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March 3, 1999

RECORD COMPANIES UNVEIL DVD COPY PROTECTION PLANS

By CBR Staff Writer

Four technology companies, backed by five major record companies, have unveiled their plan for a DVD-audio copy protection system. IBM Corp, Intel Corp, Matsushita Co and Toshiba Corp have agreed the parameters for the encryption and digital watermark-based system. The four have been in talks with Sony Music Entertainment, BMG, EMI, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group to agree a specification that assuages music business fears over piracy and home copying using the high fidelity DVD format. Alan Bell, IBM program director, digital media standards and co- chairman of the copy protection technical working group (CPTWG), describes the year long talks regarding the system as regular and intense but says that the first compliant products will be released this year. The audio data is held on the DVD disk, with the encryption keys needed to unscramble that data held on a sector of the disk that can be read by the drive. The data can only be unscrambled if the PC that is decoding the data has an authenticated license. There are also copy protection codes on the disk that can be set to different parameters. Bell expects to see a rapid increase in the take-up of the DVD audio format now that record companies can be assured of copyright protection.

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