Format-shifting: HD DVD to Blu-ray

high def formats By now you’ve probably heard that Toshiba has thrown in the towel and will stop making HD DVDs. That means Sony has finally won a format war! Good for them, I guess. Not so good for the consumers who invested in HD DVD, however. What are you supposed to do with the player and all those discs that you bought?

One option would be to convert your HD DVDs to Blu-ray. Wired has created a “how to” specifically for that purpose:

By converting your movies to a more enduring format, you can ensure your movie collection survives the death of the machine that plays them.

The process is simple in principle but excruciating in practice, thanks to the complexity of the technology, the myriad of applications needed and the predations of an industry that doesn’t want you format-shifting at all.

The three basic steps are ripping, transcoding/authoring, and burning. Converting your discs will take time, and it will definitely cost money. Lots of money.

I’m not sure it’s worth it. You haven’t bought that many HD DVDs yet have you? And if you have, you’re probably better off trying to track down a dual-format player. It’ll save you a bunch of stress, that’s for sure.

Your HD DVDs may be salvaged, but your player is almost certainly a glorified paper weight now.

Read: Convert Your HD DVDs to Blu-ray

DMCA and DRM: Dumb and Dumber

Post ImageOn Wednesday I wrote that the writing is on the wall for DRM. Today over at ars technica, Ken Fisher agrees:

What makes it even more deplorable this time is that it’s now 2007, and the writing is on the wall: DRM is a failed idea, and a waste of time and money.

I don’t want to pick solely on DRM though. The Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) is just as much to blame for the whole HD-DVD key fiasco. Ken explains:

AACS LA isn’t claiming copyright protections for the key. Rather, the key could constitute a circumvention device, which makes it illegal per the DMCA. Until a court has ruled, it’s all speculation of course.

I think something has gone terribly wrong when the law makes the simple act of writing a number illegal. Bill Clinton did a lot of good things while in office, but signing the DMCA into law was not one of them (in my opinion).

The DMCA is not a real solution to the problems faced by copyright holders. DRM is essentially security through obscurity. In other words, it’s not at all secure, and once the secret has been revealed there’s no going back. Organizations like the MPAA and RIAA know this, so they look to the DMCA as a sort of fallback mechanism: “if the secret gets out, or is bypassed, we’ll just sue.”

Instead of using the DMCA to punish the potential circumvention of DRM, rights holders should be figuring out how to remove the need for DRM altogether (thus removing the desire to circumvent it). You know, like this.

Fix the business model, and the problems go away. Yes, I really do think it’s that simple.

Read: ars technica

Will Digg's implosion change the world?

Post ImageWow, just wow. Digg has imploded. This might seem comical at the moment, but I think May 1st, 2007 may go down in Internet history as a very critical day. Ryan Block has the best recap of what has transpired that I’ve seen:

Brace yourself: there is a revolt underway at Digg. Users are virulently spreading the HD DVD AACS decryption key against Digg’s wishes, with each removed post spawning dozens more in its place. But how did such a loyal userbase as Digg’s so quickly divert its all-consuming energy to defying — even damaging — the company to which it was so loyal?

The rest of his post explains the timeline. Basically it’s like this:

  • Someone posted the HD-DVD decryption key on Digg.
  • The story was removed, and that user was banned.
  • The story was reposted, and removed again.
  • Digg users then flooded the site with stories about the key.

As Ryan says, the web has just witnessed its first “massive, simultaneous revolt.”

When I started writing this post a few minutes ago, digg.com was down. Looks like it is back up now, but for how long? Digg’s founder Kevin Rose had this to say earlier tonight:

We hear you, and effective immediately we won’t delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be.

If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying.

If there was ever a reason to start realizing the power of the web, this is it. Who cares what happens to Digg…what does this event mean for the web and society in general? I’m not sure how yet, but I think Digg’s implosion might just have changed the world.

Read: Ryan Block