DVD Copy Control Assn. passes changes.

Advocates of burning DVDs at home, in small specialty stores and elsewhere besides manufacturing plants are about to receive the blessing of the DVD Copy Control Assn.

The organization responsible for the encryption technology ubiquitous on commercial DVDs confirmed Aug. 3 that a change to the applicable rules had been approved by the DVD CCA's Content Protection Advisory Council and was on its way through the process of being formally adopted.

"The creation of new ways to legally create secure DVD content is the logical next step to answer industry and consumer demand for additional legal digital distribution alternatives," said Chris Cookson, chairman of the DVD CCA board.

The changes initially will enable kiosks and small commercial runs, he added. The nonprofit group envisions a thriving market for niche content that now is unavailable because mass reproduction would not be cost-effective for meeting such limited demand, he said.

Extending this to individual consumers will come soon after, for which it will be necessary to have a computer or DVD recorder connected to the Internet.

In all cases, special blank DVDs will be required. These will use the Content Scramble System for encryption, ensuring they will be compatible with existing DVD players.

"It was very important that these discs be reliable and that they performed as well as consumers have come to expect from the format, so a lot of time and energy was spent to accomplish that," Cookson said.

It will not be possible to copy from one such disc to another. Also, discs for consumer use will come with security codes called key blocks already on them and will be specially packaged to make sure the codes are not sequential. This, along with initially limited demand, is likely to add a small premium over the cost of regular blank DVDs.

Services such as MovieLink and CinemaNow will be able to license this updated CSS for selling movie downloads. MovieLink indicated that it is likely to do so, following its previously announced deal with home-media technology company Sonic. CinemaNow currently uses fluxDVD copy protection from ACE GmbH for purchased downloads.

CSS currently is a two-part system for which manufacturers of both the movie content and players purchase licenses. Although its security was compromised in 1999, CSS remains a significant deterrent to unauthorized copying.

The DVD CCA is responsible for licensing CSS to manufacturers of DVD hardware, discs and related products. It therefore also is responsible for regional playback control, which is part of the DVD specification.

It is overseen by a 12-member board of directors representing the three industries whose products use CSS: consumer electronics, information technology/computers and motion picture/content providers.

This development requires an amendment to the Procedural Specifications for CSS, which was approved by DVD CCA's Content Protection Advisory Council and has been forwarded for membership review and action and approval by the board of directors.