More DVD War Shots Fired

    August 10, 2005

The high definition DVD wars continue to rage with the Blu-Ray Disc Association’s (BDA) said they now have the “most comprehensive content management system ever employed.” Naturally, the folks at Toshiba and at the HD DVD camp weren’t pleased.

The HD DVD statement said:

“Today’s announcement by the BD Group should not confuse anyone – HD DVD’s content protection system provides the highest level of advanced copy protection to meet content owner’s needs and the rigors of consumer demand,” said Mark Knox, advisor to HD DVD Promotion Division, Toshiba. “This is one reason why many major film studios and IT leaders have announced their support for the HD DVD format.

The AACS system to be used by HD DVD provides the most advanced content protection yet devised: a synthesis of high level security, including renewability, proven reliability, cost effectiveness and flexibility, as well as superior implementation in real-world devices.

Major studios have already announced support for the HD DVD format and a timetable for movie launches. We will continue to promote further penetration of the format, while simultaneously seeking ways to eventually realize a single format that delivers optimized benefits to all concerned industries and, most important, to consumers.”

The BDA product includes the Advanced Access Content System (AACS), the BD+, a Blu-Ray enhancement for content protection renewability, and the – drum roll please – ROM Mark. The ROM Mark is essentially an electronic watermark to protect against piracy. Only those who are authorized will get the equipment to apply that mark. The real rub comes in when someone steals one of the machines and it ends up in China, with copies of Spiderman 3 going for 50 cents or a dollar a copy. One could probably expect this machine to be stolen within a month of production, maybe even before production officially begins.

With various studios and electronics companies siding with either Sony or Toshiba in this fight, it’s difficult to gauge who will win. Sony’s certainly lost fights like this in the past. The capacity of the Blu-Ray carries a lot of weight but the ease and cost of production changes for the HD DVD compared to the Blu-Ray work heavily in Toshiba’s favor.

Where this goes now, who knows? All I know is that some time in the coming months, in order to watch the DVDs I want to watch in high definition, I will be forced to buy both. In all honesty, I think I may buy neither. I like Spiderman 2 and Batman Begins but I don’t want to spend twice the price to be able to play them. I wonder if they’re available on Super 8?

John Stith is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.