Since copies of DVDs made onto videotape are of much higher quality than the video-to-video variety, the answer is "not very safe at all." And while most homes don't have the two VCRs needed to copy a videotape, most homes with DVD players also have a VCR, so copying a DVD onto videotape is a relatively easy task.
The stakes of the piracy game are high. Analysts speculate that digital content providers could lose millions of dollars to illegally duped DVD movies, games, and music. Macrovision, a company that develops copy protection and Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies, is out to keep pirates at bay with its latest digital content protection solution,
MacroSAFE. Macrovision touts MacroSAFE as a highly scalable and flexible end-to-end solution to guarantee the secure distribution and management of video, audio, graphics, text, and other multimedia applications to PCs and set-top boxes.
Essentially, MacroSAFE is a system solution with its function split into various phases:
- client interaction with a provider or distributor to obtain content and the rights to use it
- secure delivery of content
- consumption of content by the client (i.e., consumer, end-user)
"The first unique benefit of the MacroSAFE architecture is in the publishing phase because the process of preparing the content for secure distribution is completely independent of the creative process of authoring content," says Miao Chuang, marketing director for Macrovision in Sunnyvale, California.
Once the content has been created and authored, MacroSAFE's "Validation Tool" checks it to ensure that it's compatible with the clients' abilities to decode and use it. Additionally, the MacroSAFE system supports download, streaming, and super-distribution models of content distribution. In fact, MacroSAFE can be used in hybrid distribution models where content is distributed via physical media, but is then "purchased" or "enabled" using an Internet transaction.
And the MacroSAFE encryption engine can work with or accommodate any existing encryption algorithms.
"We created a product that can easily work with other existing encryption systems and complements our company's existing copy protection and DRM technologies used on packaged media (CD/DVD) for the game software publishers," says Kirby Kish, Macrovision's director of digital technologies.
MacroSAFE also is positioned to work with set-top-box movie-watching and game consoles and is developed for immediate content delivery over IP-based networks. If a set-top-box has both a cable TV as well as an IP connection, the MacroSAFE system would operate complementary to the set-top box by a conditional access system.
According to securities analysts, Macrovision is a dominant player in the content-security industry, and its many technology patents provide a strong engine for growth with the explosion of digital entertainment.
In fact, 75% of all DVDs pressed are encoded with Macrovision's copy-protection solutions. The company hopes that MacroSAFE will dominate the digital content industry, and is primarily targeted for secure online distribution of digital media. At this point, Macrovision will not disclose any current project developments or implementations, but Chuang says MacroSAFE's pricing structure will be based on content owners' and distributors' business models. "MacroSAFE is initially targeted at MovieLink and Movies.com types of applications," Chuang says. "It would use pricing similar to the pricing currently used for content protection for other means of delivery for VOD and PPV business models."