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DRM in the cinema (astortheatreblog.wordpress.com)
197 points by mwilcox on June 14, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 85 comments



Ex-VFX guy here again. I feel like I have to comment on these threads because I'm thrilled to see 35mm film die.[1] The DRM sucks but....

> There are instances in the US already where some studios are refusing to freight 35mm film prints to cinemas.

Yeah, because it's crazy expensive. It costs ~$1500 to strike and ship a 35mm print[2]. Also, did you know that prints are delivered by some specialized delivery company? They're not just shipped around by FedEx. I can't remember the name of the company right now.

This incident sucks for them but I feel like this move to digital is great for the environment and a better moviegoing experience. I love the rock-solid picture with awesome contrast, and not to mention the lack of nasty chemical process in order to create it.

[1] - My original comment on "RIP Movie Camera": http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3114120

[2] - http://www.laweekly.com/2012-04-12/film-tv/35-mm-film-digita...


The issues mentioned in the blog sound very fixable. How hard could it be to allow a few minutes of unconstrained grace period from the beginning of the movie? That would take care of ensuring the projector works properly.

It should also be straightforward to offer functionality that verifies if the digital key is valid before the show starts.

I would not be surprised if those options already exist and they simply did not know how to use it.


It is possible to look at each feature on the screen server if it has an associated key and also when and for how long it unlocks.


I work for a group of venues that recently opened a film screening room that can handle almost all digital formats, 16mm, and 35mm prints. And we in fact ship our prints almost exclusively by FedEx. I had to take a canister to the local shop on a dolly just the other day.

Though, they are super expensive to ship. Maybe it's a regional thing, the delivery? Here in Mass you need to be a licensed projectionist due to the flammability.


> And we in fact ship our prints almost exclusively by FedEx. I had to take a canister to the local shop on a dolly just the other day

Huh. Go figure. Maybe things have changed. The only reference I've been able to find is on this page: http://business.highbeam.com/industry-reports/personal/servi...

Film delivery services, also known as film carriers, were usually classified under the transportation services industry, in particular SIC 4213: Trucking Except Local, but belonged under both classifications because of their unique services. Film carriers were specialized transportation companies serving the needs of motion picture theaters by delivering and picking up rented theatrical films. Film was transported between the cinemas and the national network of film exchanges, or film depots, or directly between theaters, based on their booking schedules. Metal canisters of 16mm or 35mm film were delivered to the theaters, usually on a weekly basis. Unlike other delivery services, film carriers had keys to the theaters they supplied so they could drop off and pick up film when the theater was closed. Most delivery was done by truck or van because of the heavy weight of the film canisters, which made them impractical for air freight, except in rush circumstances. Film carriers served only theaters, since other organizations that screened films tended to use the more easily transportable videotape format, or else had only occasional film needs, which could be handled by any non-specialized delivery service. There were fewer than 40 major film delivery companies throughout the country that served nearly the entire theater market. Most served up to a couple hundred theaters, some covering a region comprising several states. There were also a commensurate number of smaller film carriers that exclusively served single theater chains of around 15 to 20 theaters. Films generally weigh about 62 pounds, and are often accompanied by large cardboard stand-up displays and other promotional items theaters place in lobbies.


They certainly do weigh that much. We have a regular delivery scheduled with FedEx, but we have to meet them at our lockbox and open it for them. We may be slightly different as we aren't primarily a film venue.

This is incredibly interesting though. How such specialized industries develop and evaporate.


A two hour film, on six or seven reels costs about $75-100 to ship. Larger release films are usually shipped to and from Technicolor, so there are two shippings per venue. Smaller release, independent films, the distributor usually has one venue shipping to the next, thereby halving then number of ships.

Film today is printed on mylar which isn't very flammable, prior to mylar, acetate was used (also known as safety film) and also wasn't flammable. Nitrate was discontinued in the 30's-40's and that was the scary stuff.


You don't think there's a place for it in smaller / specialized venues for some time? It makes sense for mainstream Hollywood not to bother with it anymore, but I for one would appreciate to be able to see Bela Tarr on 35mm or Antonioni on 70mm again. I know many of these older prints are passed around too rather than struck per showing.


This is interesting, my interpretation of what they were saying was for _new_ prints. But in the case of old prints, I see your point.

