Media Server business under fire at UltraViolet confab

posted on Thursday, 21st June 2012 by Steve May

CEDIA  Media Server  Events  UltraViolet 

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The media server industry was blasted yesterday at an industry conference on home entertainment technology. The roasting happened at The Future of Entertainment Summit in London, organised by market research outfit Futuresource and trade body Intellect. During a session on UltraViolet, the cloud-based digital movie technology currently being rolled out in the US and UK, Matt Dodd CEDIA Region 1 Vice Chair asked the panel about the implication of UV for the current media server business.

On the panel were representatives from Sony Pictures Entertainment, Warner Bros, BBC Worldwide, Dolby and Rovi. UltraViolet allows consumers to build a digital locker of movies which they can stream to a range of devices, including smartphones and tablets. UV also allows films to be downloaded as a digital file for storage on networked hard drives for playback on larger screens. The latter process is not too dissimilar to the ripping currently required by media server solutions. The panel was asked how robust the UV proposition would actually prove to be. The industry has previously failed to support the AACS Managed Copy mandate which should have legitimised high definition file copies for network storage and playback; the quality of UV media streaming has also been challenged.

A reference to existing media servers operating in a "grey area" met with a furious response from Gerald Hensley, VP for worldwide entertainment at Rovi Corporation. "Grey area? There's nothing grey about it! You simply can't copy a DVD onto a box," he declared.

The prickly exchange, followed a presentation earlier in the day by Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries. The MP had addressed delegates about the issue of IP theft and the ISP blockade of The Pirate Bay.

Kaleidescape joins UV group

While it's early days for UltraViolet, the technology does hold considerable promise for the custom install industry.

Tim Wright, VP for worldwide new media and technology for Sony Pictures, declared that a "scenario of having a library of legal digital copies of Blu-rays and DVDs on a media server is completely contemplated by UltraViolet, and we look forward to retailers enabling that." According to Wright there will be a number of ways for end-users to obtain UV versions of films they already own, either via a Disc-to Digital trade-in such along the lines of that operated by WalMart in the US, or more likely by specific retailers, who will be able to use a consumer's purchase history to retrospectively add digital copies to their UV cloud locker.

Kaleidescape recently joined the UltraViolet group, the first media server company to do so. The brand continues to be embroiled in litigation with Hollywood Studios over its media server solutions. Tom Barnett, director of product marketing told Inside CI: "We joined the UltraViolet group two months ago, so we don't have any products to announce just yet. In terms of device manufacturers it's pretty much just apps from the content providers at the moment - but taking a longer view, UV is a good fit for us because we're all about digital movie collecting."

He adds "The good thing about taking the UV approach is that we don't have to do any type of transcoding and we don't necessarily have to be the streaming provider, we can get help. It's a very flexible framework." Inside CI expects Kaleidescape to announce its UV proposition at the upcoming CEDIA EXPO, in Indianapolis.

Also read:
UltraViolet not yet ready says Hollywood tech strategist

Issue one of the Inside CI iPad magazine is now available for free download from the Apple iBook store

Steve May

Steve is a veteran of the UK consumer electronics industry, having covered it for
various media outlets for more than 20 years.

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