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Taiwan Joining Chinese Royalty-free Video Disk Effort

michael posted more than 12 years ago | from the routing-around-monopolies dept.

The Almighty Buck 314

BeardStreet writes "In an attempt to stop the flow of royalties to the various DVD licensing bodies (e.g. DVD6C, MPEG-LA, etc.), 19 Taiwanese companies have come up with a royalty-free DVD format called EVD which is compatible with a similar effort going on in China, called AVD. Capacity is about 1 GB higher. Their goal is to avoid having to shell out US $15 to $20 per-player royalties. EVD/AVD players will still be able to play traditional DVD disks but will not have the official DVD logo on them, thus avoiding the licensing fees. It's a political issue as well, in that China needs to balance the flow of royalty money going out of their country, especially with DVD players falling rapidly in price."

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First Post (-1)

L0rdkariya (562469) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603053)

No challenge at all.
C.L.I.T.

VITAL HOT DOG STATISTICS (-1)

RecipeTroll (572375) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603061)

Recipe Troll Presents:

Vital Hot Dog Statistics

  • Americans consumed more than 20 billion hot dogs in 2001, 9 billion of which were purchased in retail stores!!
  • Americans consumed 7 billion hot dogs between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
  • Americans will eat 26.3 million hot dogs in major league ballparks -- that's enough to stretch from Dodgers' Stadium in Los Angeles to Pittsburgh Pirate's PNC Stadium!
  • On the Fourth of July, Americans will enjoy 150 million hot dogs!
  • More hot dogs will be eaten at Los Angeles' Dodgers' Stadium - 1.5 million in 2001 - than in any other major league ballpark in the country!


The Council estimates Americans will consume more than 2 billion hot dogs during National Hot Dog Month this July!

Re:VITAL HOT DOG STATISTICS (-1)

L0rdkariya (562469) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603073)

There's a national hot dog month ?

What an age we live in.

Re:VITAL HOT DOG STATISTICS (-1)

Anonymous Cowrad (571322) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603084)

National Hot Dog and Sausage Council [hot-dog.org]

seriously.

Re:VITAL HOT DOG STATISTICS (-1)

News For Turds (580751) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603115)

That's so fucked up.

Re:VITAL HOT DOG STATISTICS (-1)

L0rdkariya (562469) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603130)

What's next, a national GoatSe [goatse.cx] Month ? Now there's a month the editors can get behind. wink, wink !

WTF? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3603137)

You've got to be kidding!

"It's hot dog time!"

More like:

"It's fag time!"

Re:VITAL HOT DOG STATISTICS (-1)

RecipeTroll (572375) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603173)

Apparently, some take the hot dog industry very seriously.

Please modify your sig - it is vulgar (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3603142)

Your sig is an insult to the faith on which our great nation was founded. I find it particularly offensive and vulgar in these times when we, as a nation, are under a deadly attack.

Have some respect!

IGNORE THIS AC, IT'S JON KATZ (-1)

News For Turds (580751) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603185)

Can't ya tell? :)

Re:Please modify your sig - it is vulgar (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3603212)

Haha, go suck your god's dick and ignore the shit you don't like. Homo.

U R TEH GAY!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3603228)

i agree with this post.

Re:VITAL HOT DOG STATISTICS (-1)

News For Turds (580751) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603301)

Howz about a recipe for hot braised chicken? It's chinese. I've been looking all over, but I can't find it.

It's about time. (3, Insightful)

pstreck (558593) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603066)

Let's get some US and European support in on this one and take over the market! But seriously, this is a really good thing we need to support these open standards to avoid the Information Nazi's.

Re:It's about time. (1, Insightful)

lionchild (581331) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603091)

I'll be curious to see if it takes off. It certainly -sounds- like a nice idea. However, just as many fuel saving engines may have been quietly put away in dusty little closets in the back of some big-manufacturer's back room, also may these plays get put away until someone starts asking where they went.

Re:It's about time. (2, Informative)

neocon (580579) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603215)

However, just as many fuel saving engines may have been quietly put away in dusty little closets in the back of some big-manufacturer's back room,

Ooh! Ooh! Urban Legend [snopes2.com] ! Urban Legend!

Re:It's about time. (2, Interesting)

BitHive (578094) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603129)

I don't see any mention in the article of this being an open standard. It's likely that this player will go the way of the Apex player here in the US. The article makes reference to their "AVD" player not sporting the DVD logo, and not being a DVD player in a 'technical' sense. . .well, both of these things are true for DeCSS and look what happened.

Re:It's about time. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3603224)

Look what happened to DeCSS, you say? Legal or not, DeCSS was incorporated into a dozen or so free DVD player projects. Would you like to guess what that file named "libdecss.so" is? OpenBSD even has it in the ports collection.

Re:It's about time. (5, Insightful)

darkonc (47285) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603292)

Apex got in trouble because they signed the non-disclosure agreement that, among other things, prevented them from allowing multi-region players, etc.

If CSS is simply trade-secret, and not patented, then all these newcommers have to do is use DECSS in their players (and possibly include a copy of the source code with every player!!! :-)

eep! (-1)

Anonymous Cowrad (571322) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603067)

suck it, trebek!

I'M JOINING KAZAA ON A ROYALTY-FREE MUSIC EFFORT. (-1)

Subject Line Troll (581198) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603068)

n/m

Slashdot hacked? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3603069)

Is Slashdot hacked? Why was there a strange, animated bright red/bright yellow logo on the front page with hebrew or hindi letters on it? Why clicking on the "Read more" showed only a windows network neighbourhood logo - and no, it was not a IE/Windows glitch. I read Slashdot on Linux using Mozilla RC3.

