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Sonic's Qflix licensing process demonstrated
Qflix to pave the way for movies on the cheap as well as unlimited supply for retailers

Sonic, the parent company of Roxio, today announced what it calls a licensing program designed to legally allow users to download content from online providers, burn the content onto DVDs, and watch on set-top players. The program, dubbed Qflix, provides Content Scramble System (CSS) protection for high-quality content.

The Qflix system requires support from both media manufacturers and drive manufacturers. Online digital content providers will also have to be Qflix-enabled, as will the necessary software. When a user downloads a movie for example, the movie has a CSS tag which is recognized by both the client software as well as the drive. When burned, the movie will only be able to be played back on the PC it was downloaded on as well as a standard DVD player. Users will not be able to copy the burned DVD.

The system is broken up into two forms: one for professionals called Qflix Pro, and a standard version for consumers. Right now, Sonic has a host of supporters that include both movie studios as well as hardware OEMs. Plextor, Mitsubishi and Verbatim are just some of the leading manufacturers that have voted "yes" for Qflix.

Warner Brothers studios is also commited to supporting the standard. Chris Cookson, president of Warner Bros. said "Warner Bros. is committed to giving consumers the widest range of choices to access our content in ways that recognize and protect its value."

According to Sonic's own press release:
The Qflix technology and intellectual property program empowers for the first time factory, in-store, and in-home systems for on-demand, electronic sell-through of movies and video programs that can be recorded to DVD with Content Scramble System (CSS) encryption. As the industry-approved content protection mechanism used on mass-produced discs and incorporated into all DVD players, CSS has been deemed essential by major content providers for the on-demand digital distribution of premium entertainment.
One interesting aspect of Sonic's Qflix system is support at the retail level. Sonic, in conjunction with various retailers, plans to offer DVD burning kiosks that will allow users to burn their own DVDs for a fraction of the cost of a retail packed movie. This will also allow retailers to save on actual physical stock. If a store runs out of a particular movie, users can simply burn copies from a virtual library.

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Here is how it works.
By jstrombe on 1/5/2007 6:12:02 PM , Rating: 2
Here is how it works.

1. You download the video file that is protected by something. Likely it would be Windows Media DRM so that you could play it on your computer, but an implementor could choose any encryption package that they want.

2. You use a new "QFlix" DVD. Regular CSS DVDs that you buy at the store have an area that includes encryption keys that work with your DVD player to unscramble the disc (yes, this has been cracked and doesn't really work). The new QFlix DVD will allow you to burn in that area on the disc that is not burnable today, which is why a firmware update is needed for your drive. Regular recordable DVD discs do not allow burning in that area.

CSS protection on a disc also protects the outputs from most DVD players so that you can't plug it back in and copy it onto something else.

3. When you "order" one of these movies your burning program will get a key over the Internet and allow you to burn it once. It likely will communicate back "up" when the burn is complete so that someone knows you did it successfully. It can then be played on any DVD player, just like a DVD that you bought at the store.

4. In ADDITION to the CSS protection, they can add in DVD-Copy protection, such as Macrovision RipGuard, so that you can't rip it using programs such as DVDShrink. Yes, this too can likely be hacked, but they can keep updating the rip-protection software (they can't do that to CSS which is of course programmed into the DVD players). The RipGuard protection does work, I've tried it.

This is a very viable solution for burning at home or burning at an in-store kiosk that, with the addition of anti-rip software, will make it more protected than a purchased DVD. Does it solve piracy - probably not. Does it solve it enough for Hollywood to let people order movies online, download them, and burn them in the comfort of their home - probably. Thank God, at least we are making some progress to be able to do things that should just make common sense.

RE: Here is how it works.
By PrinceGaz on 1/6/2007 6:08:44 PM , Rating: 2
You seriously over-estimate what current DRM is capable of.

If this system allows you to burn one (or more) DVD discs of the movie with CSS protection, then you will be able to clone them with any good disc-image/burning software.

Macrovision RipGuard? It stops people ripping the disc if they use ancient software. Pretty much anything current can rip discs "protected" with RipGuard. It's now nothing more than a bad joke which Macrovision came up with, that stops no pirates but can render discs unreadable in some DVD players. As usual, the legal consumers suffer because of protection, while the pirates are unaffected because they have drives that can read the discs regardless of the protection.

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser

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