Control & Automation

Modulus 4K Media Server Does Everything: Rips DVDs, Records Hulu, Replaces DVR

Modulus lets you rip DVDs and Blu-rays, record content from Hulu and Netflix, share shows to Plex-enabled devices, replace your cable DVR, skip commercials and control it all by voice, app or qwerty remote.

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12 Comments
Posted by kipoca on November 3, 2017

That “legal” defense is pretty flimsy. He’s arguing that DVD and BD playback is supported legally, when the question isn’t playback but breaking the encryption. The DMCA exemption is also for playback, not ripping.

Posted by kipoca on November 3, 2017

Call me unconvinced when we sold a similar product years ago and that manufacturer went under because of legal costs defending the software to rip DVDs, and they didn’t even provide the software - it was downloaded from a russian server. But because they gave directions to download and install the software, it was a problem.

Posted by Homemedia on November 3, 2017

Did you obtain a service or content without paying for it?  then its illegal - pretty simple.  why should software be an different.  oh i took this Blu Ray player out of the store but i didnt sign any agreement and all its parts were made legally,  therefore i can ..  does that sound legal?    the only thing that has kept them from being sued is the small size of their operation, not worth the legal costs, but if it gets any bigger then they will show up on the legal radar.  no amount of double talk will save them.

Posted by weddellkw on November 3, 2017

They appear to be off-loading the legal risk (with regards to DVD/BD ripping) to the end-user.  Not sure how much longer people will care about that anyway.  (Edge cases like yachts, remote vacation homes, etc not withstanding.)

Tough to believe that recording/storing streaming content from Netflix, Hulu etc is not a violation of the ToS, or at least their intent.

Services like PlayOn use the DVR defense to side-step this.

If any box or service that accomplished all of this became mainstream I’d expect a legal/legislative showdown of some sort.

That being said, I got to see the product demo’d six or seven months ago.  It appears to work as advertised, and they’re pitching an attractive starting price.

Posted by Julie Jacobson on November 3, 2017

So the trick is to not let them get too big then!

Posted by CalDreaming on November 3, 2017

@Homemedia: Exactly who isn’t paying for what?  I didn’t see where anyone was stealing anything, I got the impression users can save to disk what they are paying to legally access and playback, not steal or upload.  Frankly, lots of clients want exactly this capability for their own home, using cable and streaming services they pay to get, and DVDs / Blu-Rays they own.

Posted by Paul Cunningham on November 5, 2017

@CalDreaming - if the subscription-based content recorded from Netflix et al is still accessible after the subscription expires, I do believe that would be illegal and fall squarely outside of “fair use.”

Posted by CalDreaming on November 7, 2017

@Paul Cunningham: Recording from an authorized Netflix subscription is analogous to any DVR out there saving a subscribed cable TV show (i.e. “time-shifting”), what’s the difference?  That can be done with any Tivo box, and it seems to fall within “fair use”.  If they don’t do any decryption to save streaming, then it’s not violating the DMCA, either.  I suppose it does violate Netflix’ terms of use, but that’s a choice of the subscriber, not the company, which is a contract dispute, not breaking federal law.  Besides, the article talks about Playon that has been successfully doing that for 8 years now with no legal impact.  What about Plex, which makes your media available for your friends - that’s clearly illegal but even that is accepted these days.  Frankly, I care much more about when I can get one for myself, and we’ve already had customers asking for it, too.  If it really does all that’s on their website, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a big success.

Posted by Richard Gunther on November 7, 2017

Tenuously clinging to the fair use doctrine aside, I just don’t see this going anywhere. We saw this product several years ago at CES. Struck me then and strikes me now as a bloated HTPC. And in typical waterfall product development fashion, it gets delayed year after year as they add more to it. In my opinion, the only way a product like this works if if they’re offering a killer user experience. That’s one of the things that sets Kaleidescape apart. Some (maybe still many?) of their online streaming services actually require you to use a mouse pointer because you’re simply using a service’s web experience. IMO, that’s a non-starter for many people, especially on the TV or home theater screen.

Posted by AVonSteroids on November 7, 2017

@Richard Gunther CEDIA ‘16 was their first show (I talked with them there) you must be confused.  No switching HDMI inputs, total voice control, clean integrated UI seems like a killer user experience to me.  What’s wrong with simply pointing at what you want on the screen?  It uses CAT5/CAT6 distribution, which is where things are headed.  Anyway, seems very credible, maybe not your thing, but there’s nothing else like it.

Posted by Richard Gunther on November 7, 2017

@AVonSteroids, you’re probably right about the timing—it just feels like a long time coming. So “year after year” delays is not an accurate framing, but I’m still just not excited.

Posted by weddellkw on November 7, 2017

CEDIA 16 may have been their first public showing but I’m sure this was floated and previewed earlier than that.

And totally agree that relying on the streaming services to turn a blind eye on the likes of PlayOn and this product is not a long term solution.  Good for them if they get to market and make a profit, but its just not a product I’d want to recommend, support and warranty for my customers.  With an AppleTV or a Roku, if something stops working, it stops working for a huge customer base.  I can honestly inform people that its not their or my fault, and most likely the manufacturer/provider will fix it promptly.  Sell low-volume boxes like this that skirt the edges of legality and you become the focus of your customers ire.  If Netflix or Hulu change their streaming app, or suspend your customers account, I do not want to be on the receiving end of that phone call.

