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Why you should boycott Blu-ray and HD-DVD

It is with great regret that I inform you of the ways in which the movie industry wishes to ruin your enjoyment of high definition movies at home. If you've ever watched HDTV, you know how amazing it is. At 5 times the resolution of normal television, it looks fantastic. And the quality of the movies on a Blu-ray or HD-DVD disc is even better, because of less compression. I want it, and you want it. Right?

Well, there's just one problem. The movie industry assumes you are a criminal, and has added technologies to Blu-ray and HD-DVD that vastly restrict your potential enjoyment of their HD movies. I don't want it, and you don't either. Here's why.

(Note: There are a lot of acronyms on this page, so first, some quick definitions.)

DRM - Digital Restrictions Management - technology to restrict what you can do with media you purchase
AACS - Advanced Access Content System - the DRM infection used for both Blu-ray and HD-DVD
BD+ - an addition to AACS for Blu-ray discs, that provides additional restrictions to what you can do
MMC - Mandatory Managed Copy - a theoretical way for you to make a legal copy of a movie
HDCP - High-bandwith Digital Content Protection - Encryption of data over digital connections
HDMI - High Definition Multimedia Interface - A digital connection found on most new HDTV's, all HDCP compliant
DVI - Digital Visual Interface - Precursor to HDMI, found on many older HDTV's. However, many DVI connections are not HDCP compliant, making them worthless for Blu-ray and HD-DVD.
ICT - Image Constaint Token - Downsamples HD output to standard resolution when hooked up over analog (component) cables.
MPAA - Motion Picture Ass. of America - trade organization representing the major movie companies
RIAA - Recording Industry Ass. of America - trade organization representing the major music companies

Reasons to be outraged

  • How old is your HDTV? If you bought it prior to 2005, and there are over 3 million of you who did, the MPAA thinks you shouldn't be able to watch HD movies in high definition. They are insisting that your TV supports digital encryption via an HDMI port or an HDCP-compliant DVI port, which these earlier TV's lack. If you have to stoop so low as to hook up your shiny new player via, God forbid, analog (component), the industry thinks you're not worthy. There's a fun little surprise they built in to Blu-ray and HD-DVD for people just like you, and it's called the Image Constaint Token. If it's enabled on a movie, and your connection does not support HDCP, then the movie is downsampled to 1/4 its native resolution, which is essentially the same as a standard DVD. While no movies have yet been released with the ICT enabled, know this: It will happen. It's just a matter of time.

  • Thinking about buying some laptop memory for a new HD-DVD or Blu-ray drive for your computer at Bestbuy?? If you want to use it to watch movies, think again. You'll need to buy a lot more than just the drive. Remember, analog = BAD, digital encryption = GOOD. You'll need to open up that wallet of yours for a brand new HDCP-compliant video card, AND, an HDCP-compliant monitor. Notice the word compliant. That is very important. There are some products that just claim to be HDCP "compatible", but they will NOT work for viewing high definition movies.

  • AACS means that Blu-ray and HD-DVD will never be compatible with free software, affecting nearly everyone that wants to view these movies on their computer but isn't running Windows or Mac OS X. While this is a minority of computer users, they should not be ignored like all of the music out there some might say history is doomed to repeat itself.

  • Excited about Mandatory Managed Copy? Don't be. While it theoretically allows things such as making legal backups and streaming content from one part of your house to another, the studios have the option of charging you money to do that. Current HD players don't even support MMC. Your player also has to be connected to the internet. That's not inherently bad, but is certainly open for abuse. What if you don't have an available internet connection close to your home theater? What if you don't have broadband? The MPAA humbly requests that you cry them a river. It's hard to believe they even considered something like MMC, considering this. Choice quote: "Even if CDs do become damaged, replacements are readily available at affordable prices". Translation: please purchase another copy of content you have already paid for, thank you. There is a very interesting interview with an HD-DVD rep here about MMC.

  • Ladies and gentlemen, I have proof that the MPAA and RIAA want to eat your children.
    To them, DRM is more important than human life. Wow.

  • "Hacking" your player, for example to remove the region coding, or playing a bootlegged disc, may lead your player to self destruct. (Applies to Blu-ray only).

  • There are a few other restrictions the MPAA originally requested, but since they're such a nice and friendly group of people, they went easy on us. They had planned to require that your player be connected to the internet at all time for it to function, so they could monitor its usage and make sure you weren't up to no good. Also, they considered having each disc being playable by only one player, meaning that if you played a new movie in your player, your friend couldn't watch the same disc in his player.

Other reasons you don't need HD-DVD or Blu-ray

  • The jump from VHS to DVD was dramatic and obvious - Qyality movie and game reviews, digital surround sound, non-degrading storage format, multiple audio tracks, etc. The jump from DVD to the next generation does not provide any benefits other than higher resolution, which to be fair is a great reason to want that upgrade, but there is nothing else. Cool menus and new interactive layer? People just want to watch the stinking movie. Better sound? Bah. 5.1 channel Dolby or DTS is pretty much the best it's going to get. Do you really want this in front of you?

  • Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD will be a format war, leaving both consumers and retailers very frustrated. Do you want to gamble with investing thousands of dollars in a technology that may not be around in a few years? Some studios will only release their movies on one or the other format (Sony Pictures obviously will only do Blu-ray), which means if you want access to all possible movies, you will either have to buy both players or get a dual-format player.

  • New technology is expensive. HD-DVD players are $500+, and Blu-ray is $1,000+. Most of the movies retail for over $30. For computer storage, blank media will also cost around $30 minimum. Surely these costs will drop over time, but at the very least, you should consider waiting and maybe go buy a treadmill before joining the herd. This is what I am going to do as sitting in front of the computer. I get acne and need some acne treatment and also get fat. Maybe I need to look into some reviews on treadmills to shed this ugly weight. I need to excercise just a bit...maybe I need to find something where I can lose weight fast :) That might do the trick...or it might not ...man I love that commercial!  :)

  • The biggest lie of all is that we even need these new technologies to have HD video on a disc. DVD video has been around for almost 10 years now, and since then vastly superior video compression technologies have been introduced, namely MPEG-4 and all its variants (h.264, DivX, XviD, etc). These compression formats are absolutely amazing in regards to size vs quality. A hi-def movie in any of these formats could easily fit onto a dual layer DVD, which holds about 9 GB. The only problem is that you can't really 'update' your existing player. In the consumers' best interest, what they would do is release new DVD players that not only supported these newer formats, but also had the ability to be upgraded for future technologies. We wouldn't need these expensive blue lasers to fit more on a disc. Unfortunately, this solution doesn't line the pockets of shareholders and executives, so it is unlikely to happen.

  • Blu ray player

  • The public is not ready for a new format already. A lot of people have spent a lot of money building their DVD collections, a format that just became mainstream ~5 years ago. Do you really want to go out and replace all of those movies? These new players will be backwards compatible with your old movies for sure, but if you just blew a grand on a shiny new player, you're going to want to watch your favorite movies in all their HD glory, right? Haven't you ever heard someone say, "Well, looks like now I have to buy another copy of the White Album" ?

If you have suggestions to add to this page, or additional links with more information, or anything else, please comment below. Also check out where you can get news and views on the topic.

Be sure to check out the news as well, updated as often as there is news about Blu-ray, HD-DVD, or AACS.

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Last updated November 16, 2006

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