not to be confused with the Candy-Like History Eraser button

The manual for my video projector contains this this bizarre sentence in the middle of explaining what one of the buttons on the remote control does:

"If the picture size is compressed or enlarged by using the 16:9 aspect ratio when the projector is used for profitable purpose or in the presence of an audience (for example, in a coffee shop or at a hotel etc.), it may infringe the rights of the copyright owner of the original picture."

From now on I will refer to the button labelled "ASPECT" as "INFRINGE COPYRIGHT".

Here's a horrifying thing to contemplate: how many lawyer-hours must have been billed before this gem of writing eventually made it into the manual.

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25 Responses:

  1. Funny, though, how it's perfectly fine to chop off the sides of someones hard work in order for movies to "fit to your tv" for the folks who demand nothing less than moving picture on every inch of their shitty tv.

    • badc0ffee says:

      Somehow cropping bothers me less than watching 4:3 content in stretch-o-vision on a widescreen.

      • lionsphil says:

        I know people who do that. :(

        What's worse is that, even with black bars, the picture area is no smaller than the old 4:3 television it (sadly) replaced. It's some kind of weird psychological thing.

    • gryazi says:

      The rightsholders presumably gave permission for the chop in the rebroadcast agreement(s).

      Broadcast/rebroadcast rights are frickin' weird, though. So under certain commercial circumstances, cropping off ESPN's logo in a sports bar might be actionable if anyone cared enough to try. Same with that whole 'playing CDs in a commercial establishment requires you to pay more/goes beyond fair-use' thing. Squish/stretch is also a 'modification' of the image and, as any fchan user knows, modified images get saged.

      Not saying it's particularly sensical, just translating. And oh, hey, remember the big flap about the extra-censorship box being marketed to prudes at the end of the '90s/early '00s? Producers were freaked out about that getting between the transmitter and eyeballs, same as they were with Tivo and anything else that could potentially filter a commercial. Anyone have a list of fair uses that haven't been contested yet?

    • ywwg says:

      Worse is being a content producer whose network specifications include the requirement that all text must be "protected" for 4x3 viewing -- ie, even though the show is widescreen, it has to still be intelligible if the sides are cut off with a simple center crop. You'll see this all the time on sports and news broadcasts, where the images aren't really composed for 16x9 at all.

  2. vordark says:

    I'm guessing "shit tons" of hours, given how prone the copyright overseers are to suing the makers of the tools that might be used for infringement.

    Along related lines, you're making me wonder if my HD TV has hard limit in the manual as to the number of people that should be watching it at one time, so it doesn't qualify as a "public display".

  3. phoenixredux says:

    Ok, so viewing the video in the wrong aspect ratio can lead to a compressed or compromised viewing experience (read: shittier) for the viewer, but how, exactly, does it harm me as a video producer if someone watches my show using the wrong settings on their monitor? If I've already sold them the DVD or sold ad time within the program or whatever my scheme is that actually drives profit, I don't care if they hang upside down from monkey bars while wearing an eye patch. Why should I care?

    • edlang says:

      The crap viewing experience might dissuade people in the audience from buying your future works. If they're going to be shown material illegally, it needs to fucking sparkle so those people guiltily go out and buy shinies.

  4. eugene_o says:

    It's funny, but I think it's just two separate sentences that got merged when they translated it from Chinese. Try putting a period before "when".

    • scullin says:

      "If the picture size is compressed or enlarged by using the 16:9 aspect ratio." is not a complete sentence, even in Chinese.

  5. injector says:

    Similarly DVD players are forbidden from upscaling their output unless it is into a HDCP encrypted connection, yet if the output is 480i/p it doesn't have to be encrypted. So the interpolated data, which is being created by the player, somehow needs protection?

    • jaydubbee says:

      Funny, I have a Samsung DVD player that outputs upscaled 720p and 1080i over analog.

      • injector says:

        Oh, I misremembered. Over analog upscaling is OK, but over HDMI, it must be an HDCP link.

        Here's another screwy one: The DVD consortium has sort of conceded defeat on the issue of players being region free. But the Blu-ray group says, "if you want to be able to play Blu-rays you have to properly restrict out of region DVDs."

        • jwz says:

          Yeah, and I recently stumbled over this stupid DRM on the Playstation 3. My projector has both component and DVI-D inputs. If I run component from the PS3 to the projector, I get 1080i. If I run HDMI from the PS3 to the projector through a cable with HDMI on one end and DVI-D on the other, I get black. Apparently my projector doesn't do HDCP and so the PS3 won't talk to it digitally at all. It would have taken me fewer hours to figure this out if they had sent a "ha ha DRM fuck you" static image as an error message instead of just black, but apparently this is what is actually going on.

          So I'm just driving it in analog, and it pretty much looks fine. Of course there are $200-ish devices available which will break the legs off of HDMI's DRM if you must go digital, such as this HDMI→VGA thing. At least until the thugs shut them down.

          • hallerlake says:

            Your proposed error screen scores a keyboard kill

          • gryazi says:

            I wonder how many inexpensive (meaning $200 but you get a whole amplifier and FM radio with it) home theater 'receivers' serve as a HDCP to who-the-fuck-cares filters.

            You'd think just using a... switch... would be simpler, but it is The Future, and to accept input from a HDCP device you're supposed to Be Compliant by having a chip with a HDCP key, right?

  6. sas_spidey01 says:

    That is just priceless!!!

  7. The weird thing is, showing the video for profitable purpose or to an audience in the first place is probably a violation of copyright right there on its own, without changing the aspect ratio at all.

    (I'd just like to note that I envy you having a 16:9 button. I have a TV with a 16:9 mode, that requires about 14 remote control keypresses to activate. I ended up buying a macroing remote solely to automate that function. :P)

    • luserspaz says:

      I picked up a (relatively) cheap Logitech Harmony remote once I bought an AV receiver, because I found that I now had three "universal" remotes (from the TV, DVR, and receiver), none of which could actually control all the functions of the others, and you still had to do the intricate dance of setting inputs and things. I await a future in which all my components can talk to each other and automatically set those things up. Of course, they will inevitably collectively decide that I am infringing copyright somehow, and not work at all.

      • jwz says:

        My projector has an http server in it, and my receiver has a serial port for a wired remote. So I stuck a serial-to-ethernet dingus on the receiver and wrote a perl script that can talk to it. So now I've got an app in my dock that toggles the projector on and off, and when it does so, it also switches inputs on the receiver, sets the volume to the defaults I've picked for each mode, and pauses iTunes.

  8. mcfnord says:

    Editors: Worth every penny.

  9. luserspaz says:

    It is terribly depressing that the movie studios forced the electronics industry to adopt HDCP, which essentially causes nothing but problems for consumers, when the people who want to pirate movies have just gone and cracked Blu-Ray's protection anyway. Who is going to bother recording a digital output when you can just rip the disc, or download it from a torrent site?

    At least the music industry seems to have given up on DRM. Maybe the movie industry will get there before they drag the electronics industry into their tar pit with them.

  10. unwoman says:

    I would love to see people get sued for fucking up aspect ratios. Two wrongs just might make a right in this case.