Long term, I hope this is self-correcting. People still like vinyl, and although you can't find a Tower Records anywhere on earth, you can find vinyl shops that are still doing really well. The same could end up being true for film-projecting theaters.

My bias for digital probably clouds my judgment now so I have a question: would you be interested to see these on film if you could see a cleaned up, perfect, version on a 4K+ digital projector? What about the film version appeals to you?


A good, clean, new 35mm print is very clearly distinguishable from from a 4k projection. Even casually you can see the difference.

Not to mention how a good 70mm print looks. Or that a large percentage of screens aren't 4k but 2k.

4k is ok for me for most current releases. The difference is there, but I don't care too much. 2k is distracting.

But I cry at the idea of a rep house screening of 2001 even in 4k. Pay for that and you're being robbed.


> A good, clean, new 35mm print is very clearly distinguishable from from a 4k projection. Even casually you can see the difference

What difference are you referring to? If you're talking about clarity/pixels, the source format is as important as the projection. Academy and super 35 waste a lot of space on the frame. Super 35, which was really common for big time movies a few years ago because you could use spherical lenses, actually requires an intermediate step making it anamorphic for projection... which makes it less clear on the print.

The only 35mm source format I would argue provides higher resolution on 35mm than a 4K projector is going to be anamorphic (aka Panavision or 'Scope). It requires no intermediate step before projection. It looks like Nolan is shooting Dark Knight Rises anamorphic and 70mm for the IMAX stuff.

Other than resolution, the blacklevels of film are higher and there's weave on film. Plus, unless you only go to high end theaters that take projection seriously, your typical projector jockey at the local AMC can barely get the movie in focus. I once saw Saving Private Ryan projected with no matte. So every time an effects shot came on, the top and the bottom were cropped. Non effects shots had full frame. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_matte)

Anyway, given what we've seen with digital photography, I'd expect the technology here to advance pretty fast.


Raw resolution isn't so much the issue as the overall feel of the image. Color is probably the biggest advantage of film over digital.

But yes, you're right that the capture method is the biggest influence. And since digital is becoming the default choice even on mainstream projects, 35mm projection would eventually seem sort of silly anyway. Even Malick is shooting Alexa now!

Plus there's all the 2k DI stuff that's been out there, muddying the waters even more.

Nolan is one of the few with both a strong preference and the financial clout to hold on to high quality film capture, but I suspect a couple of projects down the road even he will have to give in.


This thread already covered new releases pretty well, but as for old film, I'm wary of digital transfers that can be very sloppy with their "cleaning" by adding too much sharpness or other filters, distorting the colors, etc. It's something you have little choice over when the available film stock is poor, but there are still ones where the film is in good quality but the digital transfer mutilates it.

I have a weaker opinion of vinyl, but from what I understand, it's a similar situation. Vinyl is probably a lot worse than film for retaining quality technologically but because of commercial interests, sometimes the vinyl release has far better mastering than the digital release. You can see this with older music, such as David Bowie's original releases on RCA and the later CD versions that are "remastered" such that they have a lot more dynamic compression. And you can see it in new releases as well with electronic music, where the vinyl release is targeted at DJ use and the CD one for listening at home, leading to different mixing. So while digital may be strictly better than vinyl in terms of retaining quality of input, due to cultural reasons the input is uneven depending on medium.


Do you think that if movie theaters didn't have to use an expensive delivery service, the movie going experience would get any better?


Not sure I understand the question. Do you mean if the cost for delivering prints was substantially lower... what would happen?


This is fighting piracy on the wrong level. Some people must be so afraid that someone could copy their "work" that they put a chain on the most trusted place.

The KDM unlocks the content of the file and allows the cinema to play the film. It is time sensitive and often is only valid from around 10 minutes prior to the screening time and expiring as close to 5 minutes after the scheduled time.

This made me shiver... no delays allowed at all. I dont want to know how many employees got bitten by that.


As others have said, this seems to be the perfect place to fight piracy. At present time most movies do not have high quality releases until the blu-ray discs are manufactured. When a movie goes to blu-ray 720p and 1080p copies are instantly released online. Having those movies available online opening weekend, if not before opening weekend, could be disastrous.


They already are in quite a few circumstances. It hasn't collapsed the industry yet - there are other reasons to go to a movie theater than to see the movie.

