Friday, May 11, 2012

DMCA tech demonstration day

Copyright Office DMCA hearings, technological demonstration day:  I skipped the morning; this afternoon was demonstrations related to the proposed DVD/Blu-Ray/authorized download ripping exemptions, including for educational uses, documentary filmmaking, noncommercial video, space-shifting, and e-books.

Bruce Turnbull, counsel for AACS LA/DVD-CC introduced the opponents:

Tim Short, Public school teacher from Montgomery County: demonstrating screen capture.  Show DVD quality clip; demonstrate ease of screen capture software to make a clip; show replay quality; finally show clips he’s used in the classroom and why they’re better than the DVD.

DVD: Gattaca (from school library); wife, a biology teacher, often shows it: about choosing one’s egg.  Screen capture using Replay Video: recording what’s on screen; can be sized to capture what he wants.  Could also focus on one individual on the scene potentially. Can choose avi or MPEG-2 output.  (I saw jerkiness, probably because of frame rate problems, though the clip was a bit short—I hope the Copyright Office will make the files available along with the recording of the screen on which Short showed his examples.)

Typically he doesn’t show full screen videos; his students can deal with smaller file sizes.  Shows things like comparisons of 13 Days and actual archival footage related to the Cuban missile crisis.  Used screen capture to get internet footage as well.  (Wonder if the internet streaming folks think this is circumvention?)

Has really no problems with pixelization—showed clip from All the President’s Men.  Told them to pay attention to what was on the screen in specific areas circled by red.  Using screen capture, can show use of dual focus lens to create two layers of clarity in the original film, with blurry figures in midrange.

Students could write pros and cons of eugenics with smart pen on the board next to the Gattaca clip.  Don’t have to play the whole video: really saving time by taking out what you don’t need to see and focus their attention on what they should be looking for—advantage of screen capture over DVD is it can be set up in advance and save copy on hard drive & save it for next year.  (This is excellent educational practice; I’m delighted to see the opponents endorsing it and can only hope that the MPAA and its members will acknowledge it as wholly fair use.)

David Taylor, Counsel, DVD CCA and AACS LA.  Opponent of proposed Classes 7 D, E, and G; 8; and 10 A & B, demonstrating capture by smartphone. 

Showing a smartphone recording made with his own smartphone—they’re ubiquitous.  (Actually, though penetration is rising fast, they’re decidedly not, though I guess if you’re a high-paid lawyer they are so among your set.)

War Horse recording, original and then edited.  (Came out pretty dark and with some notable shakycam; he did not explain the lighting conditions/positioning/screen size of the TV he started with.)  Concededly suffers from shaky hand/smartphone.  There are tripods available for $10 to steady it.  There is some graininess to it in some scenes.  Used video editing software to clean it up.  He used a stabilization filter and a “clean” filter.  Stabilization filter fixed the shakycam.  “Clean” filter took out some of the graininess.  (Did not show the DVD original for comparison.)  Recorded in 720p; editing software would only show it in 480p.  (I’m not sure exactly what he meant here, because in the end he said he was showing a final product in 720p.)  One interesting thing was that the faster the movement was, the worse it looked (I’m not sure whether that’s called ghosting or stuttering)—he chose a fairly talky scene in War Horse (a war movie) where the only rapid movements came from a few individual limbs over a few seconds at most. 

Editing software: b-reveal 3.  Relatively cheap.  Droid Razr Max phone, $500.

Donald Leake Jr., Program Director, Copy Protection Business Development, IBM Research Division.  In support of opponent AACS LA with regard to proposed Classes 7G; 8; and 10B.

Managed Copy: we intend to roll this out later this year.  Blu-Ray discs: The Dark Knight.  Runs on a managed copy machine (Toshiba laptop), the software that makes the copy.  The other component is the managed copy authorization server.  Software is located outside Chicago.  Consumers’ managed copy machine won’t look like this, but you get a menu, and request authorization from the server.  The server will quote you a price for the material.  Content owner creates the offers, which are stored on the authorization server, and when consumer wants to copy, that offer information is loaded onto the consumer’s machine.  Bonus material is all free; main feature is not free.  When you click on “buy,” it launches a browser, asking for your email address; need to launch a browser to show you a privacy statement.  Content owners can also add additional terms and conditions.  Transaction processed; send a confirmation email to the consumer with an order ID.  This is really simple to do and easy for the consumer!  Copy is being made from the Blu-Ray disc, so the speed is determined by the speed of your optical disc drive.  If you want to see the copy, you can launch the special MGM player.  Supports different protected outputs: could output to hard disc or Microsoft DRM, or physical media such as writeable DVD or SD card or Sony memory stick.

