Hardware manufacturers will start shipping digital video disk (DVD) technology next year after Hollywood movie makers finally agreed on a system for copyright protection last week.
DVD-Roms are likely to take over from CD-Roms as the main technology for PC storage and are set to replace conventional video recorders as home entertainment products.
Products were due to hit the shops this Christmas, but initial arguments between manufacturers about technical specifications and disagreements with major Hollywood studios about encryption led to delays.
Although the film industry is now secure from copyright theft, the agreement raises the question of whether the technology will be used to pirate software.
Entertainment companies including Time Warner and MGM had insisted that their intellectual copyright on films be protected.
They feared that without encryption, DVD would allow people to record and copy feature-length films because of the huge capacity of the 5.25in storage media.
Now the consortium of film makers have agreed an encryption standard, large computer vendors including Intel, Sony, Philips, Hitachi, and Toshiba can begin rolling out the technology early next year.
But the crunch for software companies will come when the next stage in the DVD programme becomes a reality during 1997.
This will produce DVD players that allow data to be written to 5.25in CD disks.
The problem will become more acute over the following year when the standard allows for machines to read and write up to 17Gb of data.
The Business Software Alliance, Microsoft and Novell were unavailable for comment as PC Dealer went to press.
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