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Friday, December 04, 2009
BluScenes Releases First Blu-ray Discs Featuring Managed Copy

Despite a delay in the launch of Managed Copy until March 31, 2010 by AACS-LA, independent labels are among the first to offer discs authorizing the feature on the original due date.

Scenic Labs, a New Jersey Limited Liability Company that develops and acquires unique high definition content for Blu-ray and digital distribution, today began shipping the first three in their series of BluScenes 1080p scenery on Blu-ray disc. Each disc offers a choice of 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, as well as visual content acquired in 1080p or better native resolution.

The ambient discs, which include "The Classic Fireplace," "Coral Reef Aquarium," and "Journey Through Space" also unwittingly became the first 3 Blu-ray releases to utilize the Blu-ray Managed Copy feature. Each disc is also labeled as supporting managed copy in accordance with the AACS specification calling for acknowledgment of the feature on the packaging.

The managed copy requirement was initially required to go into effect Dec. 4, as part of the final licensing agreement for AACS, the copy protection used on Blu-ray discs. However, the live date has since been moved to March 31, 2010 by AACS-LA. From March 2010, studios will be required to offer consumers a backup copy of every Blu-ray disc they buy. However, no Blu-ray players in the market yet have the capability to make the backups. This means that PC drives will likely to be the first products to support managed copy.

"We strongly support managed copy because we believe that, in some cases, our products will work even better when played off of a hard drive, a solid-state drive, a portable device, or a home theater hub. The delay in the live date of managed copy by AACS-LA does not impact our customers because there are currently no Blu-ray players that support the feature. We just wanted to be ready when they do. In fact, we had to take a leap of faith that when managed copy players are finally released, the final published spec will not have changed," said Jason Rosenfeld, the founder and managing partner of Scenic Labs, LLC.

A disc ready for managed copy will essentially include a link on it directing the Blu-ray player to an authentication server. Once a users chooses the option to make a copy, the Blu-ray player connects online to an authorization server. Discs are serialized, and the authentication server will determine if a copy is allowed.

Managed copies will be able to be burned to recordable Blu-ray or DVD discs, as a download to a Windows Media DRM-compatible portable player or hard drive, on a memory stick, SD card or as a bound copy, such as a digital copy file on the disc, though AACS-LA can approve other methods going forward.

The BluScenes discs feature a simple user license that marks a first in the video industry. Each disc includes a free public display (non-broadcast) license on a one-screen-per-disc basis; which means that doctors' offices, spas, restaurants and other public places can display the discs without incurring additional royalty fees.

It is the intent of Scenic Labs, LLC to offer managed copy at no charge, although Mr. Rosenfeld says that it is possible that AACS or its agents will charge a transaction fee to use the managed copy feature. "We don't know how managed copy will ultimately be priced, or if there will be transaction fees, but it will be revenue-neutral from our perspective. We do not aim to place undue restrictions on how paying customers can use our content," he said.

BluScenes offered all three of its initial releases with aggressive Black Friday and Cyber Monday pricing, and encountered much stronger-than-expected demand. "The price-drop in some Blu-ray players to below $80, coupled with the recent reduction in AACS fees is good news for the independent Blu-ray industry as a whole and certainly for the consumer transitioning to HD media. On a per-GB basis, Blu-ray is much more cost-effective than DVD, and customers are responding. We sold through several thousand units in our first weekend, and while we offered some stronger-than-usual discounts to get there ? owing largely to the severe economic downturn ? we are feeling very positive about the prospects for Blu-ray in 2010," he said.

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