As a concrete example, there are tens of thousands of seeders of Prometheus right now at a couple sites I just checked. And quite a few people I know, who know exactly how to use torrents, went to see it in the theater.


Prometheus is leaked only as a camrip. Do you know how terrible camrip quality is? Do a google image search for "Prometheus camrip". Now compare and contrast that to the 1080p trailer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPW015u8m-g).

Camrips are not a serious threat. Day zero 1080p 5.1 leaks most certainly are.


Since the chance of a new Blu-Ray standard coming out that supports 4K is zero and given that the movies are already encoded in this format for the cinema, stands to reason these will get ripped, transcoded, and dumped on BitTorrent as soon as High-DPI screens become more common on computers.

1080p looks great and all, but 4K is simply stunning in comparison.


In your own home, with a standard 50" TV, would there actually be any visible difference between 1080p and 4K? Aren't we reaching the limits of human perception?


From far enough away anything looks good. If you look at the THX recommendations for cinema setup, they add up to something like a 60 degree viewing angle on the screen. To match human eye resolution you want approximately one pixel every 0.3-0.4 arc minutes; let's say 3 pixels / arc minute, or 180 pixels/degree. So for a screen that was "perfect" up to the limits of human perception, taking up a cinema-screen-sized area of your vision, you'd need at least 180*60~=10000 horizontal pixels.

We're approaching the limits of human perception, but we're not there yet; 4K does seem like a useful improvement over 1080


A 50" TV today is like a 15" computer screen was fifteen years ago. What about the future where you can pick up a 200" screen at Costco for $300?

1080p is decent enough for a ~50" TV, but for 60"+ you'd probably want 2K and for 100"+ you'd almost certainly appreciate 4K.


Did Apple not just release a notebook with a 200-something dpi screen?


I don't know about you, but I sit somewhat further away from our 50" TV than I do to this 17" laptop. Probably about 4m or so.

Having said that, even at that distance high quality HD content is noticeably better than standard resolution content.


Several thousand seeders of a CAM copy of Prometheus not a 1080p BluRay rip. Big difference!


Audio and video watermarking is soon mandatory and playback will be impossible without it. Guess that will stop much of the CAM business.


We already have audio watermarking with Cineva which stops mutes playback on devices such as the PS3. Obviously the media player needs to implement detection of Cineva and then block playback (or audio in the case of Cineva which I believe causes the player the mute the audio). I very much doubt VideoLAN and MPC-HC will implement such things however I can see Windows Media Player and other "official" media players implementing it.

Cineva is interesting as from what I have read it can survive even pretty extreme audio changes so even the audio from a CAM copy with crappy mono sound will still carry the watermark from capture to encoded MP4 (or whatever you capture to). I have not seen any statistics on how successful it actually is at surviving in real world use though.


I don' think you can prevent analog camera's from recording video with watermarking. If you somehow prevent windows from playing back video based on some watermark scheme someone will just write a Linux program that strips / adds watermarks.


I guess a lot of the CAM pirates works in the cinema business. With watermarking the studios can find out exactly which auditorium it has been recorded in. I guess that will discourage a few pirates ...


If someone really wanted to make a pirate version off of a cinema copy, they could. This DRM, like all DRM, is pointless since by definition you must be able to decrypt the stream at some point, and at that point a copy can be made. The rest is just security through obscurity.


Well, to be fair, if someone found a way to pirate straight from the projector that would be a pretty high quality copy floating around.

It also strikes me that this allows distributors to control for unreported screenings, which allowed for unreported income. Probably not as common as it was way back when, but certainly possible.


I could be wrong, but has hasn't the business model for showing films changed as well? Theatres used to rent the 35mm prints by the week or month. Now, studios ask for a cut of each ticket sold, don't they? That's why studios are worried about unauthorized showings that could happen "off the books" and go unreported revenue-wise.


Yeah, the distributors (often but not always arms of studios) take a percentage of each ticket sold. It's usually a sliding percentage- the distributor gets more at first and then the balance slides in favor of the exhibitor (theater) the longer the film has been out.

The big chains are all computerized and report back to the distributors and can generally be trusted to be truthful. It's the mom and pop theaters that might have cheated in the past.


