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Media Open Source Technology

X264 Project Announces Blu-ray Encoding Support 139

Posted by timothy
from the news-from-mid-spectrum dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The x264 project has announced the first free software encoder to be able to generate Blu-ray compliant video. In addition, the announcement comes with a torrent of an x264-encoded Blu-ray disc containing entirely free content, such as the Open Movie Project videos. While there are still no free software Blu-ray authoring tools, hopefully this will change now that video and audio are taken care of so that everyone will be able to make their own Blu-rays without expensive proprietary software. Additionally, it seems the Criterion Collection is a friend of free software, having sponsored the effort to confirm x264's compliance with the Blu-ray spec."
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X264 Project Announces Blu-ray Encoding Support

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  • by Daimanta (1140543) on Sunday April 25, 2010 @03:39PM (#31977218) Journal

    Isn't x264 (heavily) patent encumbered? And does that mean that the makers(or distributers?) have to pay a licensing fee? I know that it makes me weary to roll this out in a setting other than my home computing enviroment.

    Anyone to easy my mind/confirm my suspicions?

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Yes. But if you're working in a commercial environment you're probably going to buy something anyway. Nothing of commercial quality (in terms of authoring software - x.264 does fine encoding) will be free anytime soon (as in..this decade).
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 25, 2010 @03:43PM (#31977242)

      The patent licensing fees for H.264 (20 cents per encoder) are the least of your problems if you're commercially publishing a Blu-ray disc. The license fees for *everything else*, up to and including the Blu-ray name itself, are much more onerous. But anyone making Blu-rays for commercial purposes already deals with this.

    • It's exactly the same as with any other encoder that you use for Blu-ray authoring.
    • And does that mean that the makers(or distributers?) have to pay a licensing fee?

      Nope, it means that you can only distribute it at all in countries where the relevant patents are not valid. The x264 encoder is GPL'd, and according to clause 7 you may not distribute it if it is covered by any patents that would prevent the people that you give it to from exercising their rights according to the GPL.

      • The GPL covers the software x264, not the output produced by x264. Nevermind the fact that said logic is extremely dubious (the Software Freedom Law Center, as does basically everyone except the FSF, disagrees with that interpretation).
        • by allo (1728082)
          but the software producing x264 is patented, and the software decoding it, not the output.
      • by u17 (1730558)
        I don't believe this is the case. Doesn't the GPL say that so long as *you* own patents covering GPL software, and if you are *also* distributing said software, then you must not assert these patents against anyone you distribute it to, otherwise you lose the license? By your logic you wouldn't be able to distribute any GPL software in the US, because any program is very likely covered by at least one software patent that's not owned by you.
        • It would have taken you less time to read the relevant clause (I even told you which one it was in the post that you replied to) than it took you to post your incorrect opinion. Since you're too lazy to look it up, there's the clause:

          If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues), conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not distribute the Program at all. For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Program.

          Emphasis mine.

          • by u17 (1730558)
            It certainly looks from the excerpt that you are right. I stand corrected.

            But I would like to add that it is up to the copyright owners to decide whether to pursue an infringement. So unless the x264 authors have a problem with others distributing their software when it is otherwise forbidden by patent law, this shouldn't be a problem in practice.

            Of course, since the redistributors are forbidden to do so by patent law, they are additionally liable to the patent holders, who don't necessarily have goo
    • by squiggleslash (241428) on Sunday April 25, 2010 @04:27PM (#31977680) Homepage Journal

      Forget about the patents. In order to publish any Blu-ray content, you have to encrypt it, which means buying a key from the AACS. Blu-ray players are not allowed to read unencrypted pressed BD discs (some will play unencrypted BD-Rs with a BD layout, though as I understand it that's increasingly rare.)

      This project is about as useful to the free software movement as a "free software" iPhone development kit.

      • by NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) on Sunday April 25, 2010 @05:01PM (#31977950)
        Yes, that is what I read when researching blu-ray verses HD-DVD, and I thought it would be its downfall. Sony has managed to create its own market and tied every loose end to a patent or license agreement. It was an amazing piece of business. I think they get a royalty on every blank disc too. The MPAA and RIAA must love it too, as you can track to the source of every publishing. I bet that even the government of China loves it. Hell, our department of insecurity must love it too. Actually, all those people who have capital equipment invested in DVD manufacturing must love it as well, because smaller publishers are not going to be $tepping up from DVD-R anytime soon. It should also help the streaming media businesses justify a higher cost basis. Talk about win-win, blu-ray has it all.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by node 3 (115640)

          You know who else loves it? People who, because of Blu-ray, get to watch high bitrate 1080p movies on their large TVs.

          • Living in the love of the common people isn't enough... HD-DVD gave people that benefit too.

          • ...who could do this without BluRay

            BluRay makes this easier and simpler but it is possible to do this without BluRay ...

          • And how is 1080p high resolution? http://xkcd.com/732/ [xkcd.com] I don't see now Blu-ray is that big a deal. Storage was never the real problem.
      • If what you say is true, my interest in Blu-ray dropped to zero. It means the format is useless for storing user-generated HD content so that it can be conveniently played back by off-the-shelf consumer equipment, like DVD does for SD content. In other words, kills the use-case of sending clips of grandchildren playing to grannies, in a format they can play conveniently. Or an amateur theatre group filming and distributing their show?

