How DivX delivered DRM into the living room and finally won Hollywood's blessing

I’ve written before about DivX being the video format of choice for ‘grey’ (read: pirated) content, but now it seems that the near ubiquitous standard is finally on the road to legitimacy with relation to content owners.

Download-to-own movie site Film Fresh (U.S.-only), in partnership with DivX, has secured content from Hollywood studios Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Sony and Warner Bros. The deal marks the first time that major studio content has been offered for sale in the DivX format in the U.S., according to Film Fresh.

But what made this possible?

Despite DivX winning the hearts and minds of those wanting a cross platform video format for sharing pirated content, and perhaps as a consequence winning the hearts and wallets of device makers (DVD players, PMPs, and set-top boxes etc.) who signed up to officially support DivX, the video standard has for a long time now offered support for Digital Rights Management, the required copy protection technology needed to secure Hollywood’s blessing.

In other words, and rather counter intuitively, pirated content has acted as a trojan horse to deliver DRM into the living room. And with it, copy protected Hollywood content. With the necessary anti-piracy hooks in place, I’m actually surprised it took this long.

See also: DivX 7 adds support for Blu-ray rips

From the press release: “Consumers have the freedom to transfer their DivX movies via DVDs, USB drives, SD memory cards, and portable hard drives, or streamed over a home network for playback on other registered DivX Certified devices they own–all on supported products from top consumer electronics brands such as LG, Philips and Toshiba.”

Those “DivX Certified” devices already sold add up to the “millions”, and include DVD players, digital TVs, gaming consoles (PS3), Blu-ray disc players, and portable DVD players.

That’s some trojan horse.

Of course, as NewTeeVee notes, that’s not to say that Film Fresh will be a success. What with existing download-to-own competition from Apple’s iTunes and Amazon, along with the fledging Vudu. And then there’s the issue of whether or not consumers really want to ‘own’ the films they source from the Internet. Piracy aside, ad-supported streaming (Hulu) and subscription-based rental models (Netflix) etc. are becoming increasingly popular.

last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

2 Responses to “How DivX delivered DRM into the living room and finally won Hollywood's blessing”

  1. Dave Zatz says:

    There's no room left in the market for these guys. Done, and doner.

  2. indeed, DivX is the future of a better home viewing… 😀

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