My experience is that the only time a key unlocks the movie only 10 minutes prior to the screening is for previews. Usually the keys are valid for about a week.

BTW, the screen servers will show when a accepted KDM unlocks a feature and for how long it's valid. I have never seen a KDM that is accepted by the screen server and then "doesn't work".


Actually, this is the place to fight a lot of the large scale piracy. Unreported screenings and borrowed film prints are fairly big concerns.


The DCI security specification was modeled explicitly to "control lightly, audit tightly" - exactly because technical problems would cause a lot of trouble to the cinemas.

Seems like this philosophy has not prevailed in the actual implementation...


This is the part that made me cringe:

The [DRM key] arrives as an email zip attachment that then needs to be unzipped, saved onto a memory stick and uploaded onto the server.

Seriously? That's how we're delivering time-sensitive digital information? In 2012? Ugh, it makes my head spin.

Is there some reason that the projector can't be connected to the network directly, so the vendor can push the key straight to it without all the sneakernet nonsense?


Live by the sword, die by the sword. If you ask a bunch of hackers how to make a mission-critical application secure, one of the top answers is going to be 'air gap.' In economic terms, security has greater value (to the publishers) than the mild inconvenience of a few shows starting late.


Maybe, but if they allow for usb sticks all that is undone. Sneakernet is hard to firewall.


The actual transmission of the key could be done over a custom channel, like a serial connection only used to read the drm key. It would be even more secure than using a usb stick.


The key is useless without the server and feature it is issued for. There is no need to secure the transmission of the key. Automated delivery over http(s) is starting to get more and more normal (most screen servers don't have such capabilities yet, so you will need a Theatre Management System or separate box which will receieve the key and deliver it to the server).


My point wasn't to make the transmission secure (since it would one be a 50 cm wire between two boxes in the projection room), but to isolate the screen server from the internet.

Even if the internet connected box gets hacked, they have no chance of accessing the screen server through the serial cable.


Honestly what I love about this fact is that if there's an email delay the movie doesn't play. And if someone learns how to set the clocks back, it no longer matters that it's time sensitive!


The servers have a secure clock which can only be adjusted 6 minutes each year. If it goes out of this limit you will need a special package or code from the manufacturer to adjust it back or in worst case you will have to change the mediablock.


I think the limiting factor is that (crazily enough) it's hard to get internet to a lot of the places that projectors are located. Internet seems ubiquitous to us in houses/apartments but it's apparently hard to get it when your theater is in the middle of a mall or in some old building.

I believe there's a push to start distributing the encrypted films over satellite but that has its own problems because now many theaters have to start negotiating "roof rights" with their landlords.


That makes no sense: they still have to get the file from email to copy it to an USB stick, and they have to do that just a few minutes before showing time. How could they do that without Internet access on premises?


No, they usually get the KDM well in advance. The time limits that are burned into the KDM are not related to the delivery times of the KDM itself.


Sigh. There is a proposal to do just this in the works. http://isdcf.com/papers/ISDCF-Doc8-TheaterKeyRetrieval-TKR-v...


I worked with the Tech crew in my high school theater department for a couple of years. There we explicitly removed network connectivity from from the sound/lighting computer to increase stability.


This is fairly standard. As mentioned down thread, an "air gap" is a huge safety measure for production computers. Lowers the likelihood of a virus infecting the machine, and if a botnet does get on there somehow, it still can't talk to C&C. You can't just have anti-virus running on your Watchout display machines or your SFX playback machine, that CPU load is awful. So we disconnect!


Plenty of theaters have no internet connection. Offices are usually somewhere else, there are not employees or patrons that would benefit internet access. So now they have to add an ISP with network wiring to every booth? Seems a silly waste of cost, plus leading to the inevitable "now we can remote disable your projector if we feel the need."


This is already happening. The company I work for deliver services that push both KDMs and DCPs (features, trailers advertisement) to Theatre Management Systems (TMS) and screen servers.


This is why I love analog, and not just in the sense of "I'm an old fart and old things are better" (though I'm sure there's a good dose of that), but because there's a whole spectrum between "working" and "not working".

(Environmental issues aside, that is -- I recognize that the chemicals needed to manufacture and develop traditional film are pretty nasty.)