Re:Slashdot hacked? (-1)

L0rdkariya (562469) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603090)

Dude, this shit happens all the time. Slashdot is so fucked up, you get randomly redirected to a different page. I get pages I've never even been to sometimes. The URL line doesn't change though.

Good for them! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3603071)

Now, if only someone would do that in the US too

Goooo China! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3603074)

Err... wait... no... Communism is bad.

Booooo China!

Well good for them (5, Interesting)

Jucius Maximus (229128) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603077)

When a group of people decide they don't like the legal state of things and decides to come up with their own standard, they are rising above petty legal fights and truly addressing the issues faced by individuals and businessed whose interests are firmly in the hands of patent owners that only care about themselves.

Way to go! - This belongs in the same ranks at the (Ogg) Vorbis Project [vorbis.com] .

Re:Well good for them (5, Insightful)

bricriu (184334) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603191)

Maybe these innovations belongs in the same ranks. Hopefully, the success level will be a considerable amount higher. ;-)

Region free? (4, Interesting)

Triskaidekaphobia (580254) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603079)

If the Chinese and Taiwanese want to bypass the DVD tax then lets hope they don't mind annoying the studios as well and make their players region-free.

Can the studios detect these players and make sure their disks won't play on them? They did that super-new region coding thing a while back didn't they?

Re:Region free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3603123)

Really doesn't matter. As long as there are consumers that don't like what these IP nazis are doing, they'll always look for alternatives or assist in creating them. In this case, if I get such a DVD player and I find out a certain DVD I want doesn't play in there, I'll just get an illegal copy. Fuck the studios. You can only push a consumer so far.

Re:Region free? (2)

mickeyreznor (320351) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603216)

I don't believe they can without making some serious changes to the DVD format(which could cause some major headaches like the ones sorrounding copy-protected cds).

The problem is that the play prevention mechanisms lie with the dvd players and not the dvds themselves. The dvd is encrypted but there's nothing to stop it from being decrypted by, say a region 0 player or decss.

They DID, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3603237)

Look on this site [goldenshop.com.hk] for players that can defeat the new Regional Code Enhancement (RCE) protection. Also, apparently all Shinco DVD players can defeat RCE protection with a few steps.

Re:Region free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3603260)

>If the Chinese and Taiwanese want to bypass the DVD tax then lets hope they don't mind annoying the studios as well and make their players region-free.

Well the competition is very high and a lot of cheapo DVD players from China already came with region-free feature as a selling point. The price in terms of US$ are $90-100, with aftersales services. It is cheap enough for me not to consider buying a japanese player which costs double.

The japanese are still too cautious regarding the regional issue in their players. It is very likely the new AVD will be region-free, but it is likely to be UNDOCUMENTED.

>Can the studios detect these players and make sure their disks won't play on them? They did that super-new region coding thing a while back didn't they?

Not possible to detect as the video disc is passive. Changing the format or encryption, may be. But then it won't be DVD and will breaks all know players.

Re:Region free? (0)

Spazholio (314843) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603278)

There are DVDs out there that will not play on a DVD player that's set to "region-free". You have to set it to the reion of the DVD you're watching. One DVD (Snatch) comes to mind: I had my Raite 715 set to "region free" and when I put the DVD in, it said "We're sorry but this DVD will not play in a region free player." or something to that effect. I just had to set it to region 1, and it had no problems. Lame and easily defeated, yet irritating.

Re:Region free? (2)

morgajel (568462) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603321)

they better watch out, if they try to get around THAT, it might be considered a copyright-protection circumvention device:)

wouldn't it be funny if that hardware was illegal in the US, but legal everywhere else? so much for land of the free...

You can't make this stuff up (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3603081)

[gwbush.com]
George bush is a moron.

Re:You can't make this stuff up (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3603108)

Please mod parent down. Offtopic and flamebait.

Re:You can't make this stuff up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3603176)

Der Spiegel can and does make anything up - like the diaries of Adolf Hitler.

You dumbfuck moronic waste of protoplasm.

Re:You can't make this stuff up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3603199)

Hahahaha! Whatta moron.

Thanks. I'll be mailing that to all my friends and to a couple of die-hard Republicans I know.

Hardly surprising (-1, Flamebait)

Anomolous Cow Herd (457746) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603083)

I'm hardly surprised that the second-largest source of software and movie piracy in the world would want to create a "royalty-free" format. Do their people have the ability to create, or are they just parasites who live off the work of white, American artists?

Re:Hardly surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3603161)

Care to provide a cite for your sig? Or can't you?

Re:Hardly surprising (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3603262)

Ask google, dumbshit. [google.com]

Re:Hardly surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3603217)

That's Jackie-white, American artist- Chan to you.

And Chinese (actully copied from old Scoobie Doo Episodes and digitally recolored) Ghost Story.

Jet (I'm a white boy in make up) Li.

Yuen drop-it-chink-boy Biao.

Sammo Hung is really Samuel Jackson in disguise.

Will they really avoid license fees? (5, Insightful)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603085)

If there are patents on the DVD format and these EVD players can read DVDs, it's hard to imagine how they wouldn't infringe those patents.

OTOH, if the royalties are for a trademark license, they may be able to escape by not using the DVD logo.

Re:Will they really avoid license fees? (1)

Unknown Relic (544714) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603189)

Their plan in this case is most likely to continue to pay the royalties for the time being, while building market share for their new players. Once this market share is established they will be able to drop DVD support, and thus avoid paying the royalties.

