Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Worst. Hiatus. Ever.

Well, I've decided that I'm going to take baby steps. I've decided that I want to focus on the Internet. (Wow, what a commitment.) I'm going to not mention anything that didn't happen on the Internet or anything that doesn't have to do with the Internet. (Really creative, huh?) Any mentions of real life will be practically unintentional. So that means I'm not going to talk about politics. (Unless it's Internet politics.) I'm going to show you just how much of a nerd I am. (I hope you're not worried.) By the way, you might've noticed that my most recent blog posts have been shorter and less informative. That's because I've had the nasty habit of writing blog posts in fifteen minutes and publishing a short time later, because I was basically forcing myself to write. I'm not going to do that anymore. I will still try to publish at least thrice a week, but I won't be pushing myself to the point where quality suffers.

So, guess what? Muslix64 has cracked both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray. Cue the obligatory laugh from Nelson. This sentence is here so that I can quote Wikipedia for the third time in three sentences.

Isn't that funny? AACS is this super-advanced content protection system - two legs up from DVD encryption, which was found to literally be comprised of a few bits, which is pretty weak - and some guy discovers a workaround in eight days. Imagine if it takes you a decade to write this really intricate that's bound to win a Hugo or two, and then some reader discovers this big plot hole in the first chapter of three hundred and you no longer have any credibility. This is only kinda sorta like that. You might be able to fix the hole in later publications (if there are any), but for the present you're screwed. So after bypassing HD-DVD encryption, as an encore Muslix64 went on to bypass Blu-Ray technology.

So you'd expect HD-DVD movie rips to spread across the BitTorrent trackers like wildfire, right? Well, no. For one thing, a high def movie file can be as large as 20 GB. Considering that most hard drives are 200 to 300 GB, no one will be downloading very many HD movie rips. Then there's the fact that most people have Internet connections that don't exceed 11 Mbps - Megabits per second, equivalent to ~1.4 Megabytes per second. Consider that one Gigabyte is 1024 Megabytes. If you were to download a 20 GB - 20,480 Megabytes - file without interruption at 11 Mbps - a speed that few consumers ever experience - it would take you at least five hours (under optimal conditions). And would the quality really be that much better than a 700MB DVD rip? Not enough.

While the AACS bypass won't matter much now, look to the future, let's say five years, in 2012. Imagine that Blu-Ray is, or HD-DVD is, or both are, the dominant high-def video disc formats. One in two Americans has a high def movie player in his or her home. Internet Service Providers - don't forget the Internet - are now offering cheap service packages that are commonly 20 Mbps or even 40 Mbps. (I really think that kind of service will come to America, when in Japan consumers can have packages as fast as 100 Mbps.) At 40 Mbps, or 5 MBps, it'll take you less than three hours (again, under optimal conditions) to download 20 GB. You know what will happen then? The movie industry will, once again, be very concerned about piracy.

In the end, the movie industry will not trounce movie pirates. The Motion Picture Association of America has failed miserably at fighting movie piracy. Content producers will again and again try to combat piracy, but to no avail. There is no perfect defense. Devoted pirates will only find the weak points harder to find, but eventually they will be found. That is a matter of fact. It has been proven through the failure of DVD encryption and AACS encryption. It should be noted that a fix to the current AACS problem is eventual - I should be surprised if it does not come. But that fix will, in the end, be bypassed as well.

Content producers are trying to fight an unwinnable battle against smarter foes. The only way to defeat piracy is to make it impractical. The content producers - the movie studios - will have to compete. The market will change, or the movie studios will lose out. As consumer Internet access becomes faster and home computers become more accessible and monitors show better picture, a market will emerge for watching high definition content. And when your choices for watching that content are using expensive video discs and hardware that requires complex encryption verification or a speedy download that requires only your time, the choice will be clear.

Of course, ask someone more knowledgeable than me. (I may be wrong.)

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