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New Copy Protection Technology Announcement Expected

14 Jul, 2004 By: Holly J. Wagner

A group of studios and technology companies has reached a tentative agreement on a copy protection system that would let users make limited copies of high-definition DVDs to use on a variety of devices.

An announcement about the technology, reportedly called the Advanced Content Access System, was expected Wednesday from the cross-industry Content Protection Technology Working Group, which was set to meet in Los Angeles.

The new system for high-def formats would replace the content scramble system (CSS) that helps regulate regions on standard DVDs.

It includes elements that could let studios set expiration dates for content, including DVDs, by time periods or number of viewings, according to The Wall Street Journal. That could open the door to multiple DVDs of the same title, priced differently according to how long the content would last. And studios could set different limits for different titles.

The system works, in part, by confirming ownership of a DVD each time someone makes a copy using a mechanism similar to a credit card authorization.

It would let consumers play their discs on more devices, which can be problematic with some standard DVDs, especially on computer-based disc players.

Parties in the agreement reportedly include Disney, Time Warner, Sony, Microsoft, IBM, Intel, Toshiba and Matsushita.

It was not immediately clear how the technology might affect the future of high-def formats. Studios hope to stave off a format war between two sharply divided camps: Sony is the major proponent of Blu-ray, while Time Warner and Toshiba are backing the red laser HD-DVD.

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