Re:Will they really avoid license fees? (2)

Dimensio (311070) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603207)

I thought that the DVD playback method wasn't covered by a patent. I thought that MPEG-2 decoding wasn't covered under any patents and that the MPAA wanted the CSS method to be a trade secret and thus never had it patented (because patents must be disclosed)...that was what the lawsuit in California over DeCSS was all about (the MPAA wanted to have a "trade secret" and then claim infringement when someone reverse-engineered and implemented it, even though that's perfectly legal.

I could be wrong. I usually am.

I LIKE COMMENTING ON +5 POSTS, NOT FILTHY -1 POSTS (-1)

Subject Line Troll (581198) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603282)

n/m/

Put those mather phaquing hands together! (-1)

News For Turds (580751) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603086)

Let's hear it for all da logged in trolls! CLIT! Woohoo!

Ok... Say it with me...

G to da mutha phukken oatse [goatse.cx]
C to da mutha phukken izzzzzzex
HellZ yeah, you know how it is bizznitch

[slashdot.org][slashdot.org]dumbass[slashdot . rg]

Taiwan joins Chinese effort on proprietary DVD for (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3603093)


TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Separate consortia in Taiwan and China are pecking away at a new DVD format that would enable disk and player manufacturers to evade royalty payments to Japanese, American and European companies, which now have a lock on the technology. They hope to introduce the specification by the end of the year.

More than a year ago, China said it was developing a format called Advanced Versatile Disc (AVD) that would be used only in the Greater China region, including Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. Some considered it bluster, a ploy by Chinese manufacturers to strike a better deal on royalty payments to the DVD Forum. But the establishment of a Taiwanese consortium now adds greater substance to the threat.

After several months of exploring the feasibility of AVD, 19 Taiwanese companies quietly came together in April to start work on a next-generation standard that would not use the format specified by the DVD Forum as a baseline technology.

The Taiwan standard is being called Enhanced Versatile Disc (EVD) and is basically compatible with China's AVD. The capacity potential is about 1 Gbyte higher than that of today's single-sided, one- and two-layer DVDs. Current red-laser technology will be implemented.

The consensus here is that with the help of Taiwan, China will attempt to repeat an earlier effort in which it developed Super Video CD (SVCD) as a foil to the Video CD format, allowing manufacturers to duck royalty payments to Philips, JVC, Sony and Matsushita. "Mainland China is hoping for a breakthrough," said Wang Shyh-Yeu,the R&D director at disk maker Ritek Corp., which is part of the newly formed EVD consortium. "We hope we can create some patents through this standard but, to be honest, it is very difficult. The compression part is dominated by U.S. and Japanese companies."

An Acer Labs spokesman said, "It is reasonable to believe the Chinese are looking for a way around the patents," but he declined to say whether Acer is working on EVD. Taiwan's largest supplier of DVD chip sets, MediaTek Inc., could not be reached for comment.

Although China represents a small share of DVD player sales, it is growing in prominence. Global DVD player shipments last year rose to 30 million units from 19 million in 2000, according to Cahners In-Stat Group. About 3.5 million were sold in China, where Video CD players are still mainstream. The projection for 2002 DVD player shipments is 50 million units, with about 8 million going to China.

Regional-format developers hope to avoid $15-$20 in DVD-player royalty fees.

Increasing pressure to pay royalties, combined with falling DVD player prices, has intensified efforts to develop China's own standard.

The DVD6C licensing group, composed of Hitachi, Matsushita, Mitsubishi, Toshiba, JVC and AOL Time Warner, earlier this month laid out a plan to woo domestic Chinese manufacturers to the group's royalty scheme of up to $4 per unit. The 6C group offered royalty-free sales through Dec. 31 of this year to units built for the domestic Chinese market. The waiver is available only to manufacturers that sign a license before June 30. There is still no word on whether Chinese manufacturers will buy into the plan.

Get in line

Separately, the so-called 3C group -- consisting of Philips, Sony and Pioneer -- is also demanding that Chinese manufacturers begin paying royalties on DVD players. Any party that makes, uses, imports or sells products covered by the licensed patents is expected to contact both the 6C and 3C groups and pay them separate fees. Furthermore, because the DVD format uses the MPEG-2 video standard, another separate royalty must be paid to MPEG LA, the MPEG licensing authority.

All the assorted payments add up to $15 to $20 per unit, said Michelle Abraham, senior analyst at Cahners In-Stat. Besides MPEG, 6C and 3C, they include payments for Dolby sound and to owners of various copy protection systems. Most Chinese manufacturers have refused to pay, just as they refused to pay Video CD royalties.

Emerging splinter formats such as EVD or AVD are keeping consumer electronics and silicon vendors on their toes. A Philips spokeswoman said, "We do not know how EVD is going to be different from DVD. We have been informed only recently about these developments."

Though details are still sketchy, many industry sources suggested that the new format will offer the Chinese domestic market high-resolution video -- some say high definition (HD), others say full D1 video using red-laser technology -- in time for the 2008 Olympics in China.

"For a long time now the Chinese government in Beijing has wanted to create [China's own] IP [intellectual property] to balance the flow of DVD royalties," said Didier LeGall, vice president of home media products at LSI Logic Corp. (Milpitas, Calif.). "They have been working on adding HD on a red laser. I think it is appealing because HD is the future, and the Chinese government is very keen to use consumer HD to showcase the 2008 Olympics."

But LeGall cautioned, "The key to any new format and its credibility is the content, and this is the biggest unknown on any HD-DVD format." He added, "You can expect Hollywood to be particularly concerned with the potential HD piracy."

Content, compatibility concerns

Another question is exportability. "The biggest problem with [a new China format] is, can Chinese OEMs export this proprietary player?" said In-Stat's Abraham. "Yes, China is a big market, but the United States and Europe still remain by far the two largest DVD markets."