12 Comments
Posted by weddellkw on November 7, 2017

CEDIA 16 may have been their first public showing but I’m sure this was floated and previewed earlier than that.

And totally agree that relying on the streaming services to turn a blind eye on the likes of PlayOn and this product is not a long term solution.  Good for them if they get to market and make a profit, but its just not a product I’d want to recommend, support and warranty for my customers.  With an AppleTV or a Roku, if something stops working, it stops working for a huge customer base.  I can honestly inform people that its not their or my fault, and most likely the manufacturer/provider will fix it promptly.  Sell low-volume boxes like this that skirt the edges of legality and you become the focus of your customers ire.  If Netflix or Hulu change their streaming app, or suspend your customers account, I do not want to be on the receiving end of that phone call.

Posted by Richard Gunther on November 7, 2017

@AVonSteroids, you’re probably right about the timing—it just feels like a long time coming. So “year after year” delays is not an accurate framing, but I’m still just not excited.

Posted by AVonSteroids on November 7, 2017

@Richard Gunther CEDIA ‘16 was their first show (I talked with them there) you must be confused.  No switching HDMI inputs, total voice control, clean integrated UI seems like a killer user experience to me.  What’s wrong with simply pointing at what you want on the screen?  It uses CAT5/CAT6 distribution, which is where things are headed.  Anyway, seems very credible, maybe not your thing, but there’s nothing else like it.

Posted by Richard Gunther on November 7, 2017

Tenuously clinging to the fair use doctrine aside, I just don’t see this going anywhere. We saw this product several years ago at CES. Struck me then and strikes me now as a bloated HTPC. And in typical waterfall product development fashion, it gets delayed year after year as they add more to it. In my opinion, the only way a product like this works if if they’re offering a killer user experience. That’s one of the things that sets Kaleidescape apart. Some (maybe still many?) of their online streaming services actually require you to use a mouse pointer because you’re simply using a service’s web experience. IMO, that’s a non-starter for many people, especially on the TV or home theater screen.

Posted by CalDreaming on November 7, 2017

@Paul Cunningham: Recording from an authorized Netflix subscription is analogous to any DVR out there saving a subscribed cable TV show (i.e. “time-shifting”), what’s the difference?  That can be done with any Tivo box, and it seems to fall within “fair use”.  If they don’t do any decryption to save streaming, then it’s not violating the DMCA, either.  I suppose it does violate Netflix’ terms of use, but that’s a choice of the subscriber, not the company, which is a contract dispute, not breaking federal law.  Besides, the article talks about Playon that has been successfully doing that for 8 years now with no legal impact.  What about Plex, which makes your media available for your friends - that’s clearly illegal but even that is accepted these days.  Frankly, I care much more about when I can get one for myself, and we’ve already had customers asking for it, too.  If it really does all that’s on their website, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a big success.

Posted by Paul Cunningham on November 5, 2017

@CalDreaming - if the subscription-based content recorded from Netflix et al is still accessible after the subscription expires, I do believe that would be illegal and fall squarely outside of “fair use.”

Posted by CalDreaming on November 3, 2017

@Homemedia: Exactly who isn’t paying for what?  I didn’t see where anyone was stealing anything, I got the impression users can save to disk what they are paying to legally access and playback, not steal or upload.  Frankly, lots of clients want exactly this capability for their own home, using cable and streaming services they pay to get, and DVDs / Blu-Rays they own.

Posted by Julie Jacobson on November 3, 2017

So the trick is to not let them get too big then!

Posted by weddellkw on November 3, 2017

They appear to be off-loading the legal risk (with regards to DVD/BD ripping) to the end-user.  Not sure how much longer people will care about that anyway.  (Edge cases like yachts, remote vacation homes, etc not withstanding.)

Tough to believe that recording/storing streaming content from Netflix, Hulu etc is not a violation of the ToS, or at least their intent.

Services like PlayOn use the DVR defense to side-step this.

If any box or service that accomplished all of this became mainstream I’d expect a legal/legislative showdown of some sort.

That being said, I got to see the product demo’d six or seven months ago.  It appears to work as advertised, and they’re pitching an attractive starting price.

Posted by Homemedia on November 3, 2017

Did you obtain a service or content without paying for it?  then its illegal - pretty simple.  why should software be an different.  oh i took this Blu Ray player out of the store but i didnt sign any agreement and all its parts were made legally,  therefore i can ..  does that sound legal?    the only thing that has kept them from being sued is the small size of their operation, not worth the legal costs, but if it gets any bigger then they will show up on the legal radar.  no amount of double talk will save them.

Posted by kipoca on November 3, 2017

Call me unconvinced when we sold a similar product years ago and that manufacturer went under because of legal costs defending the software to rip DVDs, and they didn’t even provide the software - it was downloaded from a russian server. But because they gave directions to download and install the software, it was a problem.

Posted by kipoca on November 3, 2017

That “legal” defense is pretty flimsy. He’s arguing that DVD and BD playback is supported legally, when the question isn’t playback but breaking the encryption. The DMCA exemption is also for playback, not ripping.