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Macrovision to tout lock-down DVD tech

Kills 97 per cent of all known DVD rippers, apparently

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Update Anti-rip software company Macrovision will today claim it can prevent almost all attempts to copy movie DVDs on a PC.

The new technology, dubbed RipGuard DVD, prevents ripper software from working. It isn't fully effective, Macrovision admits, but with a claimed effectiveness rate of 97 per cent, the technique should act as a major disincentive for casual copiers, the company believes.

Unsurprisingly, Macrovision is cautious about giving too much away, but the company did indicate that RipGuard is integrated into the disc itself rather than software installed automatically when a protected disc if first used in a PC.

The company's CD copy-protection system, CDS 300, introduces noise into the audio data in an attempt to fool PC CD drives but leave consumer CD players, with their complex error correction technology, unaffected. RipGuard may use a similar approach, but as Macrovision found with CDS, there is resistance among some user groups to such a system because of concerns that the technique reduces disc longevity.

Since it's already coping with CDS-inserted errors in the data, the argument runs, any player's error correction system will have less headroom to deal with errors arising from scratches and dirt on the disc's surface. In other words, the disc can take fewer knocks and bumps before becoming unplayable.

That's even more true of DVDs, which are inherently less robust than CDs, and will be considerably more so for upcoming digital video disc formats such as HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc, because they cram even more data into the medium.

Macrovision says it is dropping the use of such techniques within CDS in favour of software-based anti-copy solutions. But RipGuard does not use embedded player software. According to Macrovision, it uses a "format-based Unique Digital Framework to each protected DVD5 or DVD9 title", allowing protected discs to continue to work in consumer DVD players and legitimate computer-based DVD playback applications.

Whatever tricks the company uses, it is likely to gain strong support from the movie industry, which has been hurting ever since its Content Scrambling System (CSS), the encryption system developed to protect DVD content, was broken earlier this decade.

Adam Gervin, senior marketing director with Macrovision's entertainment technologies group, cited by ExtremeTech, told consumers to look for Motion Picture Ass. of America (MPAA) members to adopt "complete DVD protection" this year as studios incorporate both RipGuard and Macrovision's established analog copy-protection systems.

RipGuard DVD is available today in "select replication facilities", with general availability expected in Q2. ®

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