Hackers have succeeded in defeating the Digital Versatile Disc's copy-protection encryption, according to several reports that popped up in late October and early November. Source code for decrypting entire movies is now circulating on the Internet, and an underground trade in illicit copies has arisen.
The world's largest Internet service provider is teaming up with the world's largest video rental chain to deliver movies and as-yet-unspecified content over broadband connections. <A HREF="http://www.aol.com/">America Online</A> is pumping $30 million into a three-year joint venture with <A HREF="http://www.blockbuster.com/">Blockbuster Video</A>, with the intent of leveraging the two companies' huge customer bases for mutual benefit. AOL members will have access to Blockbuster's enormous library of discs and tapes, and Blockbuster will promote AOL by giving away CD-ROMs of AOL version 5.0 at its more than 4000 outlets in the US.
Last week, <A HREF="http://www.ti.com/dlp">Texas Instruments</A> announced that its Digital Light Processing (DLP) technology has received the "Golden Note" award from <A HREF="http://www.avacademy.com">The Academy for Advancing High Performance Audio & Video</A>. The award recognizes DLP as "The Most Innovative Video Technology," and was received at the Academy's Award Banquet at the Indianapolis Westin Hotel.
Is the world ready for interactive television? The <A HREF="http://www.pbs.org">Public Broadcasting Service</A> (PBS) apparently thinks so. Last week PBS, along with several of its member stations, LG Electronics, and <A HREF="http://www.lgerca.com">LG Electronics Research Center of America</A> (LGERCA), began demonstrating "enhanced digital television and data broadcasting" to their viewers as part of PBS Digital Week 2.0.
One of Silicon Valley's most aggressive semiconductor companies has surrendered to the siren song of merger and acquisition. On October 27, Milpitas, California-based <A HREF="http://www.c-cube.com/">C-Cube Microsystems</A> announced that it has entered into an agreement to combine its <A HREF="http://www.divi.com/">DiviCom</A> digital television subsidiary with <A HREF="http://www.harmonicinc.com/">Harmonic</A>, a Sunnyvale designer and maker of digital and fiber-optic systems that deliver video, voice, and data via cable, satellite, telephone lines, and wireless networks. DiviCom products enable digital video broadcasting over the same variety of networks. Blending the two companies may be a good fit for the coming age of digital TV and Internet-based "infotainment."
Put <A HREF="http://www.dreamworks.com/">DreamWorks SKG</A> and Imagine Entertainment together and what do you have? <A HREF="http://www.pop.com/">POP.com</A>, a joint effort by the two of the film industry's most innovative and highly regarded companies. On Monday, October 25, film director Steven Spielberg (<I>Saving Private Ryan</I>), actor/producer/director Ron Howard (<I>Apollo 13</I>), and their associates announced a new joint venture to bring professionally produced short videos to the Internet. The videos will incorporate both live action and animation, with an emphasis on comedy.
Last week, <A HREF="http://www.sony.com/displaysystems">Sony Electronics</A> announced that its newest 16:9 flat-panel plasma display, the PFM-510A1WU high-resolution 42" (viewable area, measured diagonally) monitor, is now available. Sony claims that the new monitor, originally debuted at NAB in April 1999, is one of the first on the market to offer over 1,000,000 pixel capability in a plasma display, and is capable of handling high-definition video signals.
Unheard by the general public, a debate has been raging in engineering circles about the <A HREF="http://www.atsc.org/">Advanced Television Standards Committee</A>'s transmission protocol for high-definition TV. Mandated by the <A HREF="http://www.fcc.gov/">Federal Communications Commission</A>, the standard, known as 8-VSB (trellis-coded 8-level vestigial sideband), has come under fire from several directions, most notably from <A HREF="http://www.sbgi.com/">Sinclair Broadcasting</A>, which has called for an overhaul of the standard after a series of DTV reception tests in the Philadelphia area.
Wading into the recently erupted battle over the future of HDTV (see <A HREF="http://www.guidetohometheater.com/shownews.cgi?553">related article</A>), the <A HREF="http://www.CEMAcity.org">Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association</A> (CEMA) filed a Motion for Immediate Dismissal with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week in response to a proposal submitted earlier by Sinclair Broadcasting. CEMA claims its Motion (available for reading on its <A HREF="http://www.CEMAcity.org">website</A>) is aimed at urging the Commission to avoid a "costly, dead-end path of reopening the digital television (DTV) standard approved in 1996."