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DRM Flub Prevented 3D Showings of Avatar In Germany 386

Posted by timothy
from the token-of-our-appreciation dept.
Fraggy_the_undead writes "According to German IT news site, yesterday several 3D showings of Avatar couldn't take place (German; Google translation to English), because the movies were DRM protected such that there had to be a key per copy of the film, per film projector, and per movie server in the theater. The key supplier, by the name Deluxe, was apparently unable to provide a sufficient number of valid keys in time. Moviegoers were offered to get a refund or view an analogue 2D showing instead."
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DRM Flub Prevented 3D Showings of Avatar In Germany

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  • Re:Wait... (Score:5, Informative)

    by FrostDust (1009075) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @02:56PM (#30477942)

    Reading the Google translation, it seems to say that the theaters had purchased enough licenses for their showings, but a glitch, or technical ineptitude, prevented the DRM from validating all of their copies of the movie.

    I think it's a big leap to go from that, to where the submitter says that the supplier was unable to provide enough keys.

    The most persistant argument against DRM surfaces here: because of the intricate technicalities involved in DRM systems, legitimate customers were denied access to material they payed for.

  • Re:And... ? (Score:3, Informative)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @02:58PM (#30477968) Journal

    DRM creates un-necessary barriers that make pirating unlocked media even more appealing.

  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @03:02PM (#30478046) Homepage Journal

    It's not film. It's digital. Think a big, honkin' flash drive

    Your sig is somehow appropriate.

  • Re:Wait... (Score:5, Informative)

    by SoTerrified (660807) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @03:05PM (#30478090)

    ,,,isn't this an issue with the company not purchasing the proper licenses in the appropriate amount of time rather than an issue with DRM?

    The issue with most DRM is that it a) Does not actually stop pirates (at best it slows them down) and b) Does impair the ability for legitimate owners to use their purchase as intended.

    This is a perfect example. The DRM was broken so quickly, keys were available online [] so pirates were not inconvenienced, but the legitimate customers (the theatre who was showing the movie) were unable to use the item they had purchased in a timely manner.

    So I would disagree, this issue is indeed with DRM

  • Re:not surprising (Score:4, Informative)

    by Mategan (669664) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @03:08PM (#30478182) Homepage
    Also happened in Australia. [] Cant imagine these are 2 isolated cases when its such a popular movie either.
  • by VitaminB52 (550802) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @03:16PM (#30478286) Journal
    The legal system manages the rights on books, movies and music.

    DRM 'manages' the restrictions when playing a recording - in fact DRM often violates the rights of a consumer (e.g. when preventing making backup copies while the legal system grants consumers the right to make a backup copy).

  • Re:not surprising (Score:3, Informative)

    by Arthur Grumbine (1086397) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @03:29PM (#30478474) Journal
    s/Dragon Ball Z/New Moon
    Pop-culture update complete!
  • Re:Wait... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Noonian Soong (1016626) * <soong@member. f s f . org> on Thursday December 17, 2009 @03:32PM (#30478510)
    No, it is not a licensing problem. I read the German article and it clearly states that everyone paid, but the company providing the final keys (it is a process with several stages) could not produce the correct key. It was due to technical difficulties, not licensing issues.

    Here is my non-Google translation of the important part that explains what went wrong technically (sorry for the slightly unidiomatic English; I tried to stay as close to the original as possible so that the text would not become my interpretation of the original):
    Apparently, the DRM-keys for the film files were the cause of the problem. The distributor of 20th Century Fox sends the JPEG2000-encoded and AES-128-encrypted movies on external hard drives via courier. After that, the data (in the case of Avatar 150 GByte) needs to be copied to the theater server. Each digital projector/server combination generates a different certificate and transmits it to the DRM service in charge. The DRM service creates an individual key for each movie and sends it back to the theater. The key is always only valid for one copy of the film as well as one projector and can be limited to specific time periods and times of day.

