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DVD Video crack delays DVD Audio roll-out

Music biz all in a dither over DeCSS

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The release of DVD cracking tool DeCSS last month has apparently prompted the consumer electronics industry to delay the release of DVD Audio by up to six months. According to Dow Jones, Matsushita's Panasonic and JVC divisions have both put back the release of DVD Audio systems from pre-Christmas December dates to May next year. The reason: to develop a rather better copy protection system than the one that DVD Video currently uses, Content Scrambling System (CSS). Cryptography specialists have already noted that the 40-bit CSS was a fatally flawed encryption system and would have been broken sooner or later anyway -- the Norwegian coders who wrote DeCSS were saved all the really hard work when engineers at RealNetworks subsidiary Xing Technologies failed to encrypt their software's decode key, as required by the DVD technology license. DVD Audio proponents would have had to come up with a more secure system anyway, but DeCSS has forced their hand, at the behest of the music industry, according to a Matsushita spokesman. A spokesman for Nippon Columbia, a division of Sony, said that the company had been forced to trash 10,000 discs readied for the DVD Audio launch. That said, does it really matter? DVD Audio is a nice idea, but it's questionable whether we actually need another audio format right now. DVD Video makes sense because the quality is so much better than VHS -- all DVD Audio appears to offer is room to get Pink Floyd's The Wall onto a single disc (not that the music biz will charge you for a single disc). Oh, and space for all those dull rock star interviews the fanboys get off on. ®

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