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The Almighty Buck

Taiwan Joining Chinese Royalty-free Video Disk Effort 314

Posted by michael
from the routing-around-monopolies dept.
BeardStreet writes "In an attempt to stop the flow of royalties to the various DVD licensing bodies (e.g. DVD6C, MPEG-LA, etc.), 19 Taiwanese companies have come up with a royalty-free DVD format called EVD which is compatible with a similar effort going on in China, called AVD. Capacity is about 1 GB higher. Their goal is to avoid having to shell out US $15 to $20 per-player royalties. EVD/AVD players will still be able to play traditional DVD disks but will not have the official DVD logo on them, thus avoiding the licensing fees. It's a political issue as well, in that China needs to balance the flow of royalty money going out of their country, especially with DVD players falling rapidly in price."
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Taiwan Joining Chinese Royalty-free Video Disk Effort

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  • It's about time. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pstreck (558593) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @12:44PM (#3603066)
    Let's get some US and European support in on this one and take over the market! But seriously, this is a really good thing we need to support these open standards to avoid the Information Nazi's.
    • Re:It's about time. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by BitHive (578094)
      I don't see any mention in the article of this being an open standard. It's likely that this player will go the way of the Apex player here in the US. The article makes reference to their "AVD" player not sporting the DVD logo, and not being a DVD player in a 'technical' sense. . .well, both of these things are true for DeCSS and look what happened.
    • this is a really good thing we need to support these open standards to avoid the Information Nazi's.

      Well, not so much in those words, but I do like the principle of the thing. Chinese, particularly rural don't have a lot of cash to swing and eliminating Itellectual Property tax is the next logical step, as pretty much everything else has been shaved to mass produce electronics. (It's still a big deal to the PRC to keep up/improve the standard of living for their base of support (i.e. the majority of chinese who don't wear western suits and talk on cell phones). I was pretty stunned to see 5" B/W TV sets in the grocery store for $12.99 (yeah, that cheap!)

      I imagine the powers that be (Hollywood lobbyists, lawyers, etc.) will push something forbidding any of these open technologies from reaching US shores (because it doesn't kowtow to their wishes, of course.)

    • Re:It's about time. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Erasmus Darwin (183180) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @02:31PM (#3603995)
      "this is a really good thing we need to support these open standards to avoid the Information Nazi's."

      Open standard? Who said anything about an open standard? The article mentions that the companies involved are trying to secure patents for things related to their new standard. I suspect the "royalty-free" phrase that's being thrown about applies only to the 19 companies that're working on producing the standard. To draw a computer analogy, this isn't like the BSD software developers vs. Microsoft or the GPL software developers vs. Microsoft, but more like Oracle vs. Microsoft.

  • Well good for them (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jucius Maximus (229128) <zyrbmf5j4x@snkmail.cTIGERom minus cat> on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @12:45PM (#3603077) Homepage Journal
    When a group of people decide they don't like the legal state of things and decides to come up with their own standard, they are rising above petty legal fights and truly addressing the issues faced by individuals and businessed whose interests are firmly in the hands of patent owners that only care about themselves.

    Way to go! - This belongs in the same ranks at the (Ogg) Vorbis Project [vorbis.com].

    • by bricriu (184334) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @12:58PM (#3603191) Homepage
      Maybe these innovations belongs in the same ranks. Hopefully, the success level will be a considerable amount higher. ;-)
    • by stienman (51024) <adavis@@@ubasics...com> on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @01:27PM (#3603400) Homepage Journal
      I bet you only say this when it appears to be in your favor. Try this similar sentence on for size:
      When Microsoft decided they didn't like the legal state of things and decided to come up with their own standards, they were rising above petty legal fights and truly addressing the issues faced by individuals and businessed whose interests are firmly in the hands of patent owners that only care about themselves.
      You are purporting to believe in a value, yet I doubt you believe in the value, just this particular case.

      BTW, since these video disc players are not DVD licensed, do they have the right to use DVD keys to decrypt existing DVDs? These keys, I imagine, are licensed along with the patent and royalty agreements. This will work great in non-DMCA countries, the USA, however, will likely stop them at customs after some mild lobbying from various patent owners and trade groups. It's very likely that these are destined for the huge chinese market, but they are probably hoping to skirt around the law and get these into the US as well.

