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[dvd-discuss] 4 Studios to Issue Films in a High-End Video Format

Does anybody know anything about the digital rights management scheme used?


Four movie companies are to announce today that they plan to release films
like "Die Hard," "Independence Day" and "Terminator" on high-definition
videocassette to be used with a player from JVC, the Japanese electronics
manufacturer. The new JVC format, called D-Theater, is designed exclusively
for use with high-definition television sets.
JVC and the studios - Universal, Fox, DreamWorks SKG and Artisan
Entertainment - emphasize that high-definition digital videotape is a
specialty item for HDTV set owners and is not intended to compete with
digital video disc, or DVD, a successful format that is in about 30 million
households. About two million high- definition television sets are in use
today, the studios said. Universal is a unit of Vivendi and Fox is a unit of
the News Corporation (news/quote).

The JVC player, which has been on the market since September, is priced at
$1,999. JVC is a unit of Matsushita Electric Industrial.

Executives at the studios did not reveal cassette prices, but they say that
because of high production costs they will be in line with the player. "You
can expect an eye-popping price," said one executive who insisted on not
being identified.

Studios had held off releasing movies in the new format until JVC developed
an encryption system to prevent copying and piracy. That has now been
accomplished, they say. No exact release dates have been announced, but
movies on high-definition tape should begin to appear by the middle of this
year. As has been the case with many DVD's, they will be action films loaded
with special effects, which are particularly suited for large screens and
high-end equipment used in home theaters.

"This is a very niche market for the very high-end consumer," said Craig
Kornblau, president of Universal Studios Home Video. When shown on HDTV
sets, digital tape is said to offer picture quality that exceeds DVD, which
offers quality superior to regular VHS but does not approach high

The JVC player and digital cassette will also be able to record programs
broadcast in high-definition format. At present most DVD players cannot
record. The JVC machine is backward-compatible, meaning that it will play
standard videocassettes, though not in high definition.

Executives stress that digital videotape poses no immediate threat to DVD.
With player prices as low as $100, DVD has entered the mainstream and is
generally regarded as video's packaged good of the future. "In today's
market the pieces can exist side by side because they are addressing two
different customers," said Jerry Barbera of JVC's consumer video division.

But in the next few years competition could erupt. DVD is expected to
develop its own high-definition capability and be able to record. "When that
happens I don't see how the videocassette is going to have any advantage
over DVD," said Scott Hettrick, editor of Video Business magazine.

HDTV itself is nowhere near reaching a mass market. "The cassette fills a
need for the next several years," said Steve Beeks, president of Artisan
Home Entertainment. "Our medium of choice long term is still DVD. We don't
see that being upset in any way."