DVD burner as well)? And fully understanding that
I will catch flack for saying this - here's my suggestion to everybody
considering high def media in 2008: Do NOT buy Blu-ray. Forget about
the 20GB smokescreen (if you think size is all that matters head
over to my forums and discuss with the experts that more space doesn't
necessarily translate into better quality (or read a codec comparison
of mine) and how quality depends on a lot more than raw bitrate
and how codecs max out at a certain bitrate) and focus on your rights:
especially in this early phase, being able to get content from other
countries can come in quite handy - and even more when studios decide
to align them into one of two camps. There are plenty of so-called
exclusive titles that are available in the other format if you just
know where to look - and unlike Blu-ray, HD DVD is guaranteed to
be region free (and unlike we had it back with DVDs, regionfree
Blu-ray standalone players are nowhere to be found). And besides
keeping region codes, Blu-ray enters a whole new era of copy protection:
Unless SlySoft gives us another reason to drink champagne tonight,
the rumored BD+ crack has yet to surface - so, at this point it
is uncertain whether you'll ever be able to back up those recent
Fox titles (and there's no stopping Sony, Disney and Warner adding
BD+ to their titles as well). Even SlySoft - the only ones who can
get the last 3 months worth of high definition content decrypted,
strongly encourage you to go for HD DVD instead - if anyone has
an idea about breaking copy protection it should be them.
While an older PowerDVD release and some standalone players can
play an AACS less BD+ titles, creating such a backup will set you
back more than buying the original disc, plus both Cyberlink (PowerDVD)
and Sony (Playstation3) seem to have already plugged the BD+ workaround
and it would be unreasonable not to expect that future firmware
upgrades wouldn't take care of that for other manufacturers - plus
there is no way to turn any BD+ titles into any other formats (the
Return of the Silver Surfer Blu-ray rip comes from the German Blu-ray
disc which has no BD+ - it may not even have AACS (at least my HD
DVD copy from the same distributor has no AACS)).
Buying into any format that could reliably prevent you from ever
making a backup copy goes against everything this site has ever
stood for - so if you care at all for what you can do with movies
you pay good money for, you should stay away from Blu-ray just as
any music buyer should stay away from DRM infected online music.
And just so that it is said again: Blu-ray champion Sony has single-handedly
killed RipIt4Me, is behind ArCCoS, has infected millions of PCs
with a rootkit and has been peddling proprietary formats over standards
for decades (MiniDisc, ATRAC, MemoryStick and UMD are just a few
examples leading up to Blu-ray).
Anyway, I hope this didn't turn your champagne sour and Happy New
I hope you all had a merry Christmas and mostly got gifts you liked
2.12 allows adding delay for all types of DTS audio and (E)AC3,
shows the number of video frames when processing EVO/VOB files,
writes the correct framerate when rewriting timestamps and shows
the video resolution, framerate and video type (interlaced/progressive).
HD Decrypter 188.8.131.52 supports even more DVD format corruption
schemes and fixes a few bugs.
has a new overview window including a helper function to find ads
in your video stream, shows the first and last frame of a cut in
the cutlist, always uses the cutting tool to make the actual cuts,
uses script files for audio and video effects, encoding and postprocessing
and it can write new bitrate and aspect ratio sequence headers in
the output file(s).
Just in time for Christmas, the IFPI presents a would-be gift to
the EU: a
list of Internet filtering options they'd like to be implemented.
And those of you who think ISPs throttling certain kind of traffic
(e.g. P2P or just users that have unusually high traffic) is a reasonable
thing to do, you should pay close attention to what the IFPI bases
their wishlist on: they cite existing throttling mechanisms already
in use as precedent that filter is not unreasonable. Just as the
saying goes.. if you give the devil one digit, he ends up taking
the whole hand - accepting any filtering will inevitably lead to
an expansion of such practice beyond what you initially agreed to,
but then it will be too late (the same argument applies to data
retention by the way.. the IFPI is already lobbying lawmakers to
get permission to access the vast data dragnet that is currently
being built up). You might also want to read the article at ars
away with the alarmist predictions that the Internet will soon collapse
if throttling isn't implemented (and let's not forget that
we already know the cost of remaining neutral using established
and well tested technology - adding a bunch of new (and thus
lest tested and more prone to cause problems) devices not only costs
a lot of money, too, you need resources for planning, implementation
and maintenance (plus spare devices if something breaks) - all of
which won't come for free either).
