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Movies on the Small Screen

Makers of digital organizers have long promised that we’ll be able to use their portable gadgets to view premium video content, such as current films and television shows. Movie studios and other copyright owners have not been terribly cooperative, though, holding back their content and citing the lack of reliable antipiracy technology. Now there’s a way around this impasse: this spring, San Francisco startup Mazingo Network is launching the first system that delivers copy-protected video to handhelds. As a result, people will finally be able to watch copyrighted movies and TV shows on the devices’ small screens. Video playback is “one of the best features of the Pocket PC,” says Bill Dettering, Mazingo’s founder and chief technology officer.

The system-designed for Pocket PC devices from Compaq, Casio and others-is built around software that adds decryption capabilities to PocketTV, a widely used (and free) program for viewing video on a mobile device. Mazingo’s subscription-based service transmits both video files and a decryption certificate to a Pocket PC. If the certificate matches an ID embedded in the device, playback begins. This approach wasn’t possible until recently, since the the previous generation of Pocket PC devices lacked unique IDs.

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