      -Adam
      • "I bet you only say this when it appears to be in your favor. Try this similar sentence on for size: When Microsoft decided they didn't like the legal state of things and decided to come up with their own standards, they were rising above petty legal fights and truly addressing the issues faced by individuals and businessed whose interests are firmly in the hands of patent owners that only care about themselves."

        The difference that the move from MSFT centralises power and control in the hands of a corporation, while the move in Asia hands rights and restriction-free capabilities out to a whide variety of groups.

        Centralisation and disemmination of power are very different things.

        • Really? And who is coming up with this standard? The people? I think not - it's 19 Taiwanese companies.

          So the powerbase is still in corporate hands. Note that is is not apparently an open-source effort - it is a CORPORATE effort.

          Say it with me - CORPORATE.

          Sarcasm aside, good for them. It probably won't make it over here, but it would be a good thing if it did. We could separate video DVD's from data DVD's and finally get Hollywood off the consumer's back. It would also be a good consumer-level format.
      • by Paul Komarek (794) <komarek.paul@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @01:47PM (#3603577) Homepage
        How do you license a key? I don't think one can patent the key itself. You could claim copyright or trademark over it, I suppose, but I doubt that would have much real effect anyway -- how would you tell the difference between a copy of a key and a reverse-engineered key?

        -Paul Komarek
      • Standards are only worth while if they are open.
        For one company to create standards will always
        be bad. For a bunch of companies to collude and
        create standards that come with strings attached
        or royalty payments due or any other barrier to
        entry, that too is bad. So bad in fact that it
        should be illegal.
  • Region free? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Triskaidekaphobia (580254) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @12:46PM (#3603079)
    If the Chinese and Taiwanese want to bypass the DVD tax then lets hope they don't mind annoying the studios as well and make their players region-free.

    Can the studios detect these players and make sure their disks won't play on them? They did that super-new region coding thing a while back didn't they?
    • I don't believe they can without making some serious changes to the DVD format(which could cause some major headaches like the ones sorrounding copy-protected cds).

      The problem is that the play prevention mechanisms lie with the dvd players and not the dvds themselves. The dvd is encrypted but there's nothing to stop it from being decrypted by, say a region 0 player or decss.
    • they better watch out, if they try to get around THAT, it might be considered a copyright-protection circumvention device:)

      wouldn't it be funny if that hardware was illegal in the US, but legal everywhere else? so much for land of the free...
    • Can the studios detect these players and make sure their disks won't play on them?

      Probably.

      But all you will need to make it work is a black marker.....
  • by Wesley Felter (138342) <wesley@felter.org> on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @12:46PM (#3603085) Homepage
    If there are patents on the DVD format and these EVD players can read DVDs, it's hard to imagine how they wouldn't infringe those patents.

    OTOH, if the royalties are for a trademark license, they may be able to escape by not using the DVD logo.
    • I thought that the DVD playback method wasn't covered by a patent. I thought that MPEG-2 decoding wasn't covered under any patents and that the MPAA wanted the CSS method to be a trade secret and thus never had it patented (because patents must be disclosed)...that was what the lawsuit in California over DeCSS was all about (the MPAA wanted to have a "trade secret" and then claim infringement when someone reverse-engineered and implemented it, even though that's perfectly legal.

      I could be wrong. I usually am.
  • It's a political issue as well, in that China needs to balance the flow of royalty money going out of their country...

    You mean *true* piracy (vs. the MPAA accusations against coders) does not curb the flow of royalties enough already? Wow, these Commies are pretty crafty!
  • Only in China (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CaptainSuperBoy (17170) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @12:47PM (#3603097) Homepage Journal
    China said it was developing a format called Advanced Versatile Disc (AVD) that would be used only in the Greater China region

    This format would only be used in China. Makes sense, since there's no way they could sell these players in the US or Europe because it would infringe patents. Even if it doesn't display the logo it still decodes CSS, MPEG, AC3, all of which are patented.

    They'll still get exported, from stores like Lik Sang.. but who knows, customs will probably seize them at the border.
  • by crow (16139) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @12:48PM (#3603102) Homepage Journal
    Despite what the article says, these players will either owe royalties, or they won't be able to play the standard DVD media.

    The royalties aren't for the use of the DVD trademark (well, the bulk of them, anyway). They're for the use of patents.

