Sonic Solutions' Qflix ads a standard digital lock -- called a content scrambling system -- to writable or rewriteable DVDs. DVD players have the digital "key" to unlock the content, although it will require consumers to purchase DVDs and compatible DVD burners compliant with the system.
Currently, Verbatim Corp. is working with Sonic Solutions to provide compatible discs, Movielink will have compatible movies for download, and Walgreens is just one of a number of retail kiosks that can burn DVDs for customers. With the Qflix system, customers can have an entire season's worth of a TV show or their favorite movie burned to DVD while they shop. Wal-Mart has also discussed the possibility of providing their own online downloading service or movie-burning kiosks.
This is not the first time a CSS system has been tried. A similar system was tested at the movie downloading service CinemaNow, but a limited library and playback problems plagued the trial.
Although it is backed by Hollywood, studios have shied away from CSS in the past because they feared that making DVD burning too easy would contribute to piracy. Sonic Solutions has been trying to get studios to authorize a "download to burn" option for movies for the past three years. With Qflix, moviemakers could place restrictions on consumers such as using the Microsoft Windows Media system to limit the maximum number of times a movie can be burned.
"We are pleased and encouraged to see efforts like Sonic's creation of Qflix that addresses the need for industry standard protection," Warner Bros. chief technology officer Chris Cookson said in a statement.
All that remains now is for studios to establish costs for the service that will protect their profits without deterring customers.