Several industry sources confirmed that emerging EVD or AVD players will be capable of playing back both EVD/AVD disks and DVD disks. Given that DVD is already a huge success on the global market, an attempt to develop a new-format player that does not play DVD disks is suicidal, they said.

The next question is whether DVD-format license holders can go after Chinese OEMs for royalties on products labeled as EVD or AVD players. The question here is whether a proprietary product that plays both EVD/ AVD and DVD disks can be considered, technically, not a DVD player. The distinction is crucial to many that hold essential DVD-format patents.

Clearly, any player that plays back a DVD disk is infringing on the DVD patent portfolio, observers said. "It's either you do or you don't," said one industry executive. But other industry sources in Japan acknowledged that if players bear no official DVD logo, it would be difficult for the 6C or 3C groups to go after them.

Both of those groups are prepared to stop imports of unlicensed DVD players and to bring lawsuits against companies that ship them.

"In February, the EU [European Union] held shipments of 10,000 players due to royalty nonpayment at the urging of the 3C group," In-Stat's Abraham said. She also pointed out that Sony Corp. won a suit in the United States against Apex, and that Apex is now paying 3C royalties as a result.

Chip companies are split in their assessment of how significant an EVD or AVD format might become. A spokeswoman at Zoran Corp. said, "A majority of our customers [in China] are interested in exporting their players to the U.S. and European markets. They want to build players that abide by the standard." LSI Logic, armed with an HD-capable multiformat media processor called Domino, has "communicated with many people in China," LeGall said. "We are not against this format [but] we are perplexed" about where its proponents could obtain compelling HD-DVD content.

Interestingly, Taiwan's largest research group is leading the EVD effort, at the request of Chinese counterparts to help advance the spec. The quasigovernmental Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) helped bring together the consortium here, despite its role as Taiwan's representative to the DVD Forum.

Slightly different

Derray Huang, deputy general director of ITRI's Optical Electronics and Systems Lab, said the logic format of EVD will differ slightly from DVD's, but he declined to offer specifics. "Some technology is in the DVD range, but some is different," Huang said, adding that a year-end introduction is possible. "It depends on the key components, like chip sets." All DVD player components will be the same, he said, with the exception of an upgrade for the chip set that would allow both DVDs and EVDs to play on the same machine.

Huang acknowledged that the DVD Forum would not be happy with ITRI's decision to pursue a separate format, but he maintained that the move is no different from what several key forum members have also done. Earlier this year, nine companies -- including Matsushita, Philips, Samsung, Sharp and Sony -- said they would develop a successor to DVD technology, the Blu-ray Disc, a denser, blue-violet-laser-based medium that is not compatible with current DVD technology. The companies said they would conduct the work outside of the DVD Forum.

"We hope there can be one single format," Huang said, "and maybe someday we can talk with the forum about EVD." In the meantime, ITRI is also developing Blu-ray products, such as disks and pickup heads.

Not everyone in China and Taiwan is backing EVD or AVD, however. Bo Wu, founder and chief executive officer of EnReach, which helped China develop its SVCD specification in 1997, said, "EVD is more like a full D1 MPEG-2 version of SVCD." He said his company is not involved in the effort, "nor are most of the major DVD OEMs in China as far as I know."

With DVD player prices on track to drop to about $70 by year's end, Wu said, "To us, it is too late [to foist a new format on] the market. . . . All players will have to play DVD disks, because there are so many titles out there now, inside China."

Balance the royalty flow? (2)

GMontag (42283) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603096)

It's a political issue as well, in that China needs to balance the flow of royalty money going out of their country...

You mean *true* piracy (vs. the MPAA accusations against coders) does not curb the flow of royalties enough already? Wow, these Commies are pretty crafty!

Only in China (4, Insightful)

CaptainSuperBoy (17170) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603097)

China said it was developing a format called Advanced Versatile Disc (AVD) that would be used only in the Greater China region

This format would only be used in China. Makes sense, since there's no way they could sell these players in the US or Europe because it would infringe patents. Even if it doesn't display the logo it still decodes CSS, MPEG, AC3, all of which are patented.

They'll still get exported, from stores like Lik Sang.. but who knows, customs will probably seize them at the border.

Patent # for CSS please? (2)

Rupert (28001) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603126)

After all, if it was patented, there wouldn't be any need to reverse engineer it, since the spec would be public. And it also wouldn't be covered by trade secret legislation in California.

Re:Patent # for CSS please? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3603332)

CSS might not be patented (security through obscurity), but there's other patents on the DVD spec. see here [dvd6cla.com]

Re:Only in China (1)

Triskaidekaphobia (580254) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603234)

AVD, the Chinese one, is only in China. Who knows where the Taiwanese one, TVD, will be sold.

Re:Only in China (1)

mocm (141920) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603236)

CSS is certainly not patented and many of the others are software patents which only exist in the US.
The license is not for the patents, but for CSS and the DVD Specs, i.e. the informatin the .ifo file contains.

Re:Only in China (1)

Liquor (189040) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603257)

No, it shouldn't be stopped at the border for patent infringement. CSS was never patented (it's a no-longer-secret trade secret), and I believe MPEG playback can be accomplished without breaking any patents (DVDs don't use MPEG-4).

But I have no doubt that it WOULD be stopped as an 'illegal circumvention device' for DMCA purposes.

Text (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3603099)

In case the site gets /.'d:

Taiwan joins Chinese effort on proprietary DVD format

By Mike Clendenin and Junko Yoshida
EE Times
May 24, 2002 (4:49 p.m. EST)

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Separate consortia in Taiwan and China are pecking away at a new DVD format that would enable disk and player manufacturers to
evade royalty payments to Japanese, American and European companies, which now have a lock on the technology. They hope to introduce the specification by the end of the year.

