Blu-Ray DRM Rendering Some Discs Unplayable

Remember when DVD-type players didn’t require “firmware updates?” Ahh, those halcyon days of um, last year…

Welcome to blu-ray, where you need to make sure your player has the latest firmware update or your legally purchased disc simply won’t play. How fun.

From Ars Technica:

…two new Blu-ray titles that have just been released–Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer and The Day After Tomorrow. Both of these titles have been reported to exhibit various degrees of failure on some Blu-ray players. Some refuse to play until after an interminable two-minute delay, others skip randomly making watching the movie futile, and then there is this [message from Fox].

How nice of Fox to include a link to their web site in this helpful and friendly message! Unfortunately for the owners of the player in question, the second-generation Samsung BD-P1200, there is no new firmware to download for the player. Visiting the URL listed above–which after a maze of redirects and confusing menus finally does get you to Samsung’s BD-P1200 firmware page–will give you no satisfaction. The latest firmware listed there is the same 1.0 version that shipped with the player. The same fate is in store for owners of LG’s first-generation dual-format BH100 player.

We just have one question: What are the odds that Samsung and other manufacturers of blu-ray players are always going to be ready with new firmware for all of the players they have ever manufactured?

New Blu-ray discs with BD+ DRM failing to play on some devices [Ars Technica]
(Photo:Engadget)

Comments

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  1. MonkeyMonk says:

    One more reason to stick with my very nice upconverting DVD player as long as humanly possible.

    I’ve given up on the whole HD-DVD/Bluray era. I’m waiting for online download as the next big thing although I’m sure it will have a host of DRM issues making it as unlikeable as possible too.

  2. LionelEHutz says:

    Mr. Blue-Ray, meet Mr. Beta-Max.

  3. gatopeligroso says:

    My boss came in fuming this morning. Apparently he was unable to view Fantastic 4 with the stunning Jessica Alba in all her Hi-Def beauty. I’d be pissed too.

  4. howie_in_az says:

    The irony is I’m sure the BluRay rip, should one exist, would play perfectly, assuming your machine is powerful enough.

    Score one for piracy.

  5. xxenclavexx says:

    i hate all things drm

  6. Sasquatch says:

    Imagine the outrage that would follow if a movie that was actually worth watching did this.

  7. Murph1908 says:

    You know, considering how often I actually end up watching my purchased DVDs anymore (Sin City is still in the original packaging), all this BS has probably turned me off to ever buying any again.

    I haven’t bought any recently, waiting for the format war to end or, preferably, go away from physical media.

    I might change my tune when I get done finishing the basement. Then, I’ll quit going to the movies, preferring to watch on my own big screen with my own popcorn machine. Yummy.

  8. XianZomby says:

    What’s a CODEC? Firmware? Software? Driver? These are issues for people that want to use media or files on a computer, so they can manipulate information. Or record it. Or “back it up (wink)” But playing any media in its intended player should never be a problem: vinyl on a record player, cassette on a tape deck, CD in a CD player, DVD in a DVD player. A BluRay disc is designed for the BluRay player. Every BluRay disc ever produced should work on every BluRay player ever produced, FOREVER. Once the disc/non-user configurable player/TV model of viewing entertainment is released to market, it is written in stone. Similar to CDDA. Still rock solid after 27 years. Compatibility issues and standards should have been hammered out a long time ago, before any disc or any player ever hit the market. It’s obscene that somebody can buy a BluRay disc, for the money they charge for them, stick it into a player labeled BlueRay, and find out they need to go on the Internet to watch what they paid for.

  9. ManiacDan says:

    This (along with HOWZIE_IN_AZ’s comment) reminds me of the DRM problem with Oblivion. If anyone recalls, there was intermittent problems reported by people all over. Some players would experience random stoppage of the game, for up to 5 seconds at a time. There was no apparent pattern to it, some people got everything working just fine right off the bat, some people experienced these vast pauses in the game.

    Turns out it was the DRM. People who bought the special edition, or people who pirated the game had it work just fine (I purchased it and installed a No-CD crack, which fixed the problem also). Doesn’t anyone in the industry read these articles where it’s clear that the DRM hurts only paying customers, and gives more people reasons to turn to piracy? How many times does the phrase “well my pirated copy works” have to be uttered before everyone just gives up trying to buy things? I would normally be against piracy, but if my options are:
    1) Pay for something and have it maybe not work, and never get a refund because I opened it
    2) Steal it and have it guaranteed to work because piracy groups have better customer service than corporations

    I would clearly choose #2. It’s a shame, and it ends up doing a lot of damage to every industry where DRM is used, but maybe that’s what we need. The next movie house or game publisher that just plain goes out of business because people can’t stand DRM might just serve as the warning the rest of them need.

    Probably not though.