        Am I missing something? Sony cannot be that stupid? Do they really want

        • by Malc (1751)

          Duplicated discs (BD-R/RE) do not require any AACS. Replicated discs do require AACS processing, but do not have to be encrypted (see my first reply to the OP).

          • by Malc (1751)

            Just to clarify: duplicated isn't just BD-R/RE, but also DVD-R (BD-5/9). Replicated are BD-ROM.

      • by Malc (1751) on Monday April 26, 2010 @01:42AM (#31980964)

        You do not need to encrypt content on a BDROM - go and read the AACS spec, which is publicly available on the AACS LA's website. CPS Units on a BD Prercorded can be either encrypted on unencrypted for Basic Titles, per the CCI.

        You are correct though that to replicate a BD that you need to pay an AACS fee, but that's now down to $500, IIRC.

        I haven't see any issues with players playing back Type A CMF burnt to BDRE (i.e. partial AACS, as sent to replicators before AACS processing). This is how most authoring houses test their content. In fact, I don't even remember having to specify unencrypted + no disable Copy Permission Indicator when testing on the PS3 recently - at one time we had to burn to BD-REv3 format (which is annoying because that format doesn't support everything in BDROM).

        • You do not need to encrypt content on a BDROM - go and read the AACS spec

          The mandate is from the BDA, not the AACS LA. What the AACS spec says is entirely irrelevant to whether you can release pressed Blu-ray video discs without encryption that can be read by a conforming, licensed, Blu-ray player.

          As the fuckwits who maintain this site are forcing me to wait before I post this because I replied to someone else's comment (which makes me a spammer, I guess), I'll post some other stuff below to use up thei

      • This is incorrect. I've created unencrypted BDs and they play on all players. And even if they didn't work, nearly all BD players also play AVCHD discs (which are very similarly laid out and encrypted) and you could just make one of those instead to play the HD content you want to play.

        It'd be great if you knew from where you spoke before putting out false information like this.

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          This is incorrect. I've created unencrypted BDs and they play on all players. And even if they didn't work, nearly all BD players also play AVCHD discs (which are very similarly laid out and encrypted) and you could just make one of those instead to play the HD content you want to play.

          It'd be great if you knew from where you spoke before putting out false information like this.

          It depends on the profile and player. Prereocrded blu-ray's are using the BDMV profile, which gives you all that nice menu, java, a

        • This is incorrect. I've created unencrypted BDs and they play on all players.

          Really? You own a multi-million dollar Blu-ray duplicator? Or did you misread what I wrote?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by beelsebob (529313)

      x264 is a video encoder, not a format. You're thinking of h264, which x264 encodes into.

      h264 has been used on Blurry disks since day 1.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by Sancho (17056) *

        If we're going to be pedantic, it's H.264.

        • by Kjella (173770) on Sunday April 25, 2010 @09:03PM (#31979678) Homepage

          h264 has been used on Blurry disks since day 1.

          If we're going to be pedantic, it's H.264.

          And there's nothing else in the parent's post which suggests he might not bother spelling everything properly?

        • Pedantic? Pshaw ...

          "The openness of the MPEG process does not exempt you from your duty of calling things with the proper names. ISO/IEC 14496-10 | ITU Recommendation H.264 is called Advanced Video Coding or AVC."

          Something regularly copy pasted on MPEG mailing lists a couple year back ... they are just a bit but hurt over people ignoring their hard work on it (coming in a couple of months before finalization and rubber stamping it, basically ... oh and providing the container format of course, which origina

    • by cbreak (1575875)
      x264 is just software, you can't patent software. H.264 (the format) is somehow under the control of the MPEG-LA though. Currently using it is free, but that will run out in the near future.
      • Wrong. The patent protects the encoding process [uspto.gov], not the format. It's the software which implements the encoding, hence, it's a software patent.

      • by node 3 (115640)

        Currently using it is free, but that will run out in the near future.

        Web use is freely licensed until 2016. I wouldn't exactly call that the "near future".

  • ... A free and open-source way of playing them, without having to doctor the content on the disk (i.e. strip the DRM out) first.
  • Did I miss a memo, or would anything x264 only be considered free software where the shackles of 'patented software' don't apply?

    I like the way some DVD players can play DIVX.
    Maybe someday some Blu-Ray players will be able to play Theora or some other open codec.
    Until then I think Blu-Ray will be 'Read-Only' for me.

  • by spblat (26399) on Sunday April 25, 2010 @04:05PM (#31977454) Homepage Journal

    There is in fact a free software Blu-ray authoring tool. And it is rather nice.

    http://multiavchd.deanbg.com/ [deanbg.com]

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by spikeb (966663)
      that isn't free software.
      • by spblat (26399)

        FTFL: "multiAVCHD is free and no one can charge you, should you decide to obtain/download it."

      • by tehcyder (746570)
        Software you don't have to pay money for is free software in the normal sense of the word. Use of the term "Free Software" by Richard Stallman has not somehow over-written the original wider use of the word "free".
  • Additionally, it seems the Criterion Collection is a friend of free software, having sponsored the effect to confirm x264's compliance with the Blu-ray spec.

    Well, then I give them an A for effect. :)

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