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For the video codec, see DivX. For the company, see DivX, Inc. Circuit City and the entertainment law firm Ziffren, Brittenham, Branca and Fischer to create an alternative to video rental in the United States. 50, which was watchable for up to 48 hours from its initial viewing. After this period, the disc could be viewed by paying a continuation fee to play it for two more days. Viewers who wanted to watch a disc an unlimited number of times could convert the disc to a “DIVX silver” disc for an additional fee.
Each DIVX disc was marked with a unique barcode in the burst cutting area that could be read by the player, and used to track the discs. The status of the discs was monitored through an account over a phone line. DIVX player owners had to set up an account with DIVX to which additional viewing fees could be charged. DIVX discs used Triple DES encryption and an alternative channel modulation coding scheme, which prevented them from being read in standard DVD players.
Because of widespread studio support, manufacturers anticipated that demand for the units would be high. The initial trial of the DIVX format was run in the San Francisco and Richmond, California, areas starting on June 8, 1998. Initially only a single Zenith player was available, along with 19 titles. DIVX was sold primarily through the Circuit City, Good Guys, Ultimate Electronics, and Future Shop retailers. By March 1999, around 419 titles were available in the DIVX format.
A movement on the Internet was initiated against DIVX, particularly in home theater forums. The DIVX catalog of titles was released primarily in pan and scan format with limited special features, usually only a trailer. In addition to the hostile Internet response, competitors such as Hollywood Video ran advertisements touting the benefits of “Open DVD” over DIVX, with one ad in the Los Angeles Times depicting a hand holding a telephone line with the caption, “Don’t let anyone feed you the line. Informational freedom advocates were concerned that the players’ “dial-home” ability could be used to spy on people’s watching habits. The format was discontinued on June 16, 1999, because of the costs of introducing the format, as well as its very limited acceptance by the general public. It was shot down by Blockbuster Video stores not wanting to carry it.