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09/20/2005 Archived Entry: "No Blu-ray for me"

Not sure yet what to make of this: Gordon P. sends this disturbing item from Claire Wolfe's blog. It seems the makers of the new "Blu-Ray" system -- one of two contenders for high definition, high capacity video discs -- want to monitor your player through an Internet connection, and be able to remotely disable it.

The alarm was raised by this CNN story which said,

On top of that, consumers should expect punishment for tinkering with their Blu-ray players, as many have done with current DVD players, for instance to remove regional coding. The new, Internet-connected and secure players will report any "hack" and the device can be disabled remotely.

We don't know yet if Blu-ray players, like Windows Media Player, will "phone home" and report what movies you're watching...but the capability would be there. If an Internet connection is required. I've been digging for more info, and all I've found so far is this on-line discussion which says that an Internet connection isn't required to play prerecorded media...just to copy discs. More subtle (and requiring more research on my part) is the ability of Blu-ray's AACS copy-protection scheme -- also used by the competing HD DVD system -- to revoke encryption keys, simply by playing a new disc. One wonders if they will be able to sell movies that can only be played a certain number of times?

Of course, they will control the technology...not you. Remember their view: just because you bought it, doesn't make it your property.

No, thanks. I'll stay with DVDs. And it looks like it's time to start building that Linux-based Personal Video Recorder suggested by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Who knows how much longer we'll be able to buy the hardware?


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