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Subject: [IP] more on Spielberg loses out at the push of a button

  • From: David Farber <>
  • To:
  • Date: Wed, 11 Jan 2006 16:40:13 -0500

Begin forwarded message:

From: Bob Frankston <>
Date: January 11, 2006 4:13:00 PM EST
Subject: RE: [IP] more on Spielberg loses out at the push of a button

On a related note. In looking at print/HD_DVD_Bluray_Has_Problems/1136673259## writing about the dispute over the next DVD format &#x2013; Blue-Ray vs HD DVD there&#x2019;s an interesting comment:

&#x201C;Additionally, Knox refuted claims that Blu-ray's use of Java for its menu system and interactive features will make development easier. He explained that Blu-ray is actually using an imported specification from Europe named JEM.&#x201D;

It&#x2019;s a reminder of how differently Tellywood views technology. Last year at CES I had trouble communicating one of the Tellywood people who couldn&#x2019;t understand the idea that a traditional SD (Standard Definition) DVD and an HD-DVD had anything in common. There is no reason you can&#x2019;t use a current 4.7 (or 8.5GB DL) DVD for HD content &#x2013; especially when it can play 16x. You can use better compression or less time. Of course if you used the DVD as a transport and took advantage of the 300GB drives becoming common then there are no technical barriers to doing much higher resolution than HDTV circa 1995.

The DRM aspect is only part of the problem &#x2013; the DVD is a product &#x2013; not just a delivery system. This is the reason why it&#x2019;s so hard to negotiate rights &#x2013; it&#x2019;s all about getting rights for a specific product. Change any aspect and the agreements are no longer valid. Thus the problems with showing classic TV content &#x2013; you have to renegotiate each &#x201C;right&#x201D;.

This week there was a discussion on NPR (which does make a lot of its content available) about re-releasing old records (aka Vinyl CDs) and the difficulty of even finding the copyright owner since, unlike Europe, the copyright is forever.

It&#x2019;s strange that music is given such stifling control &#x2013; I can sample phrases from a book all I want but use an extra note in music you&#x2019;re in deep trouble. Why?

Decoupling system elements is a major contributor to economic progress (among other benefits) but coupling systems together is favored by the incumbents at any point in time. The US constitution did attempt to find a balance but those who have lost the large goals have fixated on the means because it&#x2019;s too easy to focus on narrow solutions that preserve present (AKA, the past).

At very least we need to be able to articulate the systems considerations rather than argue about moral positions or how to solve immediate intermediate problems like &#x201C;how will the artists get paid&#x201D;.

-----Original Message-----
From: David Farber []
Sent: Wednesday, January 11, 2006 13:41
Subject: [IP] more on Spielberg loses out at the push of a button

Begin forwarded message:

From: Bob Frankston <>

Date: January 11, 2006 11:41:08 AM EST


Subject: RE: [IP] Spielberg loses out at the push of a button

This is closely related to the NYT page one story on diabetes in NYC.

People have a tendency to ignore evidence. Murphy's Law is always

with us -- what can go wrong will go wrong.

DRM systems must fail if any component of the system fails for any

reason - be it pressing the &quot;wrong&quot; button or attempting unauthorized

innovation. In this case the system was acting as designed -- better

to prevent copying that allow for recovery.

Resilient systems allow for success despite failures and allow for

overall system redesign.

It's not just DRM -- systems that are task-oriented tend to fail if

users act outside the scenarios or attempt unanticipated

combinations. Bluetooth being a prime example system that works as

planned but fails as unplanned.

Instead of recognizing that there is a system-design failure people

see only the proximate cause -- the wrong button or, in diabetes,

people who don't take care of themselves.

One worrisome version of this is to accuse those of not acting

according to the proper scenarios as being wrong and treating them as

disruptive and going against the proper order of things. After all,

why do you need protection from the rules (or the law) if you are

acting properly?

In a complex world understanding how systems work should be part of

basic literacy.