    Now if they're really clever, they might be able to implement alternative techniques that, while producing the same results, don't use the means that the patents cover. Considering the number of DVD patents involved, this seems unlikely. (Sure, you could avoid the Macrovision and region-coding patents easily enough--don't include those "features.")
    • Despite what the article says, these players will either owe royalties, or they won't be able to play the standard DVD media.

      Yea, they can owe all you and I wish for them to, but payments would not exactly fit into their "royalty avoidance" scheme.
    • The royalties aren't for the use of the DVD trademark (well, the bulk of them, anyway). They're for the use of patents.

      What patents? CSS? Not patented, a trade secret. MPEG? Playback isn't patented, encoding is. Dolby Digital Sound is patented, but they don't have to implement the DDS parts to play DVDs.
    • there not making DVD's only dvd "players".The only patent they would come close to is the actuall technology used to get the data from the disk.
      The big question is, will the studios take it to court as a circumvention device? I hpe so, because they would lose.
    • What would happen if their approach was to release empty hardware overseas with not DVD support whatsoever and only support for AVD? And even not support for MPEG/AC3/etc? Then they can put up a Firmware (unofficially ;-) on the net in China and people (uh... resellers) can flash the systems to enable the DVD capability?
  • This sounds bad (Score:3, Interesting)

    by forgoil (104808) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @12:48PM (#3603104) Homepage
    Pirated cheaper EVD/AVDs being sold around the world, making the movie industry see even more red than before.

    If I were the guys who own DVD (Phillips and friends), I would demand that the fee is paid in the store, when someone buys the player.

    This doesn't sound like a step towards a better movie format for everyone, this sounds like VHS/Betamax all over again.

    I could be wrong though;) We'll just have to see what happens.
    • This is nothing like VHS/Betamax. First, EVD players are supposed to play DVDs. Second, this is almost the opposite issue from DVD. Betamax was superior to VHS technically - While it remains to be seen if this will be true of EVD, it is at least superior from a licensing standpoint. Also Betamax was aggressively licensed, representing nothing more than Sony's attempt to grab a bigger piece of the pie. EVD is an attempt to stop other people from making big money off of licensing, so it really is the inverse issue.
  • This hill hurt (Score:4, Insightful)

    by smnolde (209197) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @12:49PM (#3603114) Homepage
    ... the DVDCCA. And I hope it does.

    If EVD is open and unlicensed then it will do one of two things, if not both: A) Expose the region coding for distribution control, or B) isolate the US (and possibly Canada) from getting any of these devices by legislating them illegal.

    While we USians may not like the isolation, those who have the gold make the rules. This kind of open format will only help to spread the distribution of films made in other parts of the world, eventually hurting the DVDCCA and MPAA.

    There's nothing like having inferior entertainment channels forced upon us by law and greed when we could all share and share alike the distribution method (like PAL and GSM).
  • My only concern would be that MPAA & Fiends would try to block this. I don't think the DMCA can touch this but would the CBTBA (something like that) if it ever gets passed do something to this? If they arn't able to make up a legal obstacle my guess is they will just put something readable only in the new format on their DVDs that will crash the new players (though could they still cal them DVDs then?). Anyone else have any ideas on what the MPAA might try to pull to kill this technology, I'm sure they're not just going to take it lying down.
  • by vkg (158234) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @12:54PM (#3603160) Homepage
    Bunch of different, theoretically compatible standards - international patent law called into play, with those Damned Communists [google.com] trying to avoid paying their patent fees....

    You know, if they keep this shit up, they might just distract the MPAA from the Internet long enough for me to finish building my archive :-)
  • I like the sounds of this, but I wonder about the legality of selling these players in the US. If the player is capable of playing DVDs, then the technology inside will necessarily involve either unlicensed or reverse-engineered decoding software. The former would be piracy/IP theft, and the latter (legitimate IMHO) would run afoul of the DMCA.
  • not replacement (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wmacgyver (555987) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @12:57PM (#3603186)
    I don't think this will replace DVD format, however I hope this become the replacement for VCD format. VCD has always been nice in that, a lot of DVD players support it, plus you can make VCD yourself. No region lock out. If in the future, most DVD players also support this much like they support VCD playback, this will allow consumers to be able to make their own media that plays back in standard DVD players
    • I don't think this will replace DVD format, however I hope this become the replacement for VCD format.

