Blu-ray Users Get Backup Rights – Beginning next year, movie studios and other content holders will be required to give consumers the ability to make one copy of any Blu-ray disc they have purchased. The Advanced Access Content System License Authority (AACSLA) has drafted an agreement with the studios allowing for these managed copies, which the studios can either charge for or allow without a fee. Sometime in the first quarter of 2010 we will be seeing some Blu-ray players coming out with copy capabilities available on the menu. The copies will still be protected with either AACS DRM or Microsoft DRM. The ability is called “managed copy” and was planned for Blu-ray from the start, but like so many of the finer details of the format, is only happening now. Copies can be made to recordable Blu-ray or DVD discs, to a memory stick, SD card, a download to a Windows-running DRM-compatible portable player or hard drive, or a digital copy file on a disc. Downloads to iPods or iPhones were not approved, and it’s unlikely the feature could be added to players already on the market. The final agreement will be signed by all the studios on December 4.
Retrial of Minnesota Woman Accused of File-Sharing Turns Out Worse – The retrial of the nation’s only file-sharing suit by the RIAA to actually go to trial has ended even worse for her. The original federal jury hit the woman, Jammie Thomas-Rasset, with a $222,000 judgement; this re-hearing found that she willfully violated copyright of 24 songs and awarded the recording companies a total of $1.92 million, or $80,000 per song. The 32-year-old mother of four said “There’s no way they’re ever going to get that; I’m a mom of limited means, so I’m not going to worry about it now.” Thomas-Rasset denied she share any songs, but for the first time she raised the possibility that her children or ex-husband might have done it – though no evidence that any of them had shared the files was provided. The general counsel for the Recording Industry Association of American said only a few hundred of their lawsuits remain unresolved (most paid about $3500 out of court) and fewer than ten defendants were actively fighting them. The recording industry has blamed online piracy for a decline in music sales, though other factors include the rise of legal sales of online music – emphasizing purchase of certain tracks instead of the entire album – and increasing sales of video and computer games.
NAD AV Receiver Features Virtual Inputs – The new T 747 AV Receiver from NAD includes – as do many similar recent receivers – processing for the new lossless codecs from Dolby and DTS, XM radio and iPod sockets, and switching and upscaling of several HDMI inputs. But a new approach to customizing hookup for those with many varied component sources is the receiver’s system of “virtual inputs.” The user selects an input, names it, associates it with any video or audio source – analog or digital – and then continues until there is an input for every source in the system. Unused inputs can be tucked away, and additional customization can be added for different speaker setups, tone controls and surround modes.
New Samsung BD-P3600 Blu-ray Player – The player (about $400) has received good reviews at CNET and elsewhere for its excellent Blu-ray image quality. It is Profile 2.0, decodes Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD onboard, has a USB dongle and Ethernet port, 1GB onboard memory and speedy loading. It will have strong competition from the Sony PS3 at the same cost.