In another move toward digital movie distribution, Hollywood studios on Thursday announced they are backing a new technology that will make more movie titles available for consumers to download from the Internet and burn to DVD.
Sonic Solutions’ industry-approved system, a licensing and certification solution called Qflix, aims to overcome a major obstacle in digital movie downloads — getting the content from the hard drive to the TV without opening the door to piracy.
Sonic will demonstrate Qflix solutions by appointment at the Consumer Electronics Show January 8-12 in Las Vegas.
“Downloading to computers, portable devices, and Internet-connected TV set-top boxes are all emerging pieces of the digital media ecosystem, but the entertainment value chain is incomplete without a cost-effective way to digitally deliver content that can be owned and viewed in the consumer’s entertainment venues of choice, including the living room,” said Jim Taylor, general manager of Sonic’s Advanced Technology Group.
Qflix appears to satisfy Hollywood’s demand for anti-piracy solutions. Currently, movie studios, TV networks and other content creators back a lock, known as a content scrambling system (CSS) that comes standard on prerecorded DVDs. DVD players have a key that fits the CSS and allows viewers to play the DVD.
Digital movie download Web sites, such as Movielink and CinemaNow, have not been allowed to use CSS because the entertainment industry feared that piracy would spiral out of control if copyright thieves had a key to unprotect and freely burn DVDs.
The Qflix technology claims to prevent piracy — the only catch is viewers will need a new, blank DVD and compatible DVD burners in order to use Qflix.
OEMs Play Key Role
Before the activity of downloading movies from the Internet and burning them to a DVD becomes mainstream, though, mass-produced discs and DVD players must incorporate the Qflix technology.
The Qflix brand will appear on compatible drives, media, and video download services. Qflix Pro for enterprise users will use the technology to replicate DVDs at the time of online order, reducing the cost of carrying physical inventory while simultaneously opening extensive catalogs of content, the company said.
Qflix Pro will also enable new self-service and retailer-managed movie kiosks that will broaden the selection of available movies by augmenting physical product with a virtual inventory.
“The question with Qflix is how long it takes to burn,” Inside Digital Media Senior Analyst Phil Leigh told TechNewsWorld. “That will be important, particularly at a kiosk. It sounds convenient. If the store is out of the movie you want, you could just burn the DVD. But if it takes an hour to burn it, then you can only sell eight of them a day.”
Following the Music Industry
For some time, the music industry has allowed consumers to pick and choose songs to download and burn to a CD. However, Leigh said that consumers prefer downloading individual songs to a hard drive or an MP3 player.
In the case of full-length movies, “the ability to download and burn to media is a more significant advance than it was for the music industry,” Leigh noted. “It’s going to provide something that consumers want.”