When will it be ready?  Anticipate it in the fall.  The server is ready to go.  Content owners needed tools to figure out what info is actually on the optical disc.  Managed copies of every disc released since Dec. 4, 2009 can be allowed, so they needed to figure out what those were. 

Can this be used for clips?  No.  But could be adapted for that.  It could be done. 

Q: only option is to copy the entire thing?

A: yes.

Q: a protected copy.

A: yes, but you can take it to other devices that support protection.

Q: would not support taking clips and putting them into something else.

A: yes, but we have other ideas.

Q: same quality?

A: different resolutions for different output options.  “Bound copy” is full resolution.

Mitch Singer, Chief Digital Strategy Officer, Sony Pictures Entertainment, on behalf of Joint Creators and Copyright Owners, accompanied by counsel, Steve Metalitz.  Opponent of proposed Classes 7, 8, and 10.

Disruption: if you don’t innovate, you perish.  We don’t view disruption as a threat or try to stop it.  DVD: play-only model, most successful format launch in history.  Learned from CSS hacking and consumers’ use thereof.  It wasn’t about space shifting DVDs on other screens in the house.  All devices had DVD drives/players.  Disruption allows ordinary people to do what only highly trained people used to be able to do.  So how do we get consumers to do authorized things rather than renting from Netflix and ripping?  Built functionality into the next format.  Let consumers make backup copies of what they acquire. But consumers wanted more, so we started seeing services like iTunes, Xbox, PlayStation, Amazon, online delivery of content.  Bonus digital copy: allowed consumer to buy on disc and get a copy on platform of their choice.  For example, Warrior comes with an iTunes code.  Wolverine has bonus digital copy on disc: can be loaded onto laptop/Mac from disc.

Consumers wanted more.  If I took a copy and want to play it on my iPad, I couldn’t play it anywhere else.  A series of proprietary silos.  Polled consumers: they wanted to share content with their families.  They are worried about what happens if their hard drives crash.  They are worried about what happens if they switch devices/platforms: don’t want to be locked to a platform.  They want to keep track of what they own: bought movies on Xbox, iTunes, PS—have to remember where you bought it.  (I have this problem all the time with my e-readers.  It is indeed a significant pain and impacts my willingness to purchase.  I note that non-DRM formats provide an elegant solution to the problem.)

Ultraviolet: interoperable cloud service. Bundled with Blu-Ray and DVD.  Can sell discs with tokens: digital proof of purchase put into personal locker.  Multiple DRMs: can be decrypted by up to 5 DRMs.  Consumers will shortly be able to move content from one device to another.  300-400 million devices can use it.

Over 70 companies in the consortium: internet companies, Microsoft, Comcast, Nokia, motion picture studios.  Look for the logo: on physical and digital content; anything you buy goes into your Ultraviolet locker.  Can burn physical media from some retailers.  Cloud services keep track of what I own; 3d party services like Vudu present them to me so I can view them across any platform.  Can be disc-to-digital.  Wal-Mart will for a fee “convert” certain discs to Ultraviolet.  About 5000 movies available. 

Can share with your family.  My account has 6 family members: girlfriend, son at college, brother 20 miles away, sister in France, daughter who lives with her mother in Texas. Can access/stream wherever they are.  Daughter has filtered view because she’s young.  Can stream anything authorized from Kindle.

Vudu player: download app.  Can use when disconnected from internet.  Although Apple is not one of the members, any service that comes online can get permission to access an account and present the movies: Flixster, on iPad.  Allows bookmarks, so can start watching a “clip” at a preselected point.  Couldn’t access Vudu on Copyright Office wireless, but could use Flixster.  Hey, it works on the Nook too.

Balancing consumer desires and content provider comfort.  (And profits!)

Jim Morrissette, Technical Director, Kartemquin Educational Films.  Proponent for proposed Class 7 D.  Jack Lerner, Clinical Associate Professor, USC Gould School of Law—Director of USC Intellectual Property and Technology Law Clinic and Brendan Charney, Clinical Intern, USC Intellectual Property and Technology Law Clinic, sitting in support.

Changing landscape for providing finished programs; alternatives to circumvention don’t work for us any more.  Frontline on PBS/American Masters both made extensive use of archival DVD clips, and the current exemption served well.  Landscape of what public television requires: now only high-def, 1080x1920.  What started out acceptable in SD, 720x480, is now supposed to be HD.  Where do we get those pixels?  PBS is very stringent in terms of non HD content allowed; constantly updating specs, including resolution and field order.  Even audio specs are highly restrictive. We’ve been upconverting SD to HD.  This means adding more info—6x.  You can do that in software and it looks terrible; cheap hardware and it looks terrible; only way to use SD DVDs is to up-resolution them using complicated/expensive hardware.  For DVD with CSS, have to take out analog signal, Teranex Up-Converter, which handles the technical problems of field order and signal-to-noise etc. Outputs HD signal, which we need to record in realtime.  Convert into an editable file.  Teranex is relatively complex to operate; $2000. Least expensive box for capturing in realtime is $1500.  It’s expensive; interpolates the video signal, making up what it thinks is the rest of the info—guessing what the pixels should be.