      SVCD is already a decent replacement for VCD. The quality is much better (2/3 D1 VBR MPEG-2 vs. CIF CBR MPEG-1), and you can make 'em yourself with any CD burner. I rip video from my TiVo and convert it to SVCD all the time (info here [dyndns.org]). Player support isn't widespread, but many of the less-expensive DVD players support it (it's the expensive players from bigger companies that are least likely to support SVCD...hell, there are still DVD players on the market that won't even play CDDA burned to CD-R or CD-RW).

  • Too many formats? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tidan (541596)
    Is it just me, or is the industry generating too many different media formats in too short a time? I know from a profit standpoint, corporations stand to benefit from releasing newer technologies forcing customers to replace their old technology with newer. And this is to be expected - to a certain degree. It seems, at least to me, that recently the rate at which new media standards are being produced is far higher than it was a few years ago. Not too far back, VHS reigned supreme, and it has been virtually the> standard format for decades. Now DVD technology is in the process of phasing out VHS, but it seems we are bombarded with new and improved formats (like this new extra 1-Gig capacity) that won't benefit the customers to a great extent. It doesn't seem that these new EVD's are going to replace DVD's because it is not a substantial breakthrough in technology. Big deal.. an extra 30 min. of "behind the scenes" on your typical DVD movie. Is it worth introducting new media formats to simply avoid licencing fees?
    • by cryptochrome (303529) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @01:23PM (#3603366) Journal
      DVD has always been light on capacity (and certain features could have been implemented better). In particular, one of the big advantages to DVD over VHS is being able to use multiple scriptable audio and text tracks, thus allowing you to subtitle and/or overdub for multiple languages. Not something we think of much here in the US, but in China/Taiwan, pretty much every release should have Mandarin, Cantonese, English, and if necessary whatever language it was originally recorded in. At least. The problem is even worse in Europe because with so many languages to cover, they're forced to skimp on audio and video quality, to say nothing of the bells and whistles we're accustomed to here. The "subtitle" tracks are not text but actually pictures of text to accomodate any font, but are limited to only four colors (two of which are are black and clear) and only to a certain sector of the screen. And there's no way to use post-press modifications(such as fan translations not available on the original).

      Beyond that, DVD quality is way below that of HDTV (not that there's much of that yet). So, we really could use more space - a LOT more (FMDs and FMCs sounded promising). And a much more flexible format (allowing simple outside scripting and track replacement/overlays as well as modern compression algorithms and file formats like MPEG-4) with smarter options (like a real UTF-8 text track coupled to an on-disk vector-type font library, and full-color compressed RGB-alpha sprite/video overlay tracks). But even a 10% or so increase in capacity could make a big difference in much of the world.

      • The "subtitle" tracks are not text but actually pictures of text to accomodate any font, but are limited to only four colors (two of which are are black and clear) and only to a certain sector of the screen.

        The rest of this post I believe is informative, but this snippet is incorrect.

        4 colors, yes. The author often wants clear but there's nothing magic about black and neither are required.

        DVD subtitles can appear on any part of the screen. Like you said, they are achieved through a bitmapped image. This image can be sized up to the full NTSC or PAL resolution.
        • True. I knew that all 4 colors weren't set, just didn't mention it because pretty much all subtitles should be using the clear, and without a black (or rather high-contrast) border they're usually impossible to read at some point during the show. In any case, it's very limiting, and tends to produce aliased text that clashes with the video.

          I didn't know they could appear anywhere on the screen. I've never seen them outside the bottom strip, myself, even when translating signs. I suppose that just means they don't usually bother.
      • If the MPAA can't stop people from buying/selling from different regions expect them to drop subtitle and multiple language support outside the US market very soon.

        By ensuring only one language per DVD you'll see fewer people from the US buying Japanese and HK DVDs. You'll also see people in France no longer hopping to the UK or ordering from US online stores. Ironic since many French versions of HK and Japanese DVDs are better quality (more features/languages and better print quality) than those in the US or HK.

        The MPAA members will be able to return to controlling releases among different countries and can then ensure better adherence to their price structures.

        The reason this won't happen in the US is the variety of languages spoken in the US and the fact that the US market is currently the one with the most DVD titles available.
  • by GuyMannDude (574364) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @01:01PM (#3603210) Journal

    Several industry sources confirmed that emerging EVD or AVD players will be capable of playing back both EVD/AVD disks and DVD disks.

    But other industry sources in Japan acknowledged that if players bear no official DVD logo, it would be difficult for the 6C or 3C groups to go after them.

