The best attempts of Hollywood to protect its film copyrights look likely to be thwarted by a security flaw in the design of digital video disks (DVDs).
Standards and availability for DVD technology were delayed because film companies were anxious to make sure that, when movies were made available on DVD, they were not pirated as audio recordings often are.
But according to a senior engineer at one of the larger disk mastering companies, the safeguards that were built in can be circumvented by simply replacing one chip on the motherboard.
The engineer, who did not want to reveal his name or his company, said that the chip, which contains the encryption coding for the six different regions across the world, can be obtained in a vanilla version. If the encryption chip is replaced, he claimed that gives immediate access to any of the titles in any of those regions.
He believes that will lead inevitably to piracy of titles and complained that DVD films will face the same copyright problems as other media formats.
Many of the masters, he claimed, were of inferior quality, and it was likely that copies made from the masters would also be inferior. "Some of them should be thrown on the fire," he said. "Although good mastering equipment can rectify many of the problems, it takes time and talent to fix them."
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