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Macrovision

 

Macrovision

Rovi Corporation
Public
Traded as ROVI
Industry Digital Entertainment Technology
Founded

1983 (as Macrovision)

2009 (as Rovi Corporation)
Headquarters Santa Clara, California, United States
Key people Tom Carson, (President and CEO)
Stephen Yu, (Executive Vice-President)
Andrew K. Ludwick, (Chairman)
Peter Halt, CPA, (Chief Financial Officer)
Products Media guide and program guide for television
Net income US$14,900,000 (2012-12-31)[1]
Total assets Decrease US$3.2 billion (2012-12-31)
Employees 1500+ (2013)
Website rovicorp.com

Rovi Corporation is a United States-based company that provides guidance technology, entertainment data, copy protection, industry standard networking and media management technology for digital entertainment devices and services. Its customers include consumer electronics manufacturers, cable television and satellite television operators, movie studios and online entertainment portals and content distributors.[2]

Rovi was known as Macrovision Solutions Corporation (Macrovision) until it changed its name in July 2009.[3]

History

Rovi was established under the name Macrovision Corporation in 1983. The 1984 film The Cotton Club was the first video to be encoded with Macrovision technology when it was released in 1985. By the end of the 1980s, most major Hollywood studios were utilizing their services. The technology was extended to DVD players and other consumer electronic recording and playback devices such as digital cable and satellite set-top boxes, digital video recorders, and personal media players. Macrovision subsequently introduced products and services for facilitating access control and secure distribution of other forms of digital media, including music, video games, Web text and graphics, and computer software.

On Feb 28, 2005, Macrovision Corporation announced to restate its financial statements for the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2003, to reflect an understatement of approximately $2.8 million of tax expense.[4]

With the acquisition of Gemstar-TV Guide on May 2, 2008 in a cash-and-stock deal worth about $2.8 billion, the company began developing guidance technology for the TV, Cable and Satellite industry.

After the announcement of the intent to acquire Gemstar-TV Guide, Rovi Corporation completed additional transactions to move its business out of the software licensing market and into the entertainment technology market. On February 14, 2008, Thoma Cressey Bravo and then, Macrovision Corporation announced that an affiliate of TCB had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Macrovision's Software Business Unit in a cash transaction valued at approximately $200 million. The transaction was closed on April 1, 2008. The transaction would convert Macrovision's Software Business Unit into a stand-alone software company following the close of the transaction, which included FLEXnet, InstallShield, Adminstudio family of products. Mark Bishof, Macrovision's Software Business Unit's Executive Vice President and General Manager, would assume the role of CEO for the stand-alone software company following the close of the transaction.[5] On the day the acquisition was completed, the standalone company was named Acresso Software.[6]

Macrovision then divested other areas of its non digital entertainment business, including TryMedia, eMeta, TV Guide Magazine, TV Guide Network and the TV Games Network.

On December 12, 2007, Mars Merger Sub, Inc., merged with and into Macrovision Corporation with Macrovision as the surviving corporation. Galaxy Merger Sub, Inc., merged with and into Gemstar-TV Guide International, Inc., with Gemstar-TV Guide as the surviving corporation, as a result Macrovision and Gemstar-TV Guide becoming the wholly owned subsidiaries of Macrovision Solutions Corporation. The above transactions were closed on May 2, 2008.

The company announced its intention to acquire All Media Guide on November 6, 2007[7] and substantially all the assets of Muze, Inc. on April 15, 2009. Both companies provide entertainment metadata.

On July 16, 2009, Macrovision Solution Corporation announced the official change of its name to Rovi Corporation.[3]

On December 23, 2010, the company announced its intention to acquire Sonic Solutions for its DivX digital video player software.[8]

Technology details

Digital home entertainment

Rovi provides a variety of software and entertainment metadata for consumer electronics and satellite and cable devices. It also provides entertainment metadata to online content distributors such as BestBuy.com, Borders.com and iTunes. Its heritage product is a technology for discouraging the copying of video through analog interfaces of consumer electronic devices. More recently, through its acquisition of various digital entertainment technology companies and assets, Rovi began developing and marketing software components for enabling video playback in consumer devices. Rovi's home entertainment technologies are incorporated into the vast majority of all DVD players, digital cable/satellite set-top boxes, personal computers, Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) and portable media players. Its portfolio of solutions includes content network capabilities, guidance technology, content protection, and entertainment metadata.[9]