    It's sad that some companies in Asia are going to get away with making their own DVD players for the sole purpose of cheating the DVD patent holders while some poor European kid who writes DeCSS so that he can play his legally purchased DVDs on Linux gets crucified to the fullest extent of the law.

    GMD

    • 19 companies combined can afford many lawyers. A teenager prolly can't. Doesn't excuse any actions, but that is the case.
    • by Telastyn (206146) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @01:09PM (#3603276)
      It's sad that some rich companies in Asia are going to get away with making their own DVD players for the sole purpose of cheating the DVD patent holders while some poor European kid who writes DeCSS so that he can play his legally purchased DVDs on Linux gets crucified to the fullest extent of the law.


      Emphasis mine.
      • It's sad that some companies in Asia are going to get away with making their own DVD players for the sole purpose of cheating the DVD patent holders while some European kid who writes DeCSS so that he can play his legally purchased DVDs on Linux gets crucified to the fullest extent of the law.

        Edit mine.

        Good grief, cut the crap. The reality is that these companies MAY get away with it, whereas I couldn't get a DVD player for Linux for love or money legally for a long long time.

        Really, though, this is capitalism at its best, IMHO. It can be done cheaper, and in a way consumers actually want - it WILL be done.
      • Further correction..

        Is it really that sad that some mildly rich companies in Asia are going to get away with making their own DVD players for the sole purpose of avoiding the filthy rich DVD patent holders?

        Heck no! This is a great thing to see! The more countries that fight our backwards software patents, the better. You do realize that's what we're talking about, right? Software. Not optical drive mechanics or other such technology. We're talking about MPEG-2, which is locked up with so many software (ie. mathematical) patents it's disgusting.

        These same bad patents could also cause problems in the future for open source software--or at least its use in the US.

        Kinda ironic when it's the communists fighting for a free market solution, eh? Crazy world we live in..
  • not so good? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tps12 (105590)
    Okay, now I am as much a supporter of "free as in freedom" as any other good slashbot. But while reading this story more carefully, and discussing it with some of the "regulars", I believe I have reconsidered.

    All of the innovation that we have seen, from the triumph of the Wright brothers, to the soaring skyscrapers that make this country beautiful, has been due to the drive of a few precious individuals. Their motivation? Money.

    Take away the royalties that protect them and urge them to develop new things, and we're back in the Dark Ages. Like it or not, intellectual property rights is the hot-button issue that sculpts the political landscape.

    Where would we be without it?
    • I'd say we've seen a little too much innovation in this particular area, to the point where a couple of thousand producers of essentially disposable content are trying to control the dissemination of information between billions in order to protect the money from a cartoon mouse. Not everyone's greed should be give safe harbour or encouraged.
    • "All of the innovation that we have seen, from the triumph of the Wright brothers, to the soaring skyscrapers that make this country beautiful, has been due to the drive of a few precious individuals. Their motivation? Money."
      false. Many of the great inventions were created from the joy of creation, rather then money.
      Money is made by people who hire creative thinkers, then patent there ideas.
      Without IP, I gues people could only make money with the intial concept, as opposed to wrining ot every last penny from there customers.

      Truth be told, I'm not against reasonable IP protection. I am against people using it as a means to stiffle innovation, control markets, and arrest children for building there own device to lay a legally purchased DVD.

      If it comes down to letting corprations have complete control, or no IP, I'll choose no IP.
    • The Wright brothers didn't do anything new; It was a glider design gleefuly snagged from somewhere else, and someone elses motor, and you'd be betting safely if you said their props weren't their own invention. The only bit of the plane that was actually covered by a patent was the control system. It was weird, and people did different things. Modern aviation, even though spawned by the Wrights, wouldn't infringe the patent, because it was a wacky way of handling it. Sure, the Wright brothers made a pile of money, but they hampered the advance of the airplane through insane business proceedures, such as the 'Buy before we even let you see it works' trick that caused the Europeans to do things differently and the US government to laugh at them.

      As for skyscrapers, they're ugly. Also, there is no IP involved in them, save simple copyright. You can't copy someone elses building word for word and beam for beam, but you better bet you can drive down to the local municipal office and see every inch of the building down to the spacing of rivets and copy every innovative idea.