    Yesterday (Wednesday), the transmission of the correct keys for the 3D screenings did apparently not work in several cases, though. Theater technicians tried for several hours to decrypt the gigantic pile of data, but apparently the service responsible for the digital distribution of the film, Deluxe, could not provide valid keys yesterday.
  • by BetterSense (1398915) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @03:43PM (#30478690)
    His confusion is not surprising considering the annoying tendency to keep calling all motion pictures 'films' even if a piece of celluloid was never incorporated in the production, distribution, or showing. We even have skateboarders calling their videos "films". At the same time some people actually still make films. Please, can we call things what they are?

    Motion picture/picture/movie--a series of pictures that appear to move when viewed in quick sequence.

    Video--an analog or digital electronic encoding of motion pictures.

    Film--a piece of thin cellulose or plastic, that may contain pictures. Once upon a time, all motion pictures were films, because that's all there was.
  • by pnewhook (788591) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @03:49PM (#30478792)

    Film--a piece of thin cellulose or plastic, that may contain pictures. Once upon a time, all motion pictures were films, because that's all there was.

    You forgot to say 'has vastly superior resolution to a digital movie'

  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @03:50PM (#30478808)

    The first run place I go is still film. If you are in the middle in the top 5 rows, you can hear it going clickety clickety.

    The image is still superior to digital for me. There's no "grid".

  • Re:Wait... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @03:53PM (#30478840)
    Alright, just a minute. Providing a link to google "avatar keygen" is complete bullshit. 95% of that is automatically generated nonsense. You can type in "any_string_of_characters" and "keygen" and get literally thousands of results for supposed key generators. They're usually just links to places that want you to pay to download some nonsense, or more often, they're malware downloads.

    Here's evidence:
  • Re:Keygen (Score:2, Informative)

    by sbeckstead (555647) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @03:55PM (#30478870) Homepage Journal
    Yeah try that and let me know how the JP2K decryption goes, and let me know what player you use to watch it on cause I've got news. What was DRMed for that theater was not a simple avi and you can't gen a key for it without the certs for the entire key chain.
  • Re:not surprising (Score:3, Informative)

    by Amouth (879122) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @04:09PM (#30479114)

    Originally it was put in there to make the copyright FBI warning sign stay up so there is no excuse that the movie didn't have it - then they realized they could flip that bit for the ad's too..

    I've had movies where they ad's where so long i just ripped the damn movie and re burned it without the ad's

  • Re:Wait... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 17, 2009 @04:15PM (#30479240)

    This is actually not true, I worked for a certain large, three letter cinema chain for a number of years, and we would routinely be delivered one hard drive containing one copy of a movie we were playing on multiple screens. The _license_ files ARE restricted to a certain server/projector/movie file/sound processor/essentially every electronic device related to showing the film combination, however.

    Essentially the entire system is designed to prevent projection staff from making high-quality pirated copies of movies days before the film is released, which is practically impossible in the case of a 3D film for a wide variety of reasons, not the least of which is the 144 frames per second it plays at (72 frames per second for both eyes) and even if you have a camera that can sync with the output of the projector, the polarization specs aren't exactly common knowledge.

    Oh, and forget cracking the DRM and pirating the raw MPEG, the files run in the hundreds of gigabytes for a 90 minute film.

  • by besalope (1186101) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @04:33PM (#30479578)

    # Digital:

    • 720×480 (520 lines): D-VHS, DVD, miniDV, Digital8, Digital Betacam (pro)
    • 720×480 (400 lines): Widescreen DVD (anamorphic)
    • 1280×720 (720 lines): D-VHS, HD DVD, Blu-ray, HDV (miniDV)
    • 1440×1080 (810 lines): HDV (miniDV)
    • 1920×1080 (1080 lines): D-VHS, HD DVD, Blu-ray, HDCAM SR (pro)
    • 10,000×7000 (7000 lines): IMAX, IMAX HD, OMNIMAX

    # Film:

    • 35 mm film is scanned for release on DVD at 1080 or 2000 lines as of 2005.
    • 35 mm original camera negative motion picture film can resolve up to 6,000 lines.
    • 35 mm projection positive motion picture film has about 2,000 lines which results from the analog printing from the camera negative of an interpositive, and possibly an internegative, then a projection positive.
    • Sequences from newer films are scanned at 2,000, 4,000 or even 8,000 columns (line measured the other directions), called 2K, 4K and 8K, for quality visual-effects editing on computers.