More than a year ago, China said it was developing a format called Advanced Versatile Disc (AVD) that would be used only in the Greater China region, including Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. Some considered it bluster, a ploy by Chinese manufacturers to strike a better deal on royalty payments to the DVD Forum. But the establishment of a Taiwanese consortium now adds greater substance to the threat.

After several months of exploring the feasibility of AVD, 19 Taiwanese companies quietly came together in April to start work on a next-generation standard that would not use the format specified by the DVD Forum as a baseline technology.

The Taiwan standard is being called Enhanced Versatile Disc (EVD) and is basically compatible with China's AVD. The capacity potential is about 1 Gbyte higher than that of today's single-sided, one- and two-layer DVDs. Current red-laser technology will be implemented.

The consensus here is that with the help of Taiwan, China will attempt to repeat an earlier effort in which it developed Super Video CD (SVCD) as a foil to the Video CD format, allowing manufacturers to duck royalty payments to Philips, JVC, Sony and Matsushita. "Mainland China is hoping for a breakthrough," said Wang Shyh-Yeu,the R&D director at disk maker Ritek Corp., which is part of the newly formed EVD consortium. "We hope we can create some patents through this standard but, to be honest, it is very difficult. The compression part is dominated by U.S. and Japanese companies."

An Acer Labs spokesman said, "It is reasonable to believe the Chinese are looking for a way around the patents," but he declined to say whether Acer is working on EVD. Taiwan's largest supplier of DVD chip sets, MediaTek Inc., could not be reached for comment.

Although China represents a small share of DVD player sales, it is growing in prominence. Global DVD player shipments last year rose to 30 million units from 19 million in 2000, according to Cahners In-Stat Group. About 3.5 million were sold in China, where Video CD players are still mainstream. The projection for 2002 DVD player shipments is 50 million units, with about 8 million going to China.

Increasing pressure to pay royalties, combined with falling DVD player prices, has intensified efforts to develop China's own standard.

The DVD6C licensing group, composed of Hitachi, Matsushita, Mitsubishi, Toshiba, JVC and AOL Time Warner, earlier this month laid out a plan to woo domestic Chinese manufacturers to the group's royalty scheme of up to $4 per unit. The 6C group offered royalty-free sales through Dec. 31 of this year to units built for the domestic Chinese market. The waiver is available only to manufacturers that sign a license before June 30. There is still no word on whether Chinese manufacturers will buy into the plan.

Get in line

Separately, the so-called 3C group -- consisting of Philips, Sony and Pioneer -- is also demanding that Chinese manufacturers begin paying royalties on DVD players. Any party that makes, uses, imports or sells products covered by the licensed patents is expected to contact both the 6C and 3C groups and pay them separate fees. Furthermore, because the DVD format uses the MPEG-2 video standard, another separate royalty must be paid to MPEG LA, the MPEG licensing authority.

All the assorted payments add up to $15 to $20 per unit, said Michelle Abraham, senior analyst at Cahners In-Stat. Besides MPEG, 6C and 3C, they include payments for Dolby sound and to owners of various copy protection systems. Most Chinese manufacturers have refused to pay, just as they refused to pay Video CD royalties.

Emerging splinter formats such as EVD or AVD are keeping consumer electronics and silicon vendors on their toes. A Philips spokeswoman said, "We do not know how EVD is going to be different from DVD. We have been informed only recently about these developments."

Though details are still sketchy, many industry sources suggested that the new format will offer the Chinese domestic market high-resolution video -- some say high definition (HD), others say full D1 video using red-laser technology -- in time for the 2008 Olympics in China.

"For a long time now the Chinese government in Beijing has wanted to create [China's own] IP [intellectual property] to balance the flow of DVD royalties," said Didier LeGall, vice president of home media products at LSI Logic Corp. (Milpitas, Calif.). "They have been working on adding HD on a red laser. I think it is appealing because HD is the future, and the Chinese government is very keen to use consumer HD to showcase the 2008 Olympics."

But LeGall cautioned, "The key to any new format and its credibility is the content, and this is the biggest unknown on any HD-DVD format." He
added, "You can expect Hollywood to be particularly concerned with the potential HD piracy."

Content, compatibility concerns

Another question is exportability. "The biggest problem with [a new China format] is, can Chinese OEMs export this proprietary player?" said In-Stat's Abraham. "Yes, China is a big market, but the United States and Europe still remain by far the two largest DVD markets."

Several industry sources confirmed that emerging EVD or AVD players will be capable of playing back both EVD/AVD disks and DVD disks. Given that DVD is already a huge success on the global market, an attempt to develop a new-format player that does not play DVD disks is suicidal, they said.

The next question is whether DVD-format license holders can go after Chinese OEMs for royalties on products labeled as EVD or AVD players. The question here is whether a proprietary product that plays both EVD/ AVD and DVD disks can be considered, technically, not a DVD player. The distinction is crucial to many that hold essential DVD-format patents.

Clearly, any player that plays back a DVD disk is infringing on the DVD patent portfolio, observers said. "It's either you do or you don't," said one industry executive. But other industry sources in Japan acknowledged that if players bear no official DVD logo, it would be difficult for the 6C or 3C groups to go after them.

Both of those groups are prepared to stop imports of unlicensed DVD players and to bring lawsuits against companies that ship them.

"In February, the EU [European Union] held shipments of 10,000 players due to royalty nonpayment at the urging of the 3C group," In-Stat's Abraham said. She also pointed out that Sony Corp. won a suit in the United States against Apex, and that Apex is now paying 3C royalties as a result.

