Blu-ray might have won the high-definition (HD) disc format wars, but it still has a long way to go before it wins a place in our living rooms... If it ever does. In fact, physical media is seeing increasing competition for our eyeballs from Internet streaming and download sources, such as Netflix
. Further complicating matters is that Blu-ray equipment and media are perceived as being too expensive for most folks, especially when compared against the cost of DVD equipment and media--the very format that Blu-ray is supposed to supplant. In a move that should bring down the price of Blu-ray equipment and media, three of the nine founding members of the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), are proposing the establishment of "a one-stop-shop license for Blu-ray Disc products
Presently, manufacturers and content owners have to license the relevant Blu-ray rights from each of the Blu-ray technology patent owners. A joint licensing agreement would make it much easier for companies to secure Blu-ray technology licenses. This joint license agreement would cover the necessary and relevant patents for not just Blu-ray, but also for DVD and CD technologies as well. "As a result of the efficiencies obtained with the combined license offering, the royalty rates for Blu-ray Disc products are expected to be at least 40% lower than the current cumulative royalty rates for individual Blu-ray Disc, DVD and CD format licenses
The three companies advocating this new licensing paradigm are Panasonic, Philips, and Sony, and they claim to be "working with other Blu-ray Disc patent holders
" to try to get the system in place as soon as "the middle of this year
." An independent licensing company will be set up with the "former head of IP at IBM and more recently CEO of Open Invention Network
," Gerald Rosenthal, as its CEO. Offices will be located in the U.S, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. This new company will also act as a policeman of sorts, identifying Blu-ray products that have not properly secured Blu-ray licenses."The fees for the new product licenses are US$9.50 for a Blu-ray Disc player and US$14.00 for a Blu-ray Disc recorder. The per disc license fees for Blu-ray Disc will be US$0.11 for a read only disc, US$0.12 for a recordable disc and US$0.15 for a rewritable disc."
As a comparison, the DVD license
fee for manufacturers for a DVD player starts at $3, and the fee for a DVD recorder starts at $6. License fees for DVD-ROM, DVD-Audio, and DVD-Video discs are $0.04 per disc; DVD-R and DVD+R licenses are $0.045 per disc; and licenses for DVD-RW and DVD+RW discs are $0.065 per disc.
It's too early to tell for sure, but this should quickly bring down the cost of Blu-ray players and discs, potentially making the technology more affordable and therefore more appealing to more people. But with increasing HD content available from other sources, the future of Blu-ray is anything but certain.