      And the skyscrapers weren't about money; They were a dick-size war among a few wealthy individuals and corporations.
  • First, if EVD/AVD does take off, then we might see pressure on the 6C and 3C to reduce their fees, though knowing how corporate America does business these days then we are more likely to a whole bunch of law suits.

    If EVD/AVD are really to make a difference, than simply being a 'home grown' technology and licensing body for these companies, then we need to see the specification made public for no fee, without any license fee requirements. This would help reduce the cost of the media and mean that anyone anywhere would be capable of making a player, without needing prior permission. One other thing that needs to be done is ensure that at this stage EVD/AVD already covers a specification for rewritable discs, otherwise we are likely to run into the same mess as DVDs did.
  • From the article:
    "The biggest problem with [a new China format] is, can Chinese OEMs export this proprietary player?" said In-Stat's Abraham.

    The whole point of the new standard is to make an open standard that doesn't charge royalties, and he is calling it a proprietary standard?

    steveha
  • Even so... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by foo fighter (151863) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @01:03PM (#3603233) Homepage
    We'll never see these players in the US.

    The MPAA will see to it that customs holds these at the border, and the parties hoping to receive the shipment will be tossed in the slammer.

    Basically, these will be considered controlled substances like drugs and whoever's trying to get ahold of one will be treated as a narcotics dealer/user.
    • Maybe not. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bstadil (7110) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @01:17PM (#3603330) Homepage
      The MPAA will see to it that customs holds these at the border

      If they try to do this the logical counter move is to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization [wto.org] stating the case that the Regional Settings is a deliberate and unlawful inpediment to free trade. The risk of this being declared illegal combined with suits for Punitive damages subsequently filed in the US courts is high.
      MPAA will give in long before that as the down side grossly outweighs the alternative.


      NB: Write your representative in the country you are in and complain about Regional Settings. Its amazing it has survived so long.
      • Who would file that complaint to the WTO?

        You? I don't know you, but if you aren't a US Senator or CEO of a Fortune 500 company your complaint will be ignored and/or tossed in the trash before it's read.

        The US? Why wouldn't they back up one of their major industries?

        China and Taiwan? They are on thin ground in the WTO as it is. They know the risk of the US throwing its weight around is more dangerous than some lost profits to licensing fees.

        So I just don't see a complaint being filed let alone having any effect on the issue.
    • Basically, these will be considered controlled substances like drugs and whoever's trying to get ahold of one will be treated as a narcotics dealer/user.

      I disagree.

      Whoever's trying to get ahold of these will be considered terrorists. Get with the times.
  • I wonder if this is the type of thing that could be impacted by the recent overturning [yahoo.com] of a ruling by the special federal appeals court. Apparently the U.S. Supreme Court felt that the ruling went too far by allowing competitors to make minor changes and then applying for new patents. At a minimum it could open the door for existing patent holders to delay things by filing lawsuits against the new technology on the grounds that it is similar and not sufficiently different.
  • by bigpat (158134)
    "Both of those groups are prepared to stop imports of unlicensed DVD players and to bring lawsuits against companies that ship them."

    Anything that plays the DVD format will still be considered as infringing on the DVD patents.

    Once again, we here in the freedom loving west will be protected from having to decide if we want cheaper and better technology. After all it is much better when a group of companies work together and decide to impose a standard on the world and then charge us extra for the privilege.

    Why don't people go after these companies for Anti-trust violations? When standards are used by an exclusive group of companies to impose market control at the expense of consumers, it is illegal under US law. Companies are supposed to compete with eachother, otherwise it isn't a free market.

    • but you also have to consider the patents/royalty system. Without such patent and royalties, companies would no longer have any incentive to research and develop. Why should they plop down $xx million if they can just "steal" or "use" the technology that another company researches for free.
      • because they'll gain initial market share and "beach head" after that they will have to compete, which is the only way the consumer gets options.

        So they will still make money, as much money? hard to say.
        • Then the only people able to make money off an invention are large corporations that can quickly capitalize on the invention. The guy with a great idea but no means to produce it is screwed.
  • by tps12 (105590) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @01:07PM (#3603259) Homepage Journal
    The following movies will not be released for EVD or AVD:

    Elizabeth

    The Last Emperor

    The Madness of King George

    Get it? Royalty-free? Get it?
  • What about CSS? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sterno (16320) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @01:11PM (#3603291) Homepage
    Okay well that's all well and good, but are they going to be able to support CSS decryption? Seems to me that their ability to play DVD's is almost useless if they can't decrypt CSS, seeing as most discs require it. So they still end up having to pay royalties and having to enforce region encoding.

