UPDATE x2: Avatar Blu-ray DRM bites legitimate customers

Summary:Once again, we get a beautiful example of how DRM hurts and harms paying customers while having no impact on pirates.

Once again, we get a beautiful example of how DRM hurts and harms paying customers while having no impact on pirates.

This story relates to the newly released "Avatar" Blu-ray and how some consumers are unable to watch the movie - a movie they've bought and paid for - because of the DRM built into the disc to prevent pirates copying the disc.

TheWrap has details:

The culprit, an individual at Fox told TheWrap, is not the discs, but that certain Blu-ray players need to be upgraded with new firmware.

...

As for "Avatar," Fox maintains that the problem is largely limited to Samsung players, but a few LG players also require the enhancement.

Customers are, understandably, angry:

One customer wrote: " ... When 3 out of 3 players in my house (Denon, Samsung and PC) won't play it, then 20th Century Fox should be slapped with losses on this one for doing this crap."

Yet another wrote: "I bought the latest Samsung Blu-Ray player 5 days ago and updated all the firmware before installing it. It will not play Avatar! I bought the new player specifically because Avatar was coming out." 

Really, this isn't good enough. I can understand (vaguely) the need to protect the content from being copied, but pirated copies of Avatar have been available since January. DRM solves no problem.

Those choosing not to line James Cameron's coffers can enjoy the movie with no such DRM-related interruptions. People who pay for the movie run the risk of ending up with a coffee cup coaster.

If you have an ethernet-enabled Blu-ray player then a firmware update is quite easy. If not, things get more complex.

DRM sucks!

[UPDATE x2: Having spoken to folks in the know (which wish to remain nameless) if seems the reason for players needing updates is that Avatar sees two new forms of protection updates.  AACS MKB has been updated to v17 and BD+ to v5.]

[UPDATE: This is from a Fox Entertainment representative:

Most, if not all, new technologies are going to require firmware updates to ensure that the equipment works to the best of its ability. The number of consumers having issues were minimal and consumer electronic hardware companies have been offering support to their customers via the forums on the internet, as well as their customer service hotline - and mentioned that the issues have been minimal and while firmware updates were needed for a few models, that issues have been resolved, as has been reflected in the comments on Amazon and the forums - with customers actually replying that after the firmware update, everything is working fine. If it appears to have gotten more attention in the forums, it is only because of the larger volume that this title has sold and the actual numbers are minuscule

I've asked for clarification as to why the firmware update is required if it is not related to DRM and will update this post when I receive a response.]

Topics: Security, Hardware, Mobility, Software

About

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

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