    Wiki Source []
    So.. 6,000~8,000 lines instead of 1080p (or 7000 for digital IMAX). It's VASTLY superior.

  • Re:not surprising (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sir_Dill (218371) <slashdot.zachula@com> on Thursday December 17, 2009 @04:34PM (#30479592) Homepage

    We understand that you want everything for free and you want to freeload off the backs of the artists. Clear as a bell. Property isn't what it used to be. The digital world is different and your model of the world is gone. Get over it.

    And so is your model.

    Lets take a step back and ask, what is an idea?. Is it the paper its printed on? the CD its pressed onto? no. Its information pure and simple.

    Back in the old days, the information was bound by the media it was distributed on, and duplicating said media or information from said media was not only difficult and time consuming, it resulted in a product which was inferior to the original.

    Supply was limited to the number of physical objects produced, duplication was cost prohibitive, thus the status quo of the supply and demand curve was maintained through limited supply.

    Fast forward to the digital age and now supply is infinite, which means production costs eventually reach "zero" (now I know this isn't completely true, but stay with me) once the initial production costs are recouped.

    The consumer says "sure I don't mind hooking you up with a copy of that song, or that book, or that movie because its not like loaning out a book, cd, or dvd that might get damaged or lost, and I lose nothing." We were raised (well some of us were raised)to believe that sharing is a good thing, the only downside to sharing is that we have less of that which is shared....oh we don't in this case.

    Joe Executive ,because lets be honest...its not the artists, actors, directors, writers who are driving this, its corporations and associations designed to control the markets in which they operate. Personally I think it would be interesting to see some RICO probes into hollywood and motown. I think people might be shocked at what turns up, however that's an entirely different discussion. He thinks here I have this thing which costs x amount to create, but ongoing production costs are comparatively nothing which means once you reach the break even on creation costs, you rake in the profits from continued sales. They then think, there's no way to enforce licensing restrictions that limit resale on physical media, but hey digital is something different, if I can come up with a system that I control who can and can't access the file, then I can make them pay me if they want to sell the content like they would a used CD. Then it gets really scary because they start talking about use tax and ways to make consumers pay for every consumption much in the way you pay every time you goto a concert or movie theater....I don't think I have to explain why this a terrible thing for the consumer.

    Don't get me wrong. I am not deluded enough to think that I deserve everything for free just because the cost involved in ripping a dvd is negligible. But I also don't think that a company should be able to control what I can and can't do with legally acquired content. As far as broadcast TV goes....I already pay for it both through my cable company and through purchasing things which are advertised on the shows I watch. It seems as though folks forget that just because I can pick something up with an antenna without paying a monthly fee, doesn't mean its free nor is my recording of that content stealing. I think that tv series on disc is a fad and will disappear once on demand services start carrying more vintage content.

    So just for the record....your world isn't what it used to be either.

  • by PCM2 (4486) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @05:03PM (#30479998) Homepage

    Well, if you read the source you cite, you'll notice that only the original camera negative has "up to" 6,000 lines. By the time the film is printed and shipped to the movie theater, that has been cut down to around 2,000 lines.

    According to this Wiki source, [] modern digital projection systems have up to 2,100 lines. Also, digital movies don't degrade when they are projected like film does, the lamps in digital projectors are often brighter than the ones used in film projectors, and the image is more stable onscreen (because there is no film to jump around in the gate, as in a traditional projector) -- so the viewer's experience of digitally-projected movies can, in fact, be superior to that of traditional film.

  • Re:not surprising (Score:3, Informative)

    by Blakey Rat (99501) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @05:26PM (#30480312)

    Man I wish I could find Ebert's post on that idiotic copyright screen. IIRC, he basically adds up all the time that has been wasted by humanity staring that that red screen that has never, *ever*, prevented a single case of movie copying.

    I have some DVDs by Rhino, and they get it... they are required to put the copyright notice up, but they always put it at the *end* of the movie when they can get away with it. When they have to put it at the beginning, they draw glasses and a mustache on the FBI director's photo and play goofy music, at least they're making fun of it.

Computer programmers do it byte by byte.