With digital, if it works, it's 100%, which is great, but if it doesn't work, it's 0%, and that can make it hard to even get a grip on what the problem is or which direction to go to find a solution. (DRM just makes this worse.) I've got some weird routing to my TV because the obvious HDMI connection doesn't work, and how do you troubleshoot that?

I once went to a theatre where the projectionist came out and announced that they had just broken a lens (apparently they had the largest lenses in town at the time) and couldn't project the film as they wanted to. They offered a refund, but for those who stayed, let us vote on what to do: use a smaller lens and see the film normally but smaller, or use the proper size lens but put up with 3-4 minute pauses every 20 minutes. Everyone stayed, and we chose the latter (who wants to see a small movie in a theatre?), and I don't think it was the wrong choice, but I learned that changeovers are not like commercial breaks: some of them are in really inconvenient places in the film, plot-wise!

That's a situation that could never happen with a new digital projection system. The odd thing is that even though we groaned at how poorly-timed the changeovers were, in my mind the whole event is an overwhelmingly positive memory. I learned something about how projection systems work, and we got to interact with the projectionist, and it was a unique movie night we got to talk about, and I even enjoyed the movie still. We sometimes act as though the only goal of cinema is to reproduce every pixel and soundwave perfectly, but my most enjoyable movie experiences don't correlate to that, and in this case is almost the polar opposite.

I suppose I'm a bit weird like that.


I once went to a theatre where the projectionist came out and announced that they had just broken a lens (apparently they had the largest lenses in town at the time) and couldn't project the film as they wanted to. They offered a refund, but for those who stayed, let us vote on what to do: use a smaller lens and see the film normally but smaller, or use the proper size lens but put up with 3-4 minute pauses every 20 minutes. Everyone stayed, and we chose the latter (who wants to see a small movie in a theatre?), and I don't think it was the wrong choice, but I learned that changeovers are not like commercial breaks: some of them are in really inconvenient places in the film, plot-wise!

I might be misunderstanding something about cinema projection, but how does a broken lens lead to 20-minute segmentation? The only things I can think of are perhaps it has some sort of cooling mechanism (I know the bulbs do emit massive quantities of heat) that needed a chance to cool off, or they were somehow playing it on a different projector which couldn't handle a full film-reel?

Certainly a more interesting experience than the few glitches I've encountered including "Yes, we know you've been complaining since the 3rd minute of playback that we had the aspect ratio wrong, but we're only going to fix it now, 70% of the way through the film"


> but how does a broken lens lead to 20-minute segmentation?

I think a "proper" analogue theatre has two projectors. With the films split into reels, one reel is played through one projector, and then when it's time to switch to the next reel, the projectionist cues it up on the second projector, and then switches between the two. Like a DJ mixing records, I suppose.

So if one lens is broken, they need to stop the film, feed in the second reel, then carry on playing. Hence the 20 minute break.

I may be wrong about this. Other commenters seem to be former projectionists; I'm just some guy who's seen Fight Club ;)


This is exactly right; although not all "proper" theaters have two projectors. Where I work we have one and a "long play" tower which allows us to play the whole film with one projector.

Many still do run changeover systems, though.

(In case you're interested, I work in an indie cinema in the UK, and we're really scared about the costs of changing to digital, which we will need to do in the next 12 months)


Yes, this was my understanding as well.

On Youtube, if you search for words like "theatre projector changeover" there are some great videos of projectionists showing how it's done.

Apparently there are "platter" systems that let you splice all the reels together and project the entire film through one lens with no changeovers, but my story took place at least 15 years ago, and it was not a very big or modern theatre.


ah yes, that does explain it nicely, thanks!


> the projectionist can’t test to see if the KDM works or that the quality of the film is right before show time

This seems like a simple and critical feature. If the distributor wishes to impose these extreme constraints on the projectionist, then the projectionist needs to know its going to work well in advance. The projectionist shouldn't even need to be in the room when the movie starts.

I've run into this pattern a lot in web development. If you want a feature to go live at 6:00pm, you don't release it at 5:59pm and just hope it works. You program it to go automatically flip at 6:00pm and release the code early. The pre-programmed time can be overridden in the production environment, so you can easily test and know for sure (or as close as possible to sure) whether it will flip at 6:00pm or not.

(I'm not saying my solution is perfect, just better than the naive solution.)


