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News in Brief - march 2007


CONTRARY to previous reports and industry rumor, the Blu-ray Disc Association does not have an anti-porn policy. Marty Gordon, Vice Chair of the Blu-Ray Disc Associations’ US Promotions Committee says: “There is not a prohibition against adult content. The BDA is an open organization that welcomes the participation of all companies interested in using and supporting the format, including those that represent the full spectrum of genres in the content industry. (...) We look forward to working any content providers interested in providing their audience with best possible high definition home entertainment experience.”

HD DVD encryption hacker muslix64, with help from another anti-DRM cracker, named Janvitos, claims to have also broken the Blu-ray's implementation of AACS, engadget.com reports. Although their protection does not yet account for BD+ copy-protection, they claim to have been able to implement the same key-grabbing known-plaintext attack as muslix64 used to crack HD DVD in order to successfully to crack Blu-ray without even using a disc or drive.

PRESSURED with competition by Korean and Taiwanese makers of optical disk drives for over five years, Sninano Kenshi, which is best known for its electronic equipment division and printing equipment division’s Plextor brand-name, has reportedly decided to exit the market of consumer CD and DVD optical disk drives (ODDs) to concentrate on other product lines.

NEC ELECTRONICS Europe has announces the opening of a new Digital AV Application Centre in Izmir, Turkey. The team of engineers will assist customers in the design of set-top box, digital televisions and DVD Recorders based on NEC Electronics' EMMArchitecture System-on-Chip LSIs. The establishment of the office is a response to the growing market share of the EMMA series of MPEG Decoders in major consumer electronics markets and the growth potential of the Turkish market, Turkish manufacturers alone make over 20 million TV, DVD and STB devices per year.

IN VIEW OF Toshiba's recent launch of an inexpensive HD DVD player with a retail price of US$599, Taiwan optical disc drive makers think an entry-level HD DVD player priced at up to US$500 (£253) may be available in the second half of 2007. It is due to decreased costs for key components such as pick-up heads and chipsets, and a better yield during product assembly.

WORLDWIDE US major studio feature film revenue will climb at a compound annual growth rate of 4.3%, from $35 billion to nearly $42 billion between 2006 and 2010, according to Adams Media Research. By that date, a greater percentage of studio revenue will come from the US – 52.4% compared with 49.9% in 2006 – as US consumers lead the charge into hi-def and Internet movie consumption.

WAL-MART-owned UK supermarket chain ASDA has offered the cheapest DVD player so far – the Durabrand 1005 model was sold for £9! Asda expected all 80,000 machines it ordered to be snapped up in two days. Asda boss Peter Pritchard said: "This is such a jaw-droppingly low price that customers might struggle to believe it, but we really are selling a DVD player for under a tenner." An industry expert said: "I'd be surprised if they're making a profit. It's to get more people into stores." The Grocer magazine said: "Non-food is the new supermarket battleground."

THE EUROPEAN Union has earmarked €37.2 million to help China combat piracy during negotiations on a trade agreement that should advance copyright protection. It is aimed at improving intellectual property rights (IPR) enforcement by giving technical assistance to the Chinese administrative and enforcement agencies, and boosting China’s protection of patents. EC officials said hope it will persuade China to tackle widespread copying of DVDs, CDs and software. The grant will be boosted by Chinese government aid to create a €62.7 million fund to accelerate co-operation in protecting IPR.

SONY Computer Entertainment Europe has announced that Playstation 3 will be launched in the PAL territories on 23 March 2007 at a price of £425. The model is equipped with 60GB HDD model, the only version available as SCEE “responds to retail and consumer demand”. One million PS3 units will be made available during the initial launch period to all SCEE territories. Blu-ray Disc playback will be set to Region B (Europe, Africa, Middle East, Australia and New Zealand).

EUROPEAN customs authorities have handled 26,000 cases of counterfeit in 2005, a 20% rise over the previous year. They have seized 75 million items, the biggest category being cigarettes (43%), textiles and fashion accessories (15%) and CDs & DVDs (13%). The EU Commission reckoned the situation was becoming more serious and was worried with the growth in the seizure of food and beverage products (5 millions) and medicines (500,000).

CINEA, a subsidiary of Dolby Laboratories, has encrypted 23 films for award consideration by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) in the 2006–2007 season, using its S-View anti-piracy protection. After making available the S-View service to all of the major film studios as well as various independent film companies and UK distributors, Cinea aided in the award consideration efforts for nearly two dozen films, distributing approximately 100,000 copies to BAFTA academy members around the globe.

DOWNLOADS of television programmes and films from websites are expected to grow to around $6.3bn in 2012, although some content companies have not learned from the music industry’s experiences with Internet piracy, says a report by business information group Informa.

LEADING Taiwanese producers of pre-recorded optical discs, including U-Tech Media and Infodisc Technology, are watching the ongoing competition between the HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc formats and hope to land orders for HD DVD or BD movie discs from Hollywood studios in the second half of this year. Universal Studios Home Entertainment has published more than 60 HD DVD movies since April 2006 and plans to add a minimum of 100 more this year. There were 238 BD movies and 219 HD DVD movies published as of mid-January 2007 based on statistics by Amazon.com. The HD DVD group estimates that the sales volume of HD DVD players/recorders in the North America market will grow from 600,000 units in 2006 to two million units this year.