Chip companies are split in their assessment of how significant an EVD or AVD format might become. A spokeswoman at Zoran Corp. said, "A majority of our customers [in China] are interested in exporting their players to the U.S. and European markets. They want to build players that abide by the standard." LSI Logic, armed with an HD-capable multiformat media processor called Domino, has "communicated with many people in China," LeGall said. "We are not against this format [but] we are perplexed" about where its proponents could obtain compelling HD-DVD content.

Interestingly, Taiwan's largest research group is leading the EVD effort, at the request of Chinese counterparts to help advance the spec. The quasigovernmental Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) helped bring together the consortium here, despite its role as Taiwan's representative to the DVD Forum.

Slightly different

Derray Huang, deputy general director of ITRI's Optical Electronics and Systems Lab, said the logic format of EVD will differ slightly from DVD's, but he declined to offer specifics. "Some technology is in the DVD range, but some is different," Huang said, adding that a year-end introduction is possible. "It depends on the key components, like chip sets." All DVD player components will be the same, he said, with the exception of an upgrade for the chip set that would allow both DVDs and EVDs to play on the same machine.

Huang acknowledged that the DVD Forum would not be happy with ITRI's decision to pursue a separate format, but he maintained that the move is no different from what several key forum members have also done. Earlier this year, nine companies -- including Matsushita, Philips, Samsung, Sharp and Sony -- said they would develop a successor to DVD technology, the Blu-ray Disc, a denser, blue-violet-laser-based medium that is not compatible with current DVD technology. The companies said they would conduct the work outside of the DVD Forum.

"We hope there can be one single format," Huang said, "and maybe someday we can talk with the forum about EVD." In the meantime, ITRI is also developing Blu-ray products, such as disks and pickup heads.

Not everyone in China and Taiwan is backing EVD or AVD, however. Bo Wu, founder and chief executive officer of EnReach, which helped China develop its SVCD specification in 1997, said, "EVD is more like a full D1 MPEG-2 version of SVCD." He said his company is not involved in the effort, "nor are most of the major DVD OEMs in China as far as I know."

With DVD player prices on track to drop to about $70 by year's end, Wu said, "To us, it is too late [to foist a new format on] the market. . . . All players will have to play DVD disks, because there are so many titles out there now, inside China."

Can't play standard DVD media (4, Informative)

crow (16139) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603102)

Despite what the article says, these players will either owe royalties, or they won't be able to play the standard DVD media.

The royalties aren't for the use of the DVD trademark (well, the bulk of them, anyway). They're for the use of patents.

Now if they're really clever, they might be able to implement alternative techniques that, while producing the same results, don't use the means that the patents cover. Considering the number of DVD patents involved, this seems unlikely. (Sure, you could avoid the Macrovision and region-coding patents easily enough--don't include those "features.")

Re:Can't play standard DVD media (1)

Unknown Relic (544714) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603165)

I would imagine that their plan is looking more at the long term rather than an immediate stop of royalty payments. The only way they can get any market share for their player is if it also plays standard DVDs, and so they'll have to bite the bullet for now and accept that. As these players begin to emerge in the market they will most likely attempt to get distributers to release products on the new media. Only once this has happened will they be able to cut DVD support, and thus the royalties. Also, if they could implement alternative techniques to avoid licencing as you suggest there would be no reason at all for this new format!

Not so fast... (2)

GMontag (42283) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603172)

Despite what the article says, these players will either owe royalties, or they won't be able to play the standard DVD media.

Yea, they can owe all you and I wish for them to, but payments would not exactly fit into their "royalty avoidance" scheme.

This sounds bad (3, Interesting)

forgoil (104808) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603104)

Pirated cheaper EVD/AVDs being sold around the world, making the movie industry see even more red than before.

If I were the guys who own DVD (Phillips and friends), I would demand that the fee is paid in the store, when someone buys the player.

This doesn't sound like a step towards a better movie format for everyone, this sounds like VHS/Betamax all over again.

I could be wrong though;) We'll just have to see what happens.

Re:This sounds bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3603325)

>Pirated cheaper EVD/AVDs being sold around the world, making the movie industry see even more red than before.

How does a AVD "player" relate to piracy? DVD is still the same format.

Unfortunate... (1)

grokBoy (582119) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603106)

Well, a great idea from the Chinese and Taiwanese inventors. Maybe they should email someone and tell them about it. Oh wait, they can't, because we've all blocked them for spamming us...

19 Companies! (1)

havaloc (50551) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603110)

With the support of 19 companies, this will get very interesting very fast. The only reason I own a DVD player is that I was able to get one of those APEX deals that are free of regions and macrovision and those other insane measures that take away from the consumer's ability to enjoy what they purchase.

This hill hurt (4, Insightful)

smnolde (209197) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603114)

... the DVDCCA. And I hope it does.

If EVD is open and unlicensed then it will do one of two things, if not both: A) Expose the region coding for distribution control, or B) isolate the US (and possibly Canada) from getting any of these devices by legislating them illegal.

While we USians may not like the isolation, those who have the gold make the rules. This kind of open format will only help to spread the distribution of films made in other parts of the world, eventually hurting the DVDCCA and MPAA.

There's nothing like having inferior entertainment channels forced upon us by law and greed when we could all share and share alike the distribution method (like PAL and GSM).

sing it with me (1)

paradesign (561561) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603119)

cue NWA "fuck the police"(preferably in stolen mp3 format) and sing it with me now!

fuck the DVD6C, MPEG-LA, etc, fuck the DVD6C, MPEG-LA, etc, fuckem.

