Disney to be the first to distribute encrypted DVD copies to prevent illegal copying

Disney is turning to heavy copy protection to prevent Oscar judges from selling DVDs of forthcoming movie blockbusters to bootleggers. Walt Disney Studios has signed a deal which will use encryption technology from Cinea, a subsidiary of Dolby Laboratories, for 2005 DVD Awards screeners. Among the movies protected by the new encryption technology is the eagerly awaited `The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe` film version of the C.S. Lewis classic.

In the past, some films meant strictly for viewing by awards voters have been pirated months before the films were publicly available on home video, the AP reports.

The deal covers both the major English language awards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the Oscars) and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTAs), according to PC Pro, UK.

'Screeners' are limited edition copies of films that are supposed to be only viewed by the judges to allow them decide the awards winners in the comfort of their homes without having to rub shoulders with the masses.

The Magic Kingdom is concerned that some of its hottest movies may turn up as illegal downloads before they are even released into the cinemas. In previous years 'screener' DVDs, which are intended solely for the use of the 12,000 US Academy members who choose the Oscar winners, have turned up as bootleg copies through retail outlets or as downloads on P2P networks.

To prevent any unauthorised leakage of blockbusters, the Cinea system encrypts each disc with a code unique to each member. The Cinea disc delivered to each member will play only on the Cinea S-VIEW DVD player registered by that member. A Cinea encrypted disc cannot be viewed on any other DVD player or computer.

According to Reuters, the Cinea DVD players were due to be used to guard the screeners last year but insufficient supplies were not available to offer to all the members and so the plan was dropped. A.M.

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