Except that in this case, you can't test. The only way to test is to load the movie, load a key and play the movie. No key? No movie, and no test. In addition, there is no way the distributor will let you have a "test" key. One of those would be manna from heaven for any unsavory projectionist who wanted to make high quality copies from theater prints.


No test key required. Inputting the actual key prior to the scheduled slot should cause the projector to show a randomly chosen 30 second segment of the movie, with an overlay message at the bottom saying, "Test projection - key valid starting at HH:MM on dd/mm/yy". This should work around 10 times. The overlay should be background-color: #000; opacity: 0.6; color: #fff.


In order to get an accurate prediction whether the presentation is going to work or not, the key must be valid for decrypting the whole movie. If it is, then it can provide no more piracy protection because then you would use it to decrypt the movie independently of the projection system.

If the key is only good to decrypt a random part of the movie, then the test says nothing about the success or failure of the key to decrypt the rest of the movie.

Tangentially related: what is to stop a technically inclined projectionist to use the key during the time it is valid to decrypt the movie?

I would assume that at presentation time, there is enough of decryption key material available to the projection system to cover all of the movie, otherwise a presentation would have to be interrupted as the cinemas internet goes down.


That actually happens: Screenings have been interrupted because the internet connection to the projector gets cut. :-/


That makes no sense. The KDM is a self contained public-key encrypted message containing the decryption keys. It requires no internet connection to verify and extract the keys, and it certainly doesn't need to do it during the movie. In fact, most projectors are not even connected directly to the internet.


How do you make sure that system date was not tampered with then?


I cant remember how that works but I suspect the RTC is in the FIPS can and that it takes effort to set it. They wouldn't go to all that effort to put times in the KDM if someone could just bypass it by setting the system date. It's a pretty well thought out system.


Correct. The DCI says the secure clock only can be adjusted 6 min per year, 20-30 min with a code/package from the manufactorer. If it's adjusted over this limit the mediablock will have to be changed.


That's just a software deficiency. There's no reason the software couldn't use the KDM to get the keys and decrypt a frame or 2 (or even a few seconds worth) of the (MXF) film footage as a test, regardless of the time. The encryption isn't numerically tied to clock-times--it's only enforced by the software (which now that I think about it may be enforced by legal contracts somewhere).

> One of those would be manna from heaven for any unsavory projectionist who wanted to make high quality copies from theater prints.

Not really. The keys and image decryption happen in a tamper-resistant "FIPS can" in the media server and then are re-encrypted and sent across a bus to the projector. Some newer projectors have the FIPS can directly inside so that there are no physically exposed interfaces with anything other than the full-blown AES encrypted frames. Having a KDM means you can play the movie but you can't ever actually get to the data.

Fun fact: before DCinema there used to be people who owned tele-cine scanners mounted in the back of flatbed trucks that would go around to theaters and pay unscrupulous employees to borrow the film for a couple hours. They'd have an very nice scan of the movie for pirate DVDs the day the movie came out.


Surely they could create test keys that authorize X minutes of playback to test projection. That would make the cam concern moot and address the desire to test the setup prior to show time.


Actually this is a better situation than getting a bad reel or worse not receiving the movie at all the day or two before release on film.

I used to manage a theatre and sometimes had issues (more often re-releases than new releases) for instance our copy of Pulp Fiction was missing a reel, had to wait days for another one to ship rather than just making a call. Sometimes movies came reeled backwards, missing reels, missing entire canisters with multiple reels, scratched reels etc. Digital removes all those distribution problems (and that is some heavy material). And not to mention the times when a platter would break and drop the entire film on the ground every now and again. I'd say digital has less problems.

I did have fun building movies on Thursday nights and watching them for quality but digital is much better in terms of distribution. The reel feeling will be missed though.


Hollywood's lack of trust in anybody will be the doom of the cinema, so they need to tread carefully here. If going to the cinema (differentiating that from the megaplex) means crap like this, the cinema will die. When enthusiasts are pushed away, the lifeblood dies.

If your fervent supporters lose faith, you are in trouble.


This was the important part for me:

What I’d really like to leave you with here is the essence of how last night made us feel: the industry is shifting – not only its medium, not only its focus, but with it – and most significantly for theatres like us – it’s shifting the element of control. We’re in relationship with you, our audience, but it seems to me as though someone is trying to break us up.

