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Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Industry Deal Set on Allowing Limited DVD Copying

A group of media and technology companies including Microsoft Corp. and Walt Disney Co. have agreed in principle to allow consumers to make legal backup copies of next-generation video discs and share their content on portable devices.

The group, which also includes International Business Machines Corp., Intel Corp., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. and Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros., will not have any technology to license until the end of the year.

But the announcement, released late on Tuesday, marks a shift in the way the movie industry has reacted to the threat of online piracy of its films.

Current DVDs are protected by a system called CSS, for content scrambling system, which prevents copying. The computer and consumer electronics industry have pushed to allow less-encumbered sharing of media between TVs, computers, and portable players.

The new alliance has named its yet-to-be-developed content protection technology "Advanced Access Content System." The system will be available to be licensed later this year.

Next-generation DVDs are expected to deliver superior video and audio, although technology and media companies have yet to reach a consensus on which of the competing DVD formats will prevail as the industry standard.

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