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Computer, Music Industry Reach Pact

March 3, 1999

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ Stereophiles rejoice. Top computer companies were expected to announce Wednesday that they have reached a content protection agreement for DVD-Audio systems.

The lack of such an agreement has kept DVD-Audio from being commercially introduced into the music marketplace even as DVDs begin to make headway in the video industry.

DVD, or digital video disc, is a five-inch disc that debuted in 1997 as a new technology that made vidoes more vivid and lifelike. About the size of a CD, the laser-read optical discs sell for about $24 each and their players cost about $500 each.

In the year following the DVD’s debut, the audio industry began developing audio-only DVDs to serve as an upgrade to compact discs. In addition to agreeing on the format, the group set out to find common ground on content protection.

A framework to protect content for the DVD video disc had already been worked out.

Industry sources told The Associated Press that on Wednesday, IBM Corp., Intel Co., Matsushita Electric (Panasonic) and Toshiba Corp. will jointly announce the development of a content protection framework for DVD-Audio.

The framework has received the endorsement of each of the five leading music industry companies, BMG Entertainment, EMI, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group.

The companies would not officially discuss the framework before the scheduled announcement.

The public release of this music industry-supported copy protection framework will enable DVD-Audio to appear on the market this year.

The Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association says that DVDs, which can hold as much as 13 times more information than a CD, can provide six-channel surround sound, giving people a more crisp and lucid listening experience.

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