Other techniques: playback DVD on computer or TV monitor.  We tried them to see if we could get broadcast-quality results.  Scan conversion: old kinescope method of aiming camera at TV set.  When we tried it, we took the iPhone 4s which shoots 1080.  We rigged a clamp stand, because there are no tripod connections on iPhones, nor are there audio inputs, meaning you have to record the speakers bouncing around the room.  As the scene shifts from bright to dark, the exposure looks terrible: rapid cuts, which are common in documentaries, create unacceptable flashing and blooming.  Moire: screen door effect that happens when you have fine tiny pixels in a camera interacting with fine tiny pixels on a display.  SD had smaller pixel count, less of a problem, but more so now.  iPhone shooting broadcast quality monitor; a frame taken from a SD DVD exhibits none of these problems because it’s straight from the disc.

Scren capture: we tried it on 3.1 GigaHz Mac, 8 gigs of RAM.  Played HD file and tried to capture 30 frames/second, which is what we’re required to produce (technically 29.7).  Note that Replay recommends 20 frames/second or less for smooth video.  That does no good.  Throwing away 30% of frames in original source, never to be retrieved.  See that jerkiness in what we captured from the screen—just can’t keep up.  SD works better because 1/6 the pixels.  Other problem with screen capture: Apple has quietly decided to make its current version of Lion disallow screen capture if you’re playing a movie or any file from iTunes.  Checkerboard instead as soon as you launch the program.  Means you can’t use a current Mac to capture.

There is a hardware method of scanning the screen; hardware can do a better job because it’s not demanding that the same computer play and record the movie at the same time. But it’s burdensome and expensive: hardware scan converters run $1500, etc. Used by TV stations for YouTube videos etc.; it’s the only way to get acceptable quality without dropped frames.

Another suggestion: we do documentaries exploring present day social issues, with lots of archival footage.  Was suggested that we go back and rescan the original film. We’d love that!  But it’s extremely expensive and time-consuming. Need archivist to pull out original film rolls, take them to film transfer suite, scan in every frame one by one.  We use a film scanner when we come across footage nobody has: Arri Film Scanner, 2 frames/second.  Then we pay to have it strung together and a file created.  Last one we did was 400 foot roll, 11 minutes, cost $800.  Archival = can’t just cue up a part. An archivist working with delicate footage starts at the beginning and goes to the end; doesn’t fast forward.

Leaves us looking to analog again.  Before the exemption, we used analog outputs; wasn’t very simple, needed a time-base corrector and a Macrovision removal; needed to digitize and create editable files. At every level there are issues. The specs of SD analog are significantly different for SD digital, much less HD—things like black levels.  Now you can’t even buy a time-base corrector, so we just keep a bunch of them around.

Final Cut X, latest version of professional video editing software, used by 2/3 of independent documentary film companies—less expensive, open architecture.  No more analog support.

Analog capture options are disappearing.  DVD conversion is difficult and marginal; no analog outputs remain, and only HDMI remains, creating fake upconversion with copy protection.  Blu-Ray is gorgeous but currently we have no way of getting HD out of the Blu-Ray because the outputs are all SD.  What about recording TV shows or newscasts?  DVRs now have selectable output control.  Down-resolution to make the analog outputs SD, and the analog outputs will disappear soon anyway. Analog window is rapidly closing.

Other source we need: streaming video. There is no analog version.  If you can’t get the file, you’re left with screen capture which gives the same problems of stuttering/frames.  We need to be able to use things like iTunes downloads. We aren’t ripping the entire DVD: use Handbrake to pick particular chapters.  There’s never a copy of the movie sitting around on the HD; we don’t have disc space or time, and we understand issues of possible piracy/laptop in wrong hands.

Q: say more about hardware scan.  TV studios use that—why can’t you?

A: they use it primarily for SD YouTube type videos where they need to isolate part of a webpage and convert it into a broadcast signal. We’d need a whole separate computer system, including the boxes; they run this stuff live and dump it.  We can’t be a CNN studio who can afford to keep it around for the once-a-week use.  There isn’t outsourcing for it either—there is an outfit that records TV news, and for a fee they’ll send you a DVD recorded analog.  Half the time the aspect ratio is wrong.  None of them are doing it in HD, and we need HD. 

No comments: