CinemaNow and Sonic Try DVD Copying Despite CSS Headaches

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Digital entertainment download service CinemaNow has announced a partnership with Sonic Solutions' QFlix, to develop a system which enables burning of protected DVDs that promise to be identical to those available off the shelf, with one very big catch.

CinemaNow holds protection of DVD copyrights high in its list of priorities. It had previously offered a download-and-burn service, though copied discs intentionally included a kind of defect that was supposed to protect against further copies. That defect defeated those copies to the extent that they did not even play on many DVD players.

Changes to the CSS license were recently approved by the DVD Copy Control Association, making it possible for licensed services to legally burn DVDs, a development which follows CinemaNow's business model perfectly. As a result of a court order, CinemaNow's and Sonic Solutions' joint development should not have to carry the copy-defeating mechanism.

But as a result of studios' ability to adjust the definition of "managed copy" when necessary, new language may be added to the CCA license that would create a situation where DVD copying is technically legal, but also highly improbable. The technicality is that managed copies could be made, but only played if an original resides in the player alongside a copy.

Adding insult to the injury of CinemaNow's adoption is that the downloaded material cannot even be burned on any presently available hardware. This means that CinemaNow's partnership with Sonic, barring other circumstances, would still not yield any fruit until ,someone releases an appropriate CSS-enabled burner and DVD-Rs.