Balkanizing DVD Encryption

An object lesson in the importance of standards. I’m sure that the Cinea system is going to be embraced this time around — let’s see how well Disney does in the Academy voting (did they actually put out anything worthwhile this year?). Disney Picks Encryption Technology [pdf]

Opening the next round in the battle against pre-Oscar piracy, Walt Disney Co. today plans to become the first Hollywood studio to commit to using custom-encrypted DVDs for its Academy Award “screeners.”

The Burbank studio will announce its partnership with Cinea Inc., a Reston, Va.-based Dolby Laboratories Inc. subsidiary that has a system it says will protect the DVDs if they fall into the wrong hands.

[…] “Last year, pretty much every awards screener found its way to the Internet,” said Jeff Miller, an executive vice president at Disney who oversees post-production, explaining why the studio has made a long-term commitment to use Cinea’s technology.

“We’re committed to this system and it’s the first of many steps for the entire industry to get even more serious about theft than we have been,” Miller said.

[…] Last year, with the blessing of the academy, Cinea sent almost 12,000 of its high-end DVD players to academy members. Though the $500 machines were offered free of charge, members gave them a lukewarm reception.

Some grumbled about having to hook up yet another gadget. Some fretted about registering their players with Cinea, whose system marks each disc with a unique watermark that identifies the user. And because Cinea discs can be viewed only on Cinea players, many chafed at having to lug the 11-pound players to far-flung vacation homes in Aspen and Hawaii during the holiday screening season.