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80 years ago...

by Timmy Treu

... there was no DVD, no Blu-ray, no PPV, no whatever, not even Television!

Which means it is quite difficult to compare this worldwide crisis with 1929’s economic crash! At least for the entertainment business. So, what is actually happening? DVD rental is decreasing at progressive speed, DVD sales are slowing, Blu-ray’s growth is not mitigating anything, and digital delivery is not really picking up! And yet the product available is good.

Has the home entertainment business lost its appeal? Has the product become simply a commodity? Has piracy eroded the business?

Well, piracy seems to be one of the major culprits, especially looking at how governments are incapable to stop it. The French back-and-forth of HADOPI is only giving pirates a hand. The Swedish Pirat Partiet manages even to get into the European Parliament. In Japan, pirate downloads will become illegal as of January 2010 – however so far no sanctions have been set.

So, the question that comes naturally: are we as a society becoming ridiculous? Have we lost our value system?

What is the definition of copyright? Read Wikipedia: “Copyright gives the author of an original work exclusive right for a certain time period in relation to that work, including its publication, distribution and adaptation; after which time the work is said to enter the public domain.”

Why is it so difficult to understand the issue? Well, at least from a European point of view, there is some ground for confusion since there are so-called 'private-copy' levies, which however were put in place to reimburse copyright holders for the private recording of TV programmes...

But, surely authorising just about any form of recording or copying was not planned, except for a single back-up copy for private use. Unfortunately, the inability to control such behavior has led to loopholes.

The US situation is somewhat 'better' – reading todays’ news: (CNN 06/19) - A federal jury Thursday found a 32-year-old Minnesota woman guilty of illegally downloading music from the Internet and fined her $80,000 each – a total of $1.9 million – for 24 songs."

Slightly overacting, don’t you think? But, at least reacting! So, coming back to the title of this column, are we better off today? Definitely yes. However, we have certainly lost some fundamental principles of common sense.

Even the global financial crisis is a result of losing common sense. Now that the financial and political
world is re-writing the rules of the game, it should be the right time for institutions to seriously consider that copyright is not just a chewing-gum, but a clearly defined principle of a civilised society.

Column Comments

Prospects for 3D in the home

There has been a lot of hype about 3D TV. But the industry getting behind a broad realm of technologies is a far cry from a monetisable mass market. Fundamentally, 3D is complex, more so than HD as technology and ecosystem. Screen Digest' TOM MORROD examines the issue.

This complexity will be reflected in uptake of 3D. It is often said that 3D is easier for consumers to 'see' than HD, thus driving true demand. But it can be countered that a market is not just about demand. It is about supply, price and information - all in questionable quantities.

Supply is a big piece of the puzzle and crucially, like HD, 3D is an ecosystem. It is certainly about the TV receiver, polarised or active switching; the glasses (easily forgotten but not necessarily 'in the box'). But it also takes in the decoding device - set-top box, games console or BD player; the distribution medium (broadcast/unicast), games console or 3D BD; the content and the process of capture, editing and contribution, including broadcasting infrastructure when not printed to disc.

Only about 20 per cent of broadcaster equipment is HD, 30 per cent of TV screens and less than that of set-top boxes. We are still in a very early stage of actual upgrade across the HD ecosystem. And while the HD infrastructure across broadcasters and operators can be used to transmit lower resolution 3D to some existing HD PVRs, all those TV screens will need replacing.

Price is a murky issue spanning both consumer and professional equipment. Many of the early announced prices for 3D TV sets are considerable inflations on similar non-3D TVs. This is especially true for passive polarised, where more technology is built into the display. However, active switching, offering screens at similar prices to non-3D displays, have a hidden cost: the glasses may cost up to $150 a pair, a major consumer cost.... Read More...