Media guide

In July 2009, Rovi introduced a media guide for televisions and other consumer electronic devices. The media guide includes program listings for broadcast and cable TV content; a broadband content guide finding TV and movie content for both free and paid services, Internet video, music and other content on the Internet; and a guide for connecting to consumers' home media collections. The media guide also includes personalization and recommendation capabilities.[10]

Interactive program guide

Rovi provides interactive program guides to both the consumer electronics, satellite and cable market. Its technologies are used in approximately 75 million consumer electronics devices, and by 104 million subscribers worldwide.[11]

Metadata

Rovi also provides entertainment metadata on movies, music, books and games to online distributors and other entertainment portals. The company has over 50 years of entertainment metadata including more than 1 million TV series episodes, more than 1.6 million music albums and 13 million tracks and more than 420,000 movie titles.[12]

Content networking technology

Rovi technology portfolio includes a content networked software for storing, finding, and playing back personal and Internet-based content. The Connect technology is a standards-based software technology for home consumer electronics devices.

Content protection (RipGuard and Analog Copy Protection)

In February 2005, Macrovision introduced its RipGuard technology designed to prevent or reduce digital DVD copying by altering the format of the DVD content to disrupt the ripping software. Although the technology can be circumvented by several current DVD rippers such as AnyDVD or DVDFab, Macrovision claimed that 95% of casual users lack the knowledge and/or determination to be able to copy a DVD with RipGuard technology.[13]

Analog video formats convey video signals as a series of “lines.” Most of these lines are used for constructing the visible image, and are shown on screen. But several more exist which do not convey visual information. Known as the vertical blanking interval (VBI), these extra lines historically served no purpose other than to contain the vertical syncronising pulses, but in more modern implementations are used to carry convey different things in different countries, for example closed captioning.

Macrovision's legacy analog copy protection (ACP) works by implanting a series of excessive voltage pulses within the offscreen VBI lines of video.  These pulses are included physically within pre-existing recordings on VHS and Betamax, and generated upon playback by a chip in DVD players and digital cable/satellite boxes.  A DVD recorder receiving an analog signal featuring these pulses will detect them and display a message saying that the source is "copy-protected", followed by aborting the recording.  VCRs, in turn, will react to these excessive voltage pulses by compensating with their automatic gain control circuitry, causing the recorded picture to wildly change brightness, rendering it unwatchable.  The system was only effective on VCRs made at around the mid 1980s and newer.

A later form of Macrovision's analog copy protection, called Level II ACP, introduced multiple 180 degree phase inversions to the analog signal's colorburst. Also known as colorstriping, this technology caused numerous off-color bands to appear within the picture. A later variant, Level III ACP, simply added more phase inversions, increasing the number of color stripes visible on screen.

Another form of analog copy protection, known as CGMS-A, is added by DVD players and digital cable/satellite boxes. While not invented by Macrovision, the company's products implement it. CGMS-A consists of a "flag" within the vertical blanking interval (essentially data, like closed captioning) which digital recording devices search for. If present, they refuse to record the signal, just as with the earlier ACP technology. Unlike digital recording equipment, however, analog VCRs do not respond to CGMS-A encoded video and will record it successfully if ACP is not also present.

Historically, the original Macrovision technology was considered a nuisance to some specialist users because it could interfere with other electronic equipment. For example, if one were to run their video signal through a VCR before the television, some VCRs will output a ruined signal regardless of whether it is recording. This also occurs in some TV-VCR combo sets. Apart from this, many DVD recorders mistake the mechanical instability of worn videotapes for Macrovision signals, and so refuse to make what would be perfectly legal DVD dubs of people's old home movies and the like. This widespread problem is another factor contributing to the demand for devices that defeat Macrovision. The signal has also been known to confuse home theater line doublers (devices for improving the quality of video for large projection TVs) and some high-end television comb filters. In addition, Macrovision confuses many upconverters (devices that convert a video signal to a higher resolution), causing them to shut down and refuse to play Macrovision content.

Some DVD players give the user the option of disabling the Macrovision technology. This is possible since the signal is not stored on the DVD itself; instead commercial DVDs contain an instruction to the player to create such a signal during playback. Some DVD players can be configured to ignore such instructions.

