The Digital Media Project


Philip Merrill


TRU #63 to distribute lower-res copies only





Philip Merrill

Affiliation/additional information:

Active Contributor, Pasadena, California

Date submitted:







Name of TRU

Usage to distribute lower-res copies only


Summary description of TRU

a primitive usage of the audio and audiovisual analogue industries in which master audio recordings, or film or video masters exist in a higher analogue resolution, or even higher digital resolution, with greater quality of 'signal' than copies released to the public; significant mainly as having affected the analogue past of TRU reproduction thus conditioning economic aspects within which Middle-men tried to "game" the system


Use records of TRU

The nature of resolution in the analogue world asks a question that would have been posed differently back during the time analogue differences were more common. In addition to the use of masters for analogue audio & audiovideo/film duplication, other art and entertainment experiences are suggestive of resolution issues, for example how "good" one's seats are in the audience of a live performance. But back in the days when poor quality was normal for recorded media, and decay-of-quality was always a pressing issue, many scalable realities conditioned how Right-holders and Middle-men conducted their everyday affairs.

Now that scalable media has been long experienced, for example MPEG-4, or at least long imagined, in many ways it is past time to make more use of it. RH and MM certainly did make the most of resolution advantages/disadvantages and abused the equation at times to receive revenue (or to protect established revenue streams). These individuals were doing business according to the rules of the game the way it was played in those earlier times. Our digital perspective is so distant from these earlier conditions as to possibly give rise to a distorted view of the analogue past.

Picture the various positions of a theatrical performance:

  • creator — POV on stage looking out at the audience
  • viewer(s) — comprehensive category for those facing the stage, however they are packed into formation(s)
  • backstage — support roles from the wings produce unusual production-oriented POVs
  • good seats, center front — high resolution, sense of physical intimacy with the people on stage
  • front wings — extremely slanted view of the stage
  • middle-to-back center — a good view as far as centered orientation however a distinctively lower resolution view than in the front row
  • middle-to-back wings — a sense of being away-from-it-all but nonetheless a good albeit slanted view
  • standing room only — the picture may be hard-to-see but the sound is excellent
  • front balcony center — good but vertiginous view
  • other balcony seats — parked in the nose-bleed section
  • theater staff walking around — really different experience, the converse of backstage, involving good audio reception but spastically irregular periods in which the stage is visible
These rich differences are just one well-established example of what we now see as resolution, size and rendering issues. But clearly the ancient Greeks were not thinking digitally as we do now when considering their amphitheaters. In olden days people thought of "quality" and associated it with properties of being "original", "authorised", a "master", or at least "professional" — or even that on-point phrase for high-quality, "front-row seats".

To a degree, the whole structure of copyright law was built on analogue reproduction issues having to do with how difficult it was to make "good" copies as well as many other issues that do not apply to digital. However the quality of scalability has great possibilities for DM and could even be used advantageously by DMP since scalable support of content, with alternative media formats, is good for enabling a variety of DMBMs including licensed quotations.


Nature of TRU

A strangely trivial and obvious Right-holder TRU, worth stating explicitly, or else it could be overlooked because of its obviousness.


Benefits of TRU



Possible digital support

It is somewhat obvious that scales, digital-sizes and resolution of Digital Media may be presented in the alternative, both for aesthetic and delivery-technology criteria. The granularity of this should be made configurable although one can imagine a delay for new formats to receive broad technical support unless they choose to provide it online themselves (for example, as freely downloadable plug-ins for major media players or other software applications).

Also, customised scales and resolutions could be part of the different ways quotes were supported based on users' different privileges with the underlying copyrighted material. For example in a multimedia Hitchcock or Elvis library, different links could display differently and link differently depending on whether someone visiting was a member of the general public, a subscriber, a paid user, a sometime-customer, etc. To state the obvious, a first-time visitor might not be able to immediately screen "North By Northwest" without registering and paying, but subscribers (including at different levels - cheap/expensive) can see links in higher resolutions.

This would be natural for a multimedia film library. For example, these different resolutions:

  • General Public — minimal support based on TRU quote-support, but content-owners can choose to allow medium-res imags to be broadly distributed
  • Subscriber Cheap — A feast of medium-res images of everything.
  • Subscriber expensive — Some DVD-quality material available for "relatively high-res" viewing.
  • Better than DVD quality — The availability of this will always be able to command a financial premium, and broadband distribution is often effective, including potentially P2P.
Inherent to the digital support, getting creative and visual artists involved in how this is done is essential to presenting an appealing graphical user interface.



DMP shall support media consumption in multiple resolutions including quotation support such that linked sources can be consumed in higher resolution based on DMBMs and personal permissions for the referenced source content.