So much of the problem with DRM, and the weirdness of copyright-based business models, is not logistic ("I want to watch the Matrix in HD now!") but aesthetic, artistic, moral: it feels wrong on a basic human level to thread your engagement with the culture through a maze of technical, legal, bureaucratic obeisance.

I've decided, personally, to do my best not to violate IP laws, because I don't want the moral hazard of arguing against a law while financially benefiting from violating it. I want my vision clear. But I can say with clear vision that there's something inhuman and anti-human about the scenario described in the article, and I hope we find a better way.


I hate DRM and hope it dies, but I can't support the authors love of physical films. It strikes me as too much like hipster luddistism, and failing to see the disadvantages of physical reels.

Remember this cinema is in Melbourne, Australia. Australians (like the rest of the non-US world) are sick of delays in films being released. Piracy has done a bit to help get rid of the stupid regional delays (Matrix №2 was released at the same time globally). Digital film distribution would do wonders to help the Aussie cinema industry!


On the one hand, digital distribution has many advantages over film distribution, but I can't help but feel it's being rushed when it's not quite ready.

DRM muck-ups like this are, of course a problem. However, the quality of the product isn't up to snuff yet either. e.g. Digital IMAX is terrible. The whole point of the IMAX format is to project a massive image with incredible detail. It's supposed to feel more real because so much of your peripheral vision is engaged while you're still able to focus in on one spot and see very fine detail. Digital IMAX gets the size right, but the detail is lacking. In every digital IMAX theater I've been in I was able to see individual pixels on the screen. This of course, leads to all sorts of digital artifacts like shimmering (especially noticeable during credit crawls).

IMax film is still breath-taking and superior to anything digital. I hope it sticks around in at least some theaters until digital IMAX gets its act together. I also hope to see some of the great 70mm classics (e.g. Lawrence of Arabia) on film before it's too late.


All that just to ensure a film doesn't get copied and pirated...and yet it still does


Nope, as it says in the article, it is also to track how much the film is being played, to ensure that they are being paid correctly.


The odd thing though is that (at least in the US) film payments are based on a percentage of ticket sales, not number of showings. I used to work at a repertoire theater, and we added late night showings at the last minute on sever occasions based on audience demand.


> the industry is shifting – not only its medium, not only its focus, but with it – and most significantly for theatres like us – it’s shifting the element of control

That's a bingo. Like with so many things DRM, where rights are no longer balanced and only the concerns of one side, the DRM-issuing side are ever taken into account, this is a power-grab.


Totally interesting insight into the cinema world. My only questions is why they waited so late to test if the film would play? (I am sure there is a technical reason.)


FTA: "The KDM unlocks the content of the file and allows the cinema to play the film. It is time sensitive and often is only valid from around 10 minutes prior to the screening ..." Without the KDM being unlocked they can't test it, so the earliest opportunity is 10 minutes before the screening.


The story links to an "https" URL, which is odd for several reasons,

1. Since when does a blog need to be secure?

2. The certificate is issued to "*.wordpress.com", which is useless. Each subdomain under wordpress.com should have a distinct certificate since they have a distinct author. The certificate should be specific to the author, not the host.

- I realize it is not realistic to assign unique IP addresses to each wordpress.com subdomain. I just don't like it.

3. The page loads insecure content from gravatar.com and googleservices.com, which throws up annoying errors.


Certificates don't go with "authors", they go with domains. They are only (!) a promise that some grown up at a cert factory decided that the admin of the host you are connecting to was the proper owner of that domain.

Now sure, there might be value in having per-subdomain certs in wordpress (though that would be rather complicated for wordpress to administer). But there's nothing wrong with that wildcard cert -- it provides proof that you've reached a blog hosted at wordpress, and not a MitM ready to lift your account password when you try to leave a comment.


Mixing insecure content makes it stupid, but as someone who uses https on my blog, it comes down to why not to use it. For the time being there's no reason, especially when Gandi give free certificates with a domain.

The one quirk is that I'll always have to have something to redirect to unsecured should traffic ever get so high it becomes an issue. Although I certainly don't expect that any time soon.


Sorry, this was my fault. I have a Chrome extension that forces everything to https, and forgot to remove it when I submitted the link.




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