  10. dirty foreigner says:

    @XianZomby: A CODEC is a device Solid Snake uses to communicate with his Colonel.

    Shouldn’t there be a bigger concern regarding people buying the Fantastic 4 and Day After Tomorrow movies?

  11. Uriel says:

    No one is going to buy blu-retard anymore if people need to “update it”. period. No one updates their DVD player, VHS tape-recorder, etc., why would someone EVER want to do this?

  12. warf0x0r says:

    Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer and The Day After Tomorrow.

    Well, technically this is a non-issue because no one is going to buy these movies.

    …because they suck. Hard!

  13. TechnoDestructo says:

    @XianZomby:

    Yes, it makes you wonder why you don’t just skip all the other steps and go straight to the internet to begin with.

  14. axiomatic says:

    Hahahahahahaha! Boy Blu-Ray is really superior to HD-DVD isn’t it?

    HD-DVD ethernet connection present on every unit for the win!

    (I really don’t favor one format over the other, I just love watching Sony flounder.)

  15. ry81984 says:

    What’s BLU-RAY???

  16. lemur says:

    Meg asked:

    We just have one question: What are the odds that Samsung and other manufacturers of blu-ray players are always going to be ready with new firmware for all of the players they have ever manufactured?

    Those odds are slim. The manufacturers are going to take advantage of the situation to force costumers to upgrade.

    As others have opined, with this kind of crap going on why on earth should I even bother to do anything through the legal channels when I’m almost certain I’m going to get screwed? I should just not buy anything anymore or go the illegal route.

  17. rmuser says:

    It’s like they’re just giving us reasons to pirate it instead. Smart move, jerks.

  18. LowerHouseMember says:

    I have neither the bandwidth, the hard drive space, nor even the hardware to pirate BDs, so I really hope they get their act together with this DRM business. And by get their act together, I mean get rid of it completely.

  19. hn333 says:

    @MonkeyMonk: I’m with you. Watching movies on a little round disk is so last century. The only problem with online download is that you don’t fully own it .

  20. shades_of_blue says:

    @howie_in_az: or you could download a VC1 reencode, burn it to a dual-layer dvdr and watch it on your real blu-ray player (or xbox360). no need for a H264 capable computer.

  21. shades_of_blue says:

    @lemur: He’s right, just look at the support life on a dvdrw drive. They usually update the drive firmware for 6 months to a year and discontinue support of that model. Same guys make these players, so the support won’t be there either in a years time.

    For Blu-ray, the best way to go is the PS3, or a Sony branded standalone unit. At least they’ll have to support the PS3, or their format dies. Samsung and LG have nothing to loose if Blu-ray fails, think about it.

    For HD-DVD, Toshiba or Microsoft [360 add-on], once again the main backers should offer the longest support. Other manufacturers have little to loose if your movies don’t work after their product life ends.

    It’s common sense, anyone could figure that out.

  22. mdot says:

    @axiomatic:

    HD-DVD ethernet connection present on every unit for the win!

    Easy on the HD-DVD thing. First, how many “normal” users have an ethernet connection in the same place they watch movies? Second, it seems to me all you have really done is become part of The Borg.

    Now whomever that DVD player calls home to will know what you are watching and when, maybe they add in some “contextual” advertisments (read: previews) that you actually think are on the DVD, but their not. Also, what stops them from doing some little phantom “upgrade” to your unit that might break some backwards compatibility with previously released material?

    The fact of the matter is 95% of the population won’t be able to tell the difference between HD/BluRay DVDs and normal ones played on a $40 upconverting DVD player. Not only that, but if your HD-TV isn’t capable of displaying 1080i (most new ones do, most over 2 years old don’t), there will never be any appreciable difference.

    I’ll wait till the war is over and there is a $40 high definition player, that works just like current DVD players, then I’ll buy. short of that, I’ll just use my $40 WalMart upconverter.

  23. hn333 says:

    @axiomatic: It’s the DRM thats the problem not the firmware updates. HD-DVD has DRM also.

  24. Indecision says:

    @hn333: “The only problem with online download is that you don’t fully own it .”

    To the studios, that’s not actually a problem.

  25. mthrndr says:

    DRM is going to be an issue with all media for a couple years, but I think it will finally get dropped. It makes early adopters miserable, though.

  26. Vandon says:

    @mdot: Easy on the HD-DVD thing. First, how many “normal” users have an ethernet connection in the same place they watch movies?

    Xbox wireless gaming bridge..$29.95 for the win!
    I use the one that I used to use with my Xbox and PS2, works like a champ.

  27. axiomatic says:

    @mdot: & @hn333: I know what the issues are. You guys missed my point. If Blu-Ray had an Ethernet port (whether you actually have a CAT5 cable near your TV or not) you could update the Blu-Ray firmware very easily.

