New Threat to DVD?

A movie codec dubbed DivX began circulating throughout IRC channels earlier this month, and is becoming quite popular in the pirating world. The new codec allows users to view DVD quality movies – at a fraction of the size.

Unrelated to the now defunct DVD rental system, the new DivX codec was released just recently. The encoding process enables users to convert DVD movies to AVI without sacrificing quality or hard drive space. Encoding this new format may be tougher than the usual procedure, but the overall quality is higher than current movie types and is bound to upset the industry.

Already under heavy pressure by motion picture companies after a utility called DeCSS was able to circumvent DVD copy protection, the DVD Copy Control Association will once again face the heat. Pirating movies over the Internet is nothing new, but the size and quality of a copied film has kept the process out of the mainstream. DivX changes all this however, touting much higher quality at under half the size.


An experienced encoder on IRC who wished to remain anonymous told BetaNews, "If you encode it properly, approximately 100 minutes of good DivX playback will fit on one CD. A normal MPEG rip, at a much lower quality, would take up about twice as much." Another user stated DivX was “the MP3 of the movie industry.”

Even worse for the DVD-CCA is that DeCSS is being used to copy the initial DVD movie to a hard drive in order to convert into DivX. Initially, DeCSS was thought to pose little threat, as a copied DVD would take up too much space to be practical. However, with DivX movies fitting on a single CD purchased at any retail store, swapping of pirated flicks has become much easier.

With DivX's level of quality and small size, movies have already begun spreading quickly around college campuses. Just as MP3 caught on last year, we may soon see the advent of movie-sharing software, or even tools to split up movies for those with slower Internet connections.

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