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Blu-ray snub to porn filmmakers

Sony refuses to work with adult industry

Sony has said it will not work with the adult film industry to help put pornographic films on its Blu-ray Disc format, although it will not try to stop them completely.

The company will not allow its disc replicating subsidiary, Sony DADC, to handle adult film titles, it said this week. In markets where it operates around the world the company won't duplicate any movies above a certain rating or that have not been certified by a local motion picture association.

Sony wouldn't disclose exactly where it draws the line, but the rule means that adult movie makers will have to find someone else to reproduce their films in bulk. While other companies offer such services, the adult industry feels it is being cut out of the Blu-ray camp altogether.

The choice of which HD (high-definition) disc format to use was "kind of made for us, so everything we are replicating right now is in the HD DVD format", said Robby D, a director at popular adult film maker Digital Playground. "As far as I understand, Sony has said to the replicators that if you replicate adult, you'll lose your licence."

Sony's decision to stay away from pornography could have wide implications for Blu-ray Disc. Not only could some companies backing Sony's format will miss out on a lucrative market, but analysts say it could eventually mean that Blu-ray loses out to HD DVD in the battle to become the next-generation DVD format.

Many believe that Sony's Betamax video tape format, while technologically superior to VHS, died because the adult movie industry was barred from using Betamax, noted Jake Richter, an analyst at Jon Peddie Research. "Is Sony doomed to repeat one of the mistakes of the past? It seems like that may be the case," he wrote in a report.

The adult film industry has already shown signs of turning to HD DVD. Several companies have said the issue is not just gaining access to the 'stampers' that reproduce their movies in bulk, but that they also can't get help with technical issues from the companies backing Blu-ray Disc.

"Nobody comes out and says, 'No, we won't work with adult.' But Blu-ray just offers no help," said Jackie Ramos, vice-president of DVD production at Wicked Pictures, another popular adult movie company.

The Blu-ray Disc Association, which oversees the licensing of the technology, says it has not banned anyone from using the format. "We look forward to working with any content providers interested in providing their audience with the best possible high definition home entertainment experience," the group said in a statement.

One major adult film company, Vivid Video, plans to release a sequel to the classic Debbie Does Dallas in both Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD this spring, its first-ever HD video offering. A spokesman for the company, Shylar Cobi, declined to comment on how Vivid would gain access to stampers, but said he does not expect it to be a problem.

Still, several other adult film companies interviewed said the industry as a whole plans to use HD DVD, because of the problems of working with Blu-ray Disc. Wicked Pictures chose HD DVD for the first ever high-definition adult film released this month at the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas. Several other companies plan to release high definition movies this year, including Digital Playground, which is releasing its first HD DVD title this week.

"Sony is really protective of proprietary information and proprietary products, especially when it comes to the adult market. Sony is always a little more stand-offish and hands-away from it," said Jay Grdina, president of ClubJenna.


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