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Digital Video Express (Divx)

Contributor(s): B.K. Chia

No longer sold, Divx (Digital Video Express) was a video movie rental system for digital versatile disk -formatted disks. For about $300-500 U.S., the user purchased a DVD player that was also equipped for Divx. The special Divx equipment included a modem , a encryption microchip , and a proprietary flash memory . The user could then purchase Divx disks (essentially DVD-formatted disks that contained encrypted data) at a Circuit City or other store. Each disk allowed the user the right to play the disk within 48 hours of hitting the Play button on the player. (Users could elect to pay more for unlimited play any time.) At home, the user established a Divx account at the Divx Web site using a major credit card. The player automatically contacted the billing office once a month to update the account. (This is the only time Internet access was required. The movie was then actually played offline from the DVD-with-Divx disk.)

Divx was developed and owned by a partnership between Ziffren, Brittenham, Banca & Fischer, an entertainment law firm in Los Angeles, California, and Circuit City, one of the largest retail stores for consumer electronics in the U.S. A number of consumer groups were opposed to Divx, arguing that its system would encourage a pay-per-play mindset among content owners rather than selling the disk and letting the consumer play it as frequently as desired. In any event, as DVD disks became widely available, it was clear that consumers would prefer to own rather than rent, and Circuit City Stores withdrew the service and wrote off the investment.

This was last updated in March 2011

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