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MMG in Pact to Sell Anti-Piracy Technology

COMPANY TOWN

March 01, 2000|MICHAEL A. HILTZIK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A group of ex-Hollywood executives thinks it has solved one of their former industry's most vexing riddles: How to keep entertainment material on the Web from being stolen.

Massive Media Group, whose chairman is Frank Biondi, former Universal Studios and Viacom chief executive, and whose CEO is Howard Weitzman, a lawyer and former top Universal executive, will market a digital security system designed to block piracy of digitized movies, TV clips and other material.

MMG announced an agreement Tuesday with InterTrust Technologies, a Santa Clara, Calif., company that developed the technology. Under the deal, MMG gets the nonexclusive right to market the technology to traditional entertainment companies and other purveyors of entertainment material.

The financial terms were not disclosed, but Weitzman said InterTrust has made an investment in MMG and has agreed to cooperate with MMG in developing applications for clients. The partnership does not include a separate deal that InterTrust has made to provide its technology to Bertelsmann, the German entertainment conglomerate. MMG says it has been in talks with most of the other major entertainment companies.

The vulnerability of media content from piracy on the Web has become the entertainment industry's nightmare. Once a film clip, say, is digitized for electronic transmission, anyone who manages to copy that version can theoretically manufacture perfect copies at will and sell them.

The piracy issue is a major obstacle to electronic distribution of feature films to theaters. That's potentially much cheaper than cutting hundreds of film clips and mailing them out to exhibitors, as is done today. But the chance that a computer hacker might intercept the digital stream terrifies the industry.

MMG says its technology could assuage those fears.

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