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Thursday,  May 29 12:01 AM EDT

Sony Unveils New Self-Destructive
DVD Player

By Brian Briggs and Christa Morse

Tokyo - Many industry analysts have wondered which way Sony would go in the copyright protection debate. Sony manufactures both hardware, which is harmed by piracy controls, and entertainment, which is helped by piracy controls. A recent release of a self-destructive DVD player shows that the entertainment division is winning that internal argument.

"Large amounts of pirated material were hopefully destroyed in the blaze," said MPAA officials.

"Copy protection has been foiled too easily by pirates, and we need to do something more effective," said Sony Entertainment vice-president Harold Wang. "Self-destructive DVDs have been tried, but rejected by consumers. We feel that consumers will embrace the self-destructive DVD players, because it gives them that Mission Impossible I've-got-the-latest-gadget feeling. We even have the player say 'This DVD player will self-destruct in 10 seconds.'"

Wang addressed the safety concerns of destroying a DVD player: "Sure there are safety issues, but most homes are equipped with smoke detectors these days, and are chock full of pirated material which would be destroyed in the blaze. OK, their house might burn down, but isn't that a small price to pay to combat piracy?"

Instead of the standard low-powered laser most DVD players are equipped with, the SD-DVD player from Sony has a high-powered laser which will eventually burn through the DVD and ignite the highly flammable material from which the player is made.

Other DVD player manufacturers such as Panasonic and Hitachi also announced self-destructive player. "I've seen the Sony model and it slowly catches flame and burns up. Our model is fitted with a small amount of plastic explosives which causes a much more dramatic destruction. Consumers will feel like they're in the movie when that thing goes off," said Ronald Misuki of Panasonic.

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Hollywood applauds the move. Chairman of the MPAA Jack Valenti said, "Not having a DVD player makes it absolutely impossible to view pirated content, which makes copying a DVD entirely useless. Granted, it also makes watching the damn thing impossible, but we don't care if you can't see the content, just as long as you buy brand new, legitimate copies from your local or online store."

DVD rental chains Blockbuster and Hollywood video expect to reap a large benefit from consumers who forget to eject a DVD before the player self-destructs.

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