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So happy together

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In the wild, Microsoft, IBM, Intel, Matsushita (Panasonic), Warner Brothers and Walt Disney Company are sworn enemies, locked in a life and death struggle for market dominance. In normal circumstances I doubt whether Jordan Levin, the CEO of Warner Bros., would spit on Walt Disney’s Michael Eisner if he was dying of thirst.

But even the X-Men will team up with their arch-nemesis Magneto from time to time when it’s in their common interest, and the current concern over DVD piracy is definitely on of those issues for our corporate leaders.

The above groups have gotten together to develop and standardize a new technology that will allow people to make a limited number of back-ups of the next generation high-definition DVDs, while at the same time preventing illegal peer-to-peer copying and bootleg sales.

It’s currently illegal to copy your DVDs, which have a built-in CSS security device to throw off pirates. That’s what pissed off Norway’s Jon Johansen, who created a program called DeCSS several years ago that allowed people to circumvent DVD security protocols. He claimed that he was motivated by a desire to back up his DVD collection after noticing how scratches and oxidation took a toll on his CDs.

The cabal of electronics companies working together to create a standard security system for the next generation of DVDs undoubtedly recognized the merit in Johansen’s argument, and realized that other hackers would try to hide behind the same defence. By offering the customer a legal and limited way to back up DVDs, they will take away that defence while winning over many of their customers.

The new system isn’t expected to be introduced until early 2005.

Sony, Samsung team up on LCDs

Warner Bros. and Disney aren’t the only corporate giants hopping into bed these days. Last week Sony and Samsung announced the completion of a new plant in South Korea to manufacture LCD screens. The new plant, which is capable of producing 60,000 large screens a month, is expected to cause the price of a LCD television to drop from an average of $8,000 to around $1,500 in the next few years.

LCD verses Plasma – choose wisely

Speaking of LCD televisions, what’s the difference between next generation LCD and plasma screens? If you’re in the market to upgrade your "home theatre system" – what you used to call your boob tube and stereo – then there are a few things you should know. If you’re swimming in cash then any comparison is about as relevant as Billy Madison’s debate between shampoo and conditioner – LCD and plasma are both awesome. But if this TV has to last you a long time (my own Toshiba tube is turning 21 this year) then you can’t do enough research on the topic.

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