    • CSS used to be a trade secret. It is not and never was patented, and if they try to get a patent on it now there is plenty of "prior art," include deCSS itself. :-)

      Then some rather intelligent youths in Europe figured out how to break the profoundly weak algorithm used to encrypt DVDs and restrict their playback (but not bit-for-bit copies, as most DVD-Rs were capable of doing back then, before the deCSS case and their wholesale redesign).

      CSS isn't a secret anymore, indeed there are T-Shirts, songs, and 7 line perl scripts that can algorithmicly crack the code without any keys whatsoever.

      The Taiwainese or Chinese can use any of this widely and publicly available information to make DVD playback devices capable of decrypting and playing DVDs and, I suspect, under the rules of the WTO, there is absolutely nothing the Copyright and Media Cartels can do about it.
      • The DMCA doesn't care if DeCSS is a secret or not. They can be sued by offering a device that circumvents access control measures on the DVD's. In fact, since they'd be making money from the sale, they could actually face prison terms for releasing such a system.
        • The DMCA doesn't care if DeCSS is a secret or not. They can be sued by offering a device that circumvents access control measures on the DVD's.

          Not if their products are, as advertised, solely for sale in the greater China area. Any grey market products offered for sale in the United States aren't officially sanctioned by the manufacturerers, and therefor the only people at risk are the grey market importers. The Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturers can make and sell these devices all over the rest of the world with impunity.
      • How is it so weak? Seems to me no one broke it until a company accidentally forgot to hide the key and someone used it.
        • Weaknesses had been discovered before that, IIRC; but the cracking used to take too long to be really practical. The revealed key just was a little shortcut which let some people watch DVDs even though the cracking wasn't complete.

          Now that key is repealed, and fortunately for people wanting to watch DVDs on Linux, the algorithm is also cracked. Every time you put a DVD in your open-source player, the player cracks the key. That's why there's often a pause before the disc starts playing.

          -Billy
  • There was a scifi book and part of the backstory was that the Chinese had crushed the US economy by basically pirating EVERYTHING and making it available on some global satellite net.

    Maybe this is the beginning?
    • It's Distraction by Bruce Sterling:

      It's the year 2044, and America has gone to hell. A disenfranchised U.S. Air Force base has turned to highway robbery in order to pay the bills. Vast chunks of the population live nomadic lives fueled by cheap transportation and even cheaper computer power. Warfare has shifted from the battlefield to the global networks, and China holds the information edge over all comers. Global warming is raising sea level, which in turn is drowning coastal cities. And the U.S. government has become nearly meaningless. This is the world that Oscar Valparaiso would have been born into, if he'd actually been born instead of being grown in vitro by black market baby dealers. Oscar's bizarre genetic history (even he's not sure how much of him is actually human) hasn't prevented him from running one of the most successful senatorial races in history, getting his man elected by a whopping majority. But Oscar has put himself out of a job, since he'd only be a liability to his boss in Washington due to his problematic background. Instead, Oscar finds himself shuffled off to the Collaboratory, a Big Science pork barrel project that's run half by corruption and half by scientific breakthroughs. At first it seems to be a lose-lose proposition for Oscar, but soon he has his "krewe" whipped into shape and ready to take control of events. Now if only he can straighten out his love life and solve a worldwide crisis that no one else knows exists
  • I love it (Score:3, Funny)

    by unicron (20286) <unicron@@@thcnet...net> on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @01:13PM (#3603309) Homepage
    And the fact that all DVD players sold in China come bundled with Episode 2 just goes to show you the level of dedication the Chinese market brings to the consumer. They go that extra mile you just don't see in larger American stores like BestBuy.
  • we already have dvd-r, dvd-ram, dvd-rw, dvd+rw... why not add a lower cost higher storage capacity alternative?
  • excuse me (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Jacer (574383)
    i'm against intelectuall property, but legally can they do this? if it plays dvd's, it supports the format, how can they get around not paying the royalties? sounds like the communist state is just flexing their muscles, not that there's anything wrong with communism, just the leaders!
  • I wouldn't really call this 'joining', Taiwan is comming up with their own incompatable (I would assume) standard from china.