And if that weren't enough, have a look at what the IFPI proposes:
measure 2: filtering at protocol level. What about legal uses of
say Bittorrent? I'm not even referring to downloads of large files
(though that's an obvious use) - but there are businesses built
around the use of Bittorrent, for instance from our friends at the
MPAA. Or measure 3: filtering. The dynamic nature of the Internet
makes this a futile attempt. We've seen it firsthand with isonews
(where the domain was transferred to a US government entity) - DNS
level blocking might make things less convenient but it's in no
way shutting down anything. Likewise, blocking on an IP address
level is problematic because sites can easily be moved, and there
are millions of websites that run off a shared hosting where different
sites have the same IP address - thus if you block one, you block
them all. And as for number one: this just drove people to other
even less tightly controllable services. In the end, we'll end up
having fully obfuscated and encrypted protocols - imho the industry
should be careful not to push people too much towards such solutions
if they want to keep up the current practice of mass lawsuits.
Last but not least, in the last instance of a deal between the
record labels and an online music service that got too popular for
the industry, Imeem has settled with Universal music - under
terms that essentially bar the site from ever becoming a commercial
success. And that's the other side of the picture: if the industry
isn't busy suing their customers and paying off elected representatives
to sneak through more and more unbalanced copyright law, they go
after any business model that threatens the established one.
It appears there was some confusion about the news as of late -
all of a sudden, weeks' worth of news appeared in everybody's browser.
What actually happened was that the news never made it from me to
the distribution server. So don't blame your browser or ISP, it
was human error.
And the time between today and the last news posting can be explained
by a business trip and a seriously bad cold that kept me in bed
for an extended period of time.
1.5.0 has made it up to RC2 in the meantime, which shows the
picture coding type in the info display, has an option to enable/disable
automatic logfile creation, shows the maximum bitrate in the info
display and fixes a hanger that was reintroduced in RC1.
HD Decrypter 184.108.40.206 supports yet another structure "protection"
variety, should output more compliant content when structure cleanup
is necessary and the PathPlayer has been improved as well.
v110 contains some GUI improvements and fixes a bunch of bugs.
v1.5 has two new switches that allow rewriting timestamps.
v2.1 now supports simple (E)VOB joining using the + operator
on the commandline, replaces the -auto operator and fixes a crash
when using the Surcode DTS encoder.
1.96a fixes a few bugs in the last installer and contains a
Vista compatible CuttyEnc provider.
1.7.7 fixes a bunch of bugs.
Then some HD news: even though the Blu-ray camp vowed not to enter
the fight for the cheapest HD player, Blu-ray players have suddenly
dropped in price anyway: Both Samsung's
BD-P1400 and Sony's
BDP-S300 have dropped below the $300 mark.
After essentially leaving the add-on drive market to the Blu-ray
camp, Toshiba is finally gearing up to give the Xbox 360 add-on
a run for its money (being external, bulky and loud, I can't say
I like the unit a lot - I much rather added HD DVD playback to my
internal DVD burner) and should
start releasing standalone HD DVD drives for PCs next year.
It seems the Canadian
DMCA has been at least temporarily delayed - so use that time
to get in touch with your elected representatives and let them know
about all the damage DMCA style legislation has caused all across
1.3 can rewrite timestamps to 23.976fps (and the option is automatically
activated when dealing with EVO/M2TS source files), uses Haali's
media splitter for demuxing, supports WMV input and doesn't need
you to specify a destination filename anymore.
Since I got a NAS device a bit back and looked at various models,
here's one manufacturer you certainly shouldn't consider: Western
Digital prevents sharing of all popular content types over their
network drive if you use WD's own tools. You can bypass that
by creating a samba (standard Windows filesharing) share if you
can figure out how, but the tool shows a clear contempt on the part
of WD towards their customer's free choice.
