Macrovision releases new “copy-proof“ DVDs

The company’s new RipGuard DVD technology can prevent copying and help increase DVD sales
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Macrovision released a new DVD copy-protection technology that it hopes will substantially broaden its role in Hollywood’s antipiracy effort.

The content-protection company, reported CNET News, is pointing to the failure of the copy-proofing on today’s DVDs, which was broken in 1999. Courts have ordered that DVD-copying tools be taken off the market, but variations of the software remain widely available online.

Macrovision executives said that even if it’s not perfect, the new RipGuard DVD technology can prevent much of the copying done with such tools and can help bolster studios’ DVD sales.

The company may find it hard to break into the DVD protection market, which has historically been managed by companies or industry groups closely associated with the Hollywood studios themselves. However, studios have been deeply concerned by the failure of today’s DVD copy protection and may be willing to experiment with an alternative if it proves practical.

The original DVD copy-protection tool — called Content Scramble System — was developed by a technology coalition that included studio representatives. A group with close ties to Hollywood licensed the tool.

A new coalition, which includes Warner Bros., Walt Disney, IBM, Sony, Microsoft and Intel, is working on another content-protection technology for next-generation DVDs. That technology called the Advanced Access Content System, which is not designed for today’s DVDs, is being designed to let movies be moved around a home though a digital network.

The group has said little about its progress since announcing the project last year, but companies involved told CNET they expect to have it ready in time for the first release of high-definition video on DVD late in 2005.

Meanwhile, Macrovision is promoting its alternative. The company, which has worked with the studios in the past, was responsible for the technique that makes it difficult to copy movies from one VCR to another, and it has updated that technique to help prevent people from making copies of movies using the analog plugs on DVD players.

The company is using a new version of that analog guard to create copy protection for video-on-demand services. That new guard will be included in TiVo devices and other set-top boxes beginning later this year.

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