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News in Brief

EVEN before its DVD release, this year’s highest-grossing Irish movie, The Guard, could be downloaded from the internet for free. Andrew Lowe, head of Element Pictures, which produced and distributed the film, says he was recently complimented on the film by two people who had unintentionally watched a pirated version. He says the problem is potentially “disastrous” for the industry here, which the Government funds directly through its support of the Irish Film Board, and indirectly through section 481 tax reliefs.

RESEARCHERS at the Secure Hardware Group of Germany's Ruhr University of Bochum (RUB) have cracked Intel’s encryption protocol protecting Blu-ray discs and other HD media using a $267 custom board. When you watch a Blu-ray on your TV or computer, Intel’s High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) protocol is there to encrypt and copy-protect the HD channel. Hackers cracked the HDCP master key in September 2010; at the time, Intel wrote it off as a minor threat, as a person would have to "make a computer chip of their own" to actually use the code, a spokesperson said at the time.

HMV, the 90-year-old video and music high-street retailer, has called suppliers to an urgent meeting on Monday, the same day as the troubled entertainment chain is due to tell the City it has racked up first half losses of nearly £40m and its busy Christmas trading period has failed to provide the hoped-for bounce in sales. The company has an estimated net debt of £134m. HMV had identified 40 stores for closure this year, but has so far reduced its shop numbers by just 29 to 256.

DESPITE the hype around Internet-connected entertainment devices people are still not renting movies to play on them. According to research from The NPD Group, only 5% of the 134 million consumers who own devices capable of playing rented, streamed movies (iVOD) have used them for those purposes. Even when it comes to devices whose sole purpose is streaming entertainment, only 14% have used them to rent movies. Netflix, the leader of streaming movies, was not included in the survey because NPD classifies it as a subscription streaming service, rather than iVOD.

PANASONIC, Samsung, SanDisk, Sony and Toshiba announced that they have reached an agreement in principle to collaborate on a new content protection technology for flash memory cards such as SD Cards and various storage devices. Under the "Next Generation Secure Memory Initiative,"*1 the five companies will start preparing for licensing and promotion of HD capable security for SD Cards and embedded memory for use in advanced consumer applications such as tablets and smartphones.

GLOBAL consumer spend on online video has exploded in 2011, according to the latest research – Global OTT Video Forecast: Q4 2011 – from Strategy Analytics. Global online video spend will soar to $3.5 billion in 2011.

A NATIONAL consumer survey conducted by the American Consumer Institute (ACI) has found that the vast majority of consumers support stronger intellectual property protections against trafficking of counterfeit goods. The survey of 800 consumers found 82% of consumers agreed that counterfeit goods, such as ‘knock-off’ products, pirated software and imitation pharmacy drugs hurt the economy, with only 12% disagreeing.

CHINA’S first 3D television channel will air on a trial basis on 1 January 2012 and go into full operation during the upcoming Lunar New Year Festival in late January, according to government authorities. According to Cai Fuchao, head of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, the channel will be launched through the joint efforts of six TV stations, including China Central Television.