Reseller News

Sony passes on porn for Blu-ray Disc

Sony says it will not work with the adult film industry to help put their movies on its Blu-ray Disc format, although it won't try to stop them completely.

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

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.

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 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," says 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 license."

Sony's decision to stay away from pornography could have wide implications for Blu-ray Disc. Not only will some companies backing Sony's format 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.

Several adult film companies say 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," says 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 says in a statement.