There are also devices called stabilizers, video stabilizers or enhancers available that filter out the Macrovision spikes and thereby defeat the system. The principle of their function lies in detecting the vertical synchronization signal, and forcing the lines occurring during the vertical blanking interval to black level, removing the AGC-confusing pulses. They can be easily built by hobbyists, as nothing more than a cheap microcontroller together with an analog multiplexer and a little other circuitry is needed. Individuals less experienced with such things can purchase video stabilizers.

Discs made with DVD copying programs such as DVD Shrink automatically disable any Macrovision copy protection. The ease with which Macrovision and other copy protection measures can be defeated has prompted a steadily growing number of DVD releases that do not have copy protection of any kind, CSS or Macrovision.

United States fair use law, as interpreted in the decision over Betamax (Sony Corp. v. Universal City Studios), dictates that consumers are fully within their legal rights to copy videos they own. However, the legality has changed somewhat with the controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act. After April 26, 2002, no VCR may be manufactured or imported without Automatic Gain Control circuitry (which renders VCRs vulnerable to Macrovision). This is contained in title 17, section 1201(k) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. However, there are a number of mostly older VCR models on the market that are not affected by Macrovision.

On October 26, 2001, the sale, purchase, or manufacture of any device that has no commercial purpose other than disabling Macrovision copy protection was made illegal under section 1201(a) of the same controversial act.

In June 2005, Macrovision sent a cease and desist letter to "Lightning UK!", the maker of DVD Decrypter, a program that allows users to back up their DVDs by bypassing CSS and Macrovision. They later acquired the rights to this software.[14]

In June 2005, Macrovision sued Sima Products under section 1201 of the DMCA, claiming that Sima's video processors provided a way to circumvent Macrovision's analog copy protection. Sima received an injunction barring the sale of this device,[15] but the parties ultimately settled without a judgment on the legal issues.[16]

Acquisitions

As Macrovision

  • In 2000, Macrovision acquired Globetrotter, creators of the FLEXlm, which was subsequently renamed Flexnet.[17]
  • In 2002, Macrovision acquired Israeli company Midbar Technologies, developers of the Cactus Data Shield music copy protection solution for $17 million. Additionally the same year, Macrovision acquired all the music copy protection and digital rights management (DRM) assets of TTR Technologies (formerly NASDAQ listed under the ticker TTRE).[18]
  • In 2004, Macrovision acquired InstallShield, creators of installation authoring software (later divested to private equity).
  • In 2005, Macrovision acquired the intellectual property rights to DVD Decrypter from its developer.[14]
  • In 2005, Macrovision acquired ZeroG Software, creators of InstallAnywhere (direct competition to InstallShield MP (MultiPlatform)), and Trymedia Systems.
  • In 2006, Macrovision acquired eMeta.
  • On January 1, 2007, Macrovision acquired Mediabolic, Inc.[19]
  • On November 6, 2007, Macrovision announced its intention to acquire All Media Guide.[20]
  • On December 7, 2007, Macrovision announced an agreement to acquire Gemstar-TV Guide[21] and completed the purchase on August 5, 2008.
  • On December 19, 2007, Macrovision purchased BD+ DRM technology from Cryptography Research, Inc.
  • On April 15, 2009, Macrovision announced that it has acquired substantially all of the assets of Muze, Inc.[22]

As Rovi

  • On March 16, 2010, Rovi acquired Recommendations Service MediaUnbound.[23]
  • On December 23, 2010, Rovi announced its intention to acquire Sonic Solutions.[24]
  • On March 1, 2011, Rovi acquired SideReel.[25]
  • On May 5, 2011, Rovi acquired DigiForge.[26]
  • In 2012, Rovi acquired Snapstick.

See also

References

Notes

Further Reference

  • Fil's FAQ-Link-In Corner: MacroVision FAQ
  • MPAA | DVD Frequently Asked Questions
  • Columbia ISA: Macrovision Details
  • Macrovision Agrees to Sell Software Unit (expired link)
  • Realnetworks Acquires Game Distributor From Macrovision
  • [1]
  • Rovi Acquires DigiForge
  • Rovi Corporation Appoints Thomas Carson as President and Chief Executive Officer [2]

External links

  • Archived Macrovision page
  • Rovi Corporation | Stock Quote
  • Howstuffworks: "How does copy protection on a video tape work?"
  • Ars Technica: "Digitizing video signals might violate the DMCA"
  • Should Non Standard Copy Protected DVD Video Discs be labeled as “DVD Video Compatible Discs”?
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