Sonic QFlix Promises Download-To-Burn DVDs

Sonic Solutions, which owns the Roxio DVD creation products and high-end DVD authoring systems, has announced Qflix, a certification and licensing program which will enable users to burn downloaded, Hollywood studio video to DVDs protected with Content Scramble System (CSS) encryption—and these DVDs would be playable in any standard consumer DVD player. The catch: Qflix requires a completely new end-to-end system to work: Qflix-created disks will require special DVD media, burning software will have to be updated to support Qflix, and burners will either have to be replaced or upgraded via firmware. Sonic also has to roll out a network of secure key servers to support the technology. But that’s all easy stuff, right, for the benefits of a simple buy-download-and-burn solution for distributing DVD friendly digital video. (Right?) Sonic will detail the solution—which will come in two flavors, Qflix for consumers and Qflix Pro for enterprises—next week at CES.

Part of Sonic’s vision with Qflix is to enable the creation of in-store kiosks which would enable users to select from thousands of movies, television shows, and video titles, choose to burn them to DVD right there in the store, and take them home. Burning a DVD would take 10 to 15 minutes and would be compatible with nearly all consumer DVD players. The appeal of kiosks is that they can offer television shows and obscure titles which are too expensive for video stores too keep in stock, but which could, in aggregate, generate significant revenue if they could be brought to market in an easy, accessible manner.

Sonic has announced support from Warner Brothers, video download service Movielink, kiosk manufacturers like Lucidiom, hardware manufacturers like Plextor, and Verbatim is on board to create the Qflix DVD media. The Qflix service is possible in part because the DVD Copy Control Association eased restrictions on DVD copying to enable DVD jukebox kiosks—and perhaps download-to-burn online movie stores—last summer.

“The floodgates of digital distribution are about to burst, so now is the perfect time to provide an innovative technical solution that combines the advantages of electronic delivery with the simplicity and universal playback capabilities of CSS-protected DVDs,” said Jim Taylor, general manager of Sonic’s Advanced Technology Group. “Downloading to computers, portable devices, and Internet-connected TV set-top boxes are all emerging pieces of the digital media ecosystem, but the entertainment value chain is incomplete without a cost-effective way to digitally deliver content that can be owned and viewed in the consumer’s entertainment venues of choice, including the living room. Qflix delivers this and opens many new channels for vast amounts of video programming such as TV shows, back-catalog movies, special interest programs, independent films, educational titles, and much, much more.”

We’ll see. In the meantime, keep an eye out for Qflix-branded media, players, and software in the coming year.

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