    Neither of your arguments hold up very well. And on top of that, I said I wasn’t really a HD-DVD supporter, only that I love to watch Sony FAIL.

  28. Uriel says:

    @ry81984:
    “What’s BLU-RAY???”

    Good question. You see, HD is fairly new. 1080p resolution–which equates to 1,920×1,080 pixels–is the latest HD Holy Grail. That’s because 1080p monitors are theoretically capable of displaying every pixel of the highest-resolution HD broadcasts. With an HD-DVD, the picture should be perfect.(1080p is better than 1080i btw, simply because of interlacing)

    NOW – Blu-Ray takes it one step further. Whereas with normal HD-DVD, or HD television programming, you will have a bright, vibrant, HD color in every pixel, with Blu-Ray, this technology actually, and this is key, “splits pixels in two, forcing 2 HD colors per pixel”. I would suppose that a Blu-Ray disc playing on a 1080p HDTV, would actually make it a 2160p.

    Now, if you think carefully, this is a technology that came out shortly after HD was coined. This is the reason you constantly hear of HD-DVD players, and HD channels, and HD television, but don’t see any “1080p-s(s as in split) Blu-Ray TV’s”, or “Beyond HD Blu-Ray channels”, simply “Blu-Ray players” and “Blu-Ray software”. This technology came out too soon after HD for Sony and other companies to properly capitalize on it. They are still caught up in HD, and want it to remain the best thing around until they’ve finished putting one in every household, then they’ll try to make HD seem obsolete, and switch over to Blu-Ray.

  29. G-Dog says:

    What lawyer honestly thinks that adding complicated steps like this to watching a movie is going to actually help their format?

    All Sony needs is word getting out of this crap happening, and your average joe six pack (the deciding factor in any format war) is just going to avoid it like the plague. Just like Beta, the PSP, UMD, and the PS3

  30. G-Dog says:

    @axiomatic:
    I know of exactly one other person with a wired internet connection within their TV room, and only two other people with wifi internet. That’s out of all my family and friends.

    Something like 90% of HD owners don’t even have the right cables for HD content. What makes you think that your average 40 year old blue collar Nascar dad is going to have hardware and technical know how to do this? Us American’s can’t even run windows automatic updates correctly!

    And what about people without internet access? Yes, they exist.

  31. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    g-dog: Lawyers don’t think. I keep saying law school admissions is too easy. Law schools should at least be able to screen OUT people like Jennifer Pariser or Fancypants Pearson or lawyers that thought up this brilliant idea. And if law schools don’t do that job, the bar association should. Yet they’re not. The bar exam should be harder.

  32. RvLeshrac says:

    @Nero Diavolo:

    You, uh, can’t split pixels in two. It is physically (and electrically) impossible. You can’t display two colors in a single pixel because that would, again, be both physically and electrically impossible.

    You could, of course, produce a 1080p-i image, a full image with both A and B parts, each full image displayed containing slightly different colors. That would be stupid, however, given the refresh rates of LCD/Plasma displays.

  33. RvLeshrac says:

    Oh, and what happens when people brick their players with the firmware update? How do they decide on who to sue first.

  34. GTB says:

    I really don’t want to just post “HAHAHAHAHAHA” but honestly that’s the first response I had to this. I’m glad I don’t own a blue-ray player.

  35. lestat730 says:

    I like DVD’s just fine and have absolutely NO plans to get HD DVD or Blu Ray anytime in the near future. I think many people are like me in that respect. I’m no videophile and I could honestly care less about HD (except with my Xbox 360 which is my only HD enabled device.)

  36. SOhp101 says:

    Just say NO to Blue Ray and HD-DVD.

  37. savvy9999 says:

    but they had a ” :( ” so it’s all okay.

  38. Rahnee says:

    I have a regular dvd player that is less than a year old. It wont load some of the newer movies. This is not just a problem for bluray. I also recently switched careers. I manage a retail video store. I see this more and more each week as customers bring back dvds that wont load. As companies use more sophisticated encryption it makes older players unusable.

  39. MrEvil says:

    I figured the HD wars would produce nothing but losers in the end. Just lika SACD and DVD audio. Might fill a niche market, but won’t win over the general public.

    The studios gotta understand that Joe Sixpack won’t tolerate this kinda stuff from his Blu-Ray player. He could barely program his VCR back in the 90′s and just BARELY got his Tivo hooked up. He has to call Geek Squad for every little thing that happens to his computer….what makes you think he can figure out how to update the firmware on his BD Player? Or that he even knows what firmware is?

  40. tspack says:

    Note to self: Don’t buy a Blu-Ray player.

    Good to know.

  41. Uriel says:

    @RvLeshrac:

    Words straight from the horses mouth of every tech I’d ever asked about Blu-Ray: “It displays 2 colors in each pixel, and gives the picture a much sharper image than HD-DVD”