Format War!!!
Paramount

Why Warner's Blu-ray decision hurts pirates, regular consumers

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Warner’s decision to exclusively back Blu-ray definitely hurts pirates and could, in the long run, hurt regular consumers, too.

By all indications, right now, Blu-ray has the momentum to “win” the format war, especially if the reports suggesting Paramount will switch to it turn out to be true. That would leave Universal as the only major studio exclusively in the HD DVD camp. You can bet that won’t last long.

Pirates should care about this because Blu-ray disc is harder to crack than HD DVD; BD+, the new copy protection that even gave dedicated Blu-ray players problems a few months ago, hasn’t been cracked yet. (Even if it were cracked, new discs would ship with another copy protection mechanism and the appropriate firmware to decode it on stand-alone players.) That means no more high-def rips of movies. That’s not good for pirates like me. Pay for a movie? Yeah, OK.

Regular, law-abiding consumers could be bitten, too. Literally days after Warner’s announcement, Sony raised the price of its BDP-S300 player from $299 to $399, or by 33 percent. Thanks, Sony.

In any event, it’s still unknown whether or not high-def discs will catch on in the same way that DVDs did. DVDs look “good enough” you here from the non-technologically inclined people. Why upgrade to a multi-hundred dollar player and then have to pay $30+ for new movies when DVDs cost half that?

I’m pretty much just rambling, but I think people would be well advised to look at this Blu-ray/HD DVD development a little more closely. One thing’s for sure: PS3 now looks a little more attractive, being that it’ll play the now de-facto high-def discs and video games, whenever companies get around to releasing decent ones for the system.

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