Negating their life's work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3603120)

You'd think people who devote their lives to developing digital media technologies (DVD, HDTV, etc.) would care enough not to let greed and politics get in the way of the standards necessary to making these technologies truly useful.

The only problem (1)

asavage (548758) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603121)

is it won't play in all the current DVD players and will take a while before DVD players will be able to play them. How useful will this be if almost no DVD players can play them? Microsoft will have the same problem as they are trying to get DVD players to use windows media video format.

whoohoo!!! (1)

chef_raekwon (411401) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603122)

its about time!
lets get it here in NA...then we'll watch those mpaa bastards squirm.....

Yet another ripoff from the Chinese... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3603134)

n/t [slashdot.org]

Hope this works (2)

quantaman (517394) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603147)

My only concern would be that MPAA & Fiends would try to block this. I don't think the DMCA can touch this but would the CBTBA (something like that) if it ever gets passed do something to this? If they arn't able to make up a legal obstacle my guess is they will just put something readable only in the new format on their DVDs that will crash the new players (though could they still cal them DVDs then?). Anyone else have any ideas on what the MPAA might try to pull to kill this technology, I'm sure they're not just going to take it lying down.

YeAH Yeah Yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3603149)

Lets get kernel support for these things damn quick!!!

Taiwan isn't wide enough! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3603152)

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Excellent - a trade war is just what we need... (5, Funny)

vkg (158234) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603160)

Bunch of different, theoretically compatible standards - international patent law called into play, with those Damned Communists [google.com] trying to avoid paying their patent fees....

You know, if they keep this shit up, they might just distract the MPAA from the Internet long enough for me to finish building my archive :-)

Good.. (-1)

xdfgf (460453) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603162)

So far the other open standard produced by China has been pretty good SVCD [uwasa.fi] I've used it for music videos and DVD rips. The quality is pretty good considering the low bit rate, but the lower resolution helps there. The only thing that sucks about it is the DVD players that support will only support 2/3 of the standard. It'll have the video and 2 audio tracks, but no subtitles or vice versa.

There was a second format called CVD [google.com] for china video disc didn't take off outside of China and still isn't that big there AFIAK.

Will this be legal? (2)

shaldannon (752) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603179)

I like the sounds of this, but I wonder about the legality of selling these players in the US. If the player is capable of playing DVDs, then the technology inside will necessarily involve either unlicensed or reverse-engineered decoding software. The former would be piracy/IP theft, and the latter (legitimate IMHO) would run afoul of the DMCA.

not replacement (3, Interesting)

wmacgyver (555987) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603186)

I don't think this will replace DVD format, however I hope this become the replacement for VCD format. VCD has always been nice in that, a lot of DVD players support it, plus you can make VCD yourself. No region lock out. If in the future, most DVD players also support this much like they support VCD playback, this will allow consumers to be able to make their own media that plays back in standard DVD players

Too many formats? (2, Insightful)

Tidan (541596) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603205)

Is it just me, or is the industry generating too many different media formats in too short a time? I know from a profit standpoint, corporations stand to benefit from releasing newer technologies forcing customers to replace their old technology with newer. And this is to be expected - to a certain degree. It seems, at least to me, that recently the rate at which new media standards are being produced is far higher than it was a few years ago. Not too far back, VHS reigned supreme, and it has been virtually the> standard format for decades. Now DVD technology is in the process of phasing out VHS, but it seems we are bombarded with new and improved formats (like this new extra 1-Gig capacity) that won't benefit the customers to a great extent. It doesn't seem that these new EVD's are going to replace DVD's because it is not a substantial breakthrough in technology. Big deal.. an extra 30 min. of "behind the scenes" on your typical DVD movie. Is it worth introducting new media formats to simply avoid licencing fees?

What a difference geography makes (5, Insightful)

GuyMannDude (574364) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603210)

Several industry sources confirmed that emerging EVD or AVD players will be capable of playing back both EVD/AVD disks and DVD disks.

But other industry sources in Japan acknowledged that if players bear no official DVD logo, it would be difficult for the 6C or 3C groups to go after them.

It's sad that some companies in Asia are going to get away with making their own DVD players for the sole purpose of cheating the DVD patent holders while some poor European kid who writes DeCSS so that he can play his legally purchased DVDs on Linux gets crucified to the fullest extent of the law.

GMD

Re:What a difference geography makes (3, Interesting)

sporty (27564) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603264)

19 companies combined can afford many lawyers. A teenager prolly can't. Doesn't excuse any actions, but that is the case.

Re:What a difference money makes (5, Insightful)

Telastyn (206146) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603276)

It's sad that some rich companies in Asia are going to get away with making their own DVD players for the sole purpose of cheating the DVD patent holders while some poor European kid who writes DeCSS so that he can play his legally purchased DVDs on Linux gets crucified to the fullest extent of the law.


Emphasis mine.

Re:What a difference geography makes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3603304)

What's even more of a shame is that socialist countries are more lax than our "free" republic.

not so good? (2, Interesting)

tps12 (105590) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603211)

Okay, now I am as much a supporter of "free as in freedom" as any other good slashbot. But while reading this story more carefully, and discussing it with some of the "regulars", I believe I have reconsidered.

All of the innovation that we have seen, from the triumph of the Wright brothers, to the soaring skyscrapers that make this country beautiful, has been due to the drive of a few precious individuals. Their motivation? Money.

Take away the royalties that protect them and urge them to develop new things, and we're back in the Dark Ages. Like it or not, intellectual property rights is the hot-button issue that sculpts the political landscape.

Where would we be without it?

