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Film group turns to secure DVD players

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts is issuing voting members secure DVD players to prevent piracy.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts will supply secure DVD players to voting members to prevent them from illegally copying films competing for awards.

Cinea, a subsidiary of Dolby Laboratories, this week announced a deal with the academy to supply SV300 DVD players. The academy will distribute the players to its voting members for films competing in the Orange British Academy Film Awards, which takes place Feb. 12.

The SV300 can play encrypted discs created using Cinea's security system called S-View, the company said. The security system is designed to allow movie and TV producers to secure their content against piracy at production and post-production stages. Only authorized persons can access the protected content and a large number of encrypted discs can be created. Each SV300 player is individually addressable so that pirated versions can be tracked.

Protection of films sent out to voters and juries of different awards is emerging as a major issue in the entertainment industry. A brouhaha occurred last year when the Motion Picture Association of America suggested banning DVDs from being sent to Oscars voters, in an attempt to prevent piracy. The MPAA has been grappling with problems related to DVD-copying software, while industry groups are uniting to develop copy-protection standards for DVDs.

The London-based academy has more than 6,000 members and branches in Scotland, Wales, Los Angeles and New York.

"We are very pleased to be working with Cinea to give our members the opportunity to receive secure screeners. The British academy takes the threat of piracy very seriously, and we welcome any solution that can reduce the risk of unauthorized copying," David Parfitt, chairman of the academy's film committee, said in a statement.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which runs the Oscars, has also endorsed Cinea's plans to DVD players to its members.