Unlike their government, the Songwriters Association of Canada
has another plan to compensate artists for filesharing (if you recall,
the government has taken a prohibition hard-line): a
5$ flatfee per Internet connection that should be distributed to
the artists. They even have a petition on their website.
Across the border, prohibition is once again taking a step ahead
with the Prioritizing
Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act (PRO
IP). The idea is to bump up civil and criminal penalties, and seize
computers. I'm starting to feel reminded of the ever lasting War
on Drugs - despite more and more prohibition, more draconian laws
(including mandatory minimums), have things really gotten any better?
Taking the ball graciously delivered by the French government as
well as AT&T, the
MPAA is now taking up the subject of ISP side filtering. Besides
the obvious, I wonder if anybody is considering what this could
mean for many of today's laws (including the DMCA takedown provisions)?
If ISPs start filtering, then they no longer are simple content
providers, but they bear direct responsibility for whatever they
deliver on their network. Of course, big content would like that
and I'm sure there are plenty of companies that would like to get
a firmer grip of what happens on the Internet (squash rumors or
news that hurt your bottom line anyone?), but it goes against the
fundamental nature of a free Internet. If you want government control
if what content you can access, you could as well relocate to China
And in anticipation of the Blu-ray camp's upcoming death songs
for HD DVD (expect various dates of HD DVD's impending doom being
thrown around between now and CES 2008), analysts
still predict that neither format will go away any time soon.
1.0.0 alpha 13 has a real helpfile, fixes incorrect seeks, some
bugs and prevents AviSynth wrapper based encoder tools from freezing
when libavcodec reports warnings or errors.
6.8 supports custom quantization matrices and has an SMP optimized
A few days ago, I reported on the MPAA's anti piracy toolkit. It
was only short lived - in apparent violation of the GPL, the kit
had to be removed again. Once again, a major player in the battle
for more draconian copyright law, has been caught with the hand
in the cookie jar. I wonder how long it takes until copyright law
will contain an RIAA/MPAA exemption.
While the WIPO broadcast treaty is dead for now, big content has
set their eyes on an easier prey: instead of using WIPO to push
even more stringent laws into every country, they're
now going after Europe (most European countries completely embraced
the industry's position).
And in something that probably won't ever touch you (bit it's still
good to know.. who knows, maybe if copyright law continues to become
more draconian and Universal gets its wish of piracy being considered
more important than violent crime), it doesn't matter if your home
country has an extradition treaty with the US - they
can simply kidnap you and once in front of a US court, you have
no right to appeal the way you made it to that court (then again,
you could have ended up in Gitmo).
Last but not least, Arstechnica reports that Apple
has caved in on the one price fits all scheme for movie downloads
via iTunes. I wonder how prices that rival DVD prices are going
to sway anyone, but the industry will have to figure that one out
the hard way (do you recall the CEO that has no idea about business
development - this is exactly the same thing).
2.08 writes its output into a log.txt file, contains two new
undocumented switches and fixes a few bugs.
With the RIAA targeting more and more US universities (except
Harvard), one state seems to take a different stand on the issue:
Attorney General is actively trying to squash the RIAA's subpoenas
to reveal the identity of 17 students from the University of Oregon.
Despite all the denials earlier this year, the
Venturer HD DVD player actually made it to Wal-Mart. Of course,
$199 doesn't sound too attractive anymore now that we have tasted
the $99 HD DVD player, but it's another brand and having more choice
in players certainly ain't a bad thing.
In yet another small sign of times changing, MTV
has revealed plans to make their South Park series available online
for free. A previous experiment with free episodes actually
showed that giving content away would not only not harm ratings,
but actually get more people to watch the show.
And in a potentially much larger sign of things changing, word
has leaked on a planned promotion by Pepsi and Amazon. Starting
in February, up to 1 billion tracks will be given away, as DRM-free
MP3s, and from all the labels (even DRM lovers Warner and Sony).
At the same time, Wal-Mart has given labels an ultimatum to supply
the retail giant with DRM free content for their online music store.
So, between Pepsi and Wal-Mart, we could face, for the first time
ever since the big content decided not to resurrect Napster in a
viable way, a
DRM free music future. I just hope they don't forget about the
people not living in the US (Amazon are you listening?)
Last month's news can be found here.