Re:not so good? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3603270)

How many times has that myth proven wrong? I can't find an online version of "manufacturing consent", but a lot of the points chomsky makes against mass media can be applied to this particular case. Here's a link to some chomsky stuff [zmag.org]

Public specification (2)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603213)

First, if EVD/AVD does take off, then we might see pressure on the 6C and 3C to reduce their fees, though knowing how corporate America does business these days then we are more likely to a whole bunch of law suits.

If EVD/AVD are really to make a difference, than simply being a 'home grown' technology and licensing body for these companies, then we need to see the specification made public for no fee, without any license fee requirements. This would help reduce the cost of the media and mean that anyone anywhere would be capable of making a player, without needing prior permission. One other thing that needs to be done is ensure that at this stage EVD/AVD already covers a specification for rewritable discs, otherwise we are likely to run into the same mess as DVDs did.

Oh, the irony (2)

steveha (103154) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603218)

From the article:
"The biggest problem with [a new China format] is, can Chinese OEMs export this proprietary player?" said In-Stat's Abraham.

The whole point of the new standard is to make an open standard that doesn't charge royalties, and he is calling it a proprietary standard?

steveha

Even so... (3, Interesting)

foo fighter (151863) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603233)

We'll never see these players in the US.

The MPAA will see to it that customs holds these at the border, and the parties hoping to receive the shipment will be tossed in the slammer.

Basically, these will be considered controlled substances like drugs and whoever's trying to get ahold of one will be treated as a narcotics dealer/user.

Maybe not. (5, Interesting)

bstadil (7110) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603330)

The MPAA will see to it that customs holds these at the border

If they try to do this the logical counter move is to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization [wto.org] stating the case that the Regional Settings is a deliberate and unlawful inpediment to free trade. The risk of this being declared illegal combined with suits for Punitive damages subsequently filed in the US courts is high.
MPAA will give in long before that as the down side grossly outweighs the alternative.


NB: Write your representative in the country you are in and complain about Regional Settings. Its amazing it has survived so long.

Narrow Reading of Patents Rejected (2)

bihoy (100694) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603241)

I wonder if this is the type of thing that could be impacted by the recent overturning [yahoo.com] of a ruling by the special federal appeals court. Apparently the U.S. Supreme Court felt that the ruling went too far by allowing competitors to make minor changes and then applying for new patents. At a minimum it could open the door for existing patent holders to delay things by filing lawsuits against the new technology on the grounds that it is similar and not sufficiently different.

DVD is an illegal trust (2, Interesting)

bigpat (158134) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603248)

"Both of those groups are prepared to stop imports of unlicensed DVD players and to bring lawsuits against companies that ship them."

Anything that plays the DVD format will still be considered as infringing on the DVD patents.

Once again, we here in the freedom loving west will be protected from having to decide if we want cheaper and better technology. After all it is much better when a group of companies work together and decide to impose a standard on the world and then charge us extra for the privilege.

Why don't people go after these companies for Anti-trust violations? When standards are used by an exclusive group of companies to impose market control at the expense of consumers, it is illegal under US law. Companies are supposed to compete with eachother, otherwise it isn't a free market.

Re:DVD is an illegal trust (2)

Tazzy531 (456079) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603311)

but you also have to consider the patents/royalty system. Without such patent and royalties, companies would no longer have any incentive to research and develop. Why should they plop down $xx million if they can just "steal" or "use" the technology that another company researches for free.

This cuts out the middleman for piracy profit (1)

Kashif Shaikh (575991) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603255)

Not trying to be a troll, but I believe such DVD disks if proved to be popular, would lend themselves nicely to a black market of DVD movies in China.

DVD media companies would have to pay no royalties, which in turn increases their profits by selling these DVDs to the black market.

No offence, but this is China, it has a thriving black market. One of the reasons why you don't see Console manufacturers selling their consoles and games in this country.

not all movies (4, Funny)

tps12 (105590) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603259)

The following movies will not be released for EVD or AVD:

Elizabeth

The Last Emperor

The Madness of King George

Get it? Royalty-free? Get it?

Taiwan IS China (1)

benh57 (525452) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603266)

Whatever happened to the US's "one china" policy? This article would surely piss off the govt of china, who claim that Taiwan is part of China.
I believe the official US line is still "one china".

Taiwan and China? (1)

intermodal (534361) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603275)

Now there's a pair i didn't expect to see playing together...

Ummm... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3603288)

I don't know what to say [31337.pl]

What about CSS? (3, Interesting)

sterno (16320) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603291)

Okay well that's all well and good, but are they going to be able to support CSS decryption? Seems to me that their ability to play DVD's is almost useless if they can't decrypt CSS, seeing as most discs require it. So they still end up having to pay royalties and having to enforce region encoding.

What was that SciFi book? (2)

swb (14022) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603293)

There was a scifi book and part of the backstory was that the Chinese had crushed the US economy by basically pirating EVERYTHING and making it available on some global satellite net.

Maybe this is the beginning?

I love it (3, Funny)

unicron (20286) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603309)

And the fact that all DVD players sold in China come bundled with Episode 2 just goes to show you the level of dedication the Chinese market brings to the consumer. They go that extra mile you just don't see in larger American stores like BestBuy.

what about EVD-RW? (2)

Splork (13498) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603328)

we already have dvd-r, dvd-ram, dvd-rw, dvd+rw... why not add a lower cost higher storage capacity alternative?

excuse me (2, Interesting)

Jacer (574383) | more than 12 years ago | (#3603329)

i'm against intelectuall property, but legally can they do this? if it plays dvd's, it supports the format, how can they get around not paying the royalties? sounds like the communist state is just flexing their muscles, not that there's anything wrong with communism, just the leaders!
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