DVDs will soon be tracked with embedded radio transmitter chips to prevent copying and piracy, according to the company which makes movie discs for Warner, Disney, Fox and other major studios.
The technology, which can also be used for Blu-Ray and HD-DVD discs, will allow movie studios to remotely track individual discs as they travel from factories to retail shelves to consumers' homes.
Home DVD players will eventually be able to check on the chip embedded in a disc, and refuse to play discs which are copied or played in the 'wrong' geographical region, the companies behind the technology expect.
"This technology holds the potential to protect the intellectual property of music companies, film studios, gaming and software developers worldwide," said Gordon Yeh, chief executive of Ritek Corporation.
Ritek is the world's largest DVD maker, and its U-Tech subsidiary will make the discs.
U-Tech and IPICO, the company behind the RFID chips used in the discs, announced today that production of the 'chipped' DVDs will begin at U-Tech's main plant in Taiwan.
U-Tech's global network of factories stamps out some 500 million pre-recorded DVDs and CDs a month for major movie studios, recording studios and video games companies.
After ironing out bugs in the manufacturing process, U-Tech will work with major movie studios on a large-scale test of an RFID-based supply chain management process at its manufacturing plant and distribution centre in Australia.
RFID readers will then be built-in to home DVD players to extend the anti-copying technology into homes as part of a digital rights management system.
U-Tech described this as the "real end game" for the chip-on-disc technology, which would "eliminate optical disc piracy in the entertainment and IT sectors" .
IPICO claims that its RFID tags can be read from at least six metres away, and at a rate of thousands of tags per minute. The passive chips require no battery, as they are powered by the energy in radio waves from the RFID reader.
"I have envisioned using RFID to improve product visibility and enhance security in the optical disc industry for some time," said Yeh.
"Launching the chip-on-disc system has made this dream a reality and holds the potential to protect the intellectual property of music companies, film studios, gaming and software developers worldwide."
Gordon Westwater, president of IPICO, added: "[This is the] first step towards new international standards to safeguard optical media, and the subsequent adoption of the chip-on-disc concept as a global standard."
U-Tech Australia, where the project will undergo a large scale trial, did not reply today to vnunet.com's request for comment on the new embedded RFID chip process and the precise schedule for its rollout.
Press relations staff at U-Tech's office in Taiwan refused to provide more information about the technology.