The NYT story shows how the health care system resists preventing

illness because the compensation system is heavily weighted towards

expensive treatment. This isn't new but the story provides a dramatic

example of how local behavior composites into a dysfunctional system.

FYI NYT/C = New York Times/City


I have to resist my tendency to look more deeply into those issues

lest I confuse things. I could point out that DRM prevents the

movement of the decoding into software and thus prevents improved

design of systems as a hole but then I'd have to blur the distinction

between DRM and other design constraints. What makes DRM special is

the degree to which it is a defining constraint rather than a choice.

I also don't want to speculate too much about design choices in

health care. I don't know all the reasons but I can understand how it

is easy to create fraudulent bills if you are providing counseling

and not treating anything. Thus it is prudent to view such costs with

suspicion. Expensive treatment is expensive and thus one can afford

the overhead to cover the administrative costs of assuring proper


In writing this I can't help but think about attitude towards child

abuse by priests -- it's blamed on the moral failure of priests

rather than on a system that makes such failures likely. Failures are

not always systemic -- we need to be able to understand systems so we

can recognize tradeoffs.

-----Original Message-----

From: David Farber []

Sent: Wednesday, January 11, 2006 10:25


Subject: [IP] Spielberg loses out at the push of a button

Begin forwarded message:

From: Brian Randell <>

Date: January 11, 2006 4:38:01 AM EST


Subject: Spielberg loses out at the push of a button


Here's a nice front page story from today's (UK) Guardian, about

region-protected preview DVDs, and how Steven Spielberg is likely to

lose his chance of getting a BAFTA (British Academy of Film and

Television Arts ) award for his latest film.



 > Spielberg loses out at the push of a button


 > Xan Brooks

 > Wednesday January 11, 2006

 > The Guardian


 > From Jaws and Close Encounters through to War of the Worlds, Steven

 > Spielberg movies have rarely had trouble connecting with audiences

 > in the UK.


 > But the man who put a capital B into the contemporary blockbuster,

 > whose films have grossed billions and whose name is usually the

 > stamp of glorious cinematic success, has been humbled. By a button.

 > Pushed, it seems, mistakenly.


 > This has had a profound effect on the director's latest opus, at

 > least as far as the members of Bafta are concerned. By tomorrow

 > they have to nominate the films they think worthy of accolade, and

 > Spielberg's Munich was expected to be among them, tipped for awards

 > both in Britain and at the Oscars.


 > But the preview DVD sent to the academy's members is unplayable on

 > machines used in the UK. As a result the majority of Bafta's 5,000

 > voters will not have seen the film, due to be released in Britain

 > on January 27, and can hardly be expected to recommend it for



 > Sara Keene at Premier PR, the company coordinating Munich's Bafta

 > campaign, blamed the mistake on human error at the laboratory where

 > the DVDs were encrypted. &quot;Someone pushed the wrong button,&quot; she

 > said. &quot;It was a case of rotten bad luck.&quot; She insisted that the

 > film's distributor, Universal, was not at fault.


 > The problem, it appears, was partly down to teething troubles with

 > the limited edition DVD players issued last year to Bafta members.

 > Developed by Cinea, a subsidiary of Dolby, the players permit their

 > owners to view encrypted DVD &quot;screeners&quot;, but prevent the creation

 > of pirate copies. Munich screeners were encoded for region one,

 > which allows them to be played in the US and Canada, rather than

 > region two, which incorporates most of Europe.


 > The faulty DVDs only reached Bafta members on Saturday, which meant

 > the film had already missed out on the first round of voting on

 > January 4. In a further twist to the tale, a previous batch mailed

 > out before Christmas were reportedly held up by customs officials

 > in the UK. &quot;It's been quite a cock-up,&quot; said one Bafta member, who

 > spoke on condition of anonymity.


 > &quot;We were promised that they were going to send screeners before

 > Christmas, but they never arrived. Now we finally have a copy but

 > there is no way we can watch it.

 >  . . .

Full story at:



School of Computing Science, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon



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