Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Pirates of Silicon Valley

If Big Media insist on behaving like scammers in the name of protecting their intellectual property, they will be the ones to miss out... big time.

For the time being traditional media outlets continue to produce most of the best content that is out there. This may not last but that, my friends, is a conversation for another day. American TV in particular is enjoying a particularly good run of form with series like The Wire, Deadwood, Mad Men, Battlestar Galactica, The West Wing  making it difficult for even the most committed telly addicts to keep on top of it all. This is great, of course, and long may it continue. 

In the spirit of wanting to see such good works continue and in the name of supporting the artists (as well as the studios) who make such fine works possible, I recently bought a copy of Game of Thrones on Blu-Ray. Purchased from a well known British retailer (apparently one in six pounds are spent in its stores), this handsome high-definition presentation, replete with Dolby mastered 6.1 sound and numerous extras set me back some £31.99 - and very happy I was too. 

As soon as I had finished watching the first two episodes, which I did back to back, I knew that I had bought a bargain, and I was glad I had waited to watch the genuine article. Sean Bean, Peter Dinklage et al's impeccable acting, George R.R Martin's intricate plotting and the glorious landscapes of Scotland, Ireland and northern England were a joy to behold. No digital download I have ever seen could have hoped to rival the clarity, depth or vibrancy of the image. 

I was one happy customer, as they say. Until... (don't tell me you knew there was a twist coming) one day, out of the blue, Power DVD requested that I update the software on my computer. Within seconds the download was complete and the Blu-Ray disks for my lovely new Game of Thrones box set refused to play. 

Like any computer-savvy consumer I immediately turned to the Internet for help. What was this nonsense? Forum after forum described the exact same problem. None offered solutions. 

Maybe I just need to upgrade the software? 

Well, yes and no. Apparently, at some point in the relatively recent past new DRM restrictions on Blu-Ray disks have caused PowerDVD to withdraw Blu-Ray disk support for older versions of the software. Disks that previously worked no longer do. My entire Blu-Ray collection is now unplayable on my computer unless I pay an additional ~£35 to the company that makes PowerDVD, which seemingly has some sort of exclusive license for the HD drivers that convert the digital information encoded on the disks into sounds and video.

I cannot help but notice that this is the exact same 'business model' adopted by malware scammers. 

Personally, it makes me much more disinclined to buy any more Blu-Ray disks. How about you?


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