Hardware manufacturers can now begin to deliver digital video disk (DVD) technology to customers after Hollywood companies agreed on a system for copyright protection. But although the film industry is now secure from copyright theft, the agreement poses questions about whether the technology will be used to pirate software.
Companies like Time Warner and MGM had insisted that their intellectual copyright on films be protected because without it people could record and copy full-length feature films on the 5.25-inch storage media, because of its huge capacity - two or three films could be copied per disk.
The players in the consortium agreed on an encryption standard that will protect films from being copied. That will give the green light to Sony, Philips, Hitachi, Toshiba and other large computer vendors to begin rolling out the technology early next year.
Most of these vendors had hoped to bring out units which support read-only DVD-CDs before Christmas. Now they will concentrate on producing their machines next year.
But the crunch for software companies will come when the next stage in the DVD programme becomes reality during 1997. That will produce players that allow data to be written to 5.25-inch CD disks. The problem will become more acute over the following year when the standard allows for machines to read and write up to 17Gb of data.
The Business Software Alliance, Microsoft and Novell were unwilling to comment at press time.
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