    Which is not very supprizing, but pretty silly given the fact that they speak the same language and the PRCs format is royalty free (or is it just royalty free for companies inside china?)
  • This is the question! If China and others decide that they want to do this, they may not be able to import these units into the US because of the CSS. If they have CSS installed, than they must pay roylty fees since this is part of the legitimate standard. So.....The question still stands - can they import them legally into the US? If the DCMA stands, the US gov't may consider this an infringement of "reverse engineering" since they aren't paying any licensing fees!

    Quite possibly they are trying to create a seperate standard for Europe or just the far east?
  • It occurred to me a while back that if things like copyright locked hard drives come to pass, then mainland China might become a source of open, alternate components. The capitolism-on-PCP that seems to operate there would jump at the chance of making large amounts of money from the (probably large) demand for such devices.

    Though of course it all depends on how the Chinese government would view it. However I suspect that if a company has the right Communist party connections, it can manufacture for export whatever the hell it likes, especially as the current piracy situation there suggests the Chinese government coulndn't give a flying f*** about the RIAA or MPAA. They're more interested in stamping on political dissent and Falung Gung.

    At the very least, the situation might resemble the current one with DVD player region coding. The makers would pay lip service to hardware copyright enforcement, but quietly make it known that it can be disabled with a jumper in order to boost sales of their hard drives which would otherwise have little to recommend them over ones made by the big, mainstream manufactures.

  • Hmm, now we'll have three non-DVD high-density optical media formats:

    DVD+RW (and DVD+R)
    AVD
    EVD

    Maybe I should come up with one as it seems to be all the rage.

    Actually, the funny part of this are some of the same people who support DVD+RW (a non-DVD format) are now saying that the Asians should not be allowed to come up with their own competing technology as it will confuse the market!

    -David
  • by crhylove (205956)
    when can i get a royalty free burner? when can i get a component that'll play divx? when can i get blue ray capacity on an optical disk? when are white LED's gonna be put in LCD projectors lowering the price to under $100? when can i then replace every tv and crt in my house?

    when are corporations going to do ANYTHING good for humanity at their own expense?

    when is our government going to be run for by and of the people instead of said corporations?

    my guess the answer to all of these is NEVER. because somebody somewhere would "loose" money that they had never MADE yet.

    rhy

  • I will buy any damn player that will play a DVD and allow me to fast forward through the damn Disney previews that they force you to watch.

    They need a "Just play the f***ing movie" button on their remote controls.
  • As a person of Chinese descent, I observe that many Chinese, if not other Asians living in Asia, will only pay what is neccesary to obtain the material object. Reason why is because they simply don't have enough cash to pay for royalties that entertainment and technology companies want them to pay. The a lawyer in China only makes about $141. The GDP per capita in China is about $3,600. Ever since the Communist takeover in the 20th century, many Chinese have become thirfty, budget-minded consumers.

    Believe me, many Chinese are hardcore bargain-hunters (Ive observed this in Hong Kong) and usually do not purchase something without getting the lowest possible price.

    As a result, Chinese usually spend their money on neccessities such as food, health care products, etc...they also would like other commodities sold in the Western world, but cannot afford them. One of these much-wanted commodities is entertainment such as DVDs, software etc...Anyway, they usually buy pirated products because the legal ones typically cost 5 times more.

    The Chinese and Taiwanese governments really don't care about royalty payments demanded from companies in foreign countries...simply because they want to save money. As a result, Taiwan and China rank among the largest pirated software and home video markets in the world, just below Brazil.

    Software and entertainment companies should really take a look at how much the average person makes in the country they release theire products in...
    • "Ever since the communist takeover"? Excuse me, but China was a poor country before Mao took control, and continued to be a poor country afterwards, but at the moment has one of the fastest growth rates in the world. You can blame the regime in China for a lot, including millions dead, but pretending that poverty in China started with the "communist takeover" shows a blatant disregard for history.

      If you want to blame them for making life worse for people in many ways, and making some people poorer, sure. But considering large parts of Chinas population had been living at the brink of starvation under colonial rule until the emperor was overthrown, and things hardly got better during the civil war, things were hardly in great shape before they took over either.

      Also, trying to present this as something thats unique to China, as opposed to common to poor people everywhere is pretty interesting. Of course poor people will try to avoid spending money on anything but neccessities - everyone generally see avoiding starvation as more critical in their life than the latest Hollywood blockbuster.

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