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Known officially as "MPEG 4", DivX is a format for digitized video that is has exploded in the past few years since 2001. Why is DivX popular? Because it allows people to make condensed high-quality video (as opposed to the decent-but-flawed format of RealVideo) that can be played full-screen on your PC…and traded over the Net, in the same manner as MP3. And just as the music industry is throwing a fit over the existence of MP3, so Hollywood is terrified of the potential of DivX. The first hints at an upcoming revolution of bootleg movies being traded worldwide are already in existence…and we'll be seeing more of this in the very near future. Signs of the upcoming battle have already been seen, with such landmarks as the lawsuit and judgement against hacker magazine 2600 for its publicized hosting of DeCSS, the software written especially for "ripping" DVDs and allowing them to be converted to a more portable format, such as DivX. Is it right to rip bootleg DVDs and distribute them over the Net? That's copyright infringement and piracy, of course…but there are many legal uses for a portable high-quality video format as well, and this is what makes DivX so useful. (This version of "Divx" has no relation to Circuit City's failed attempt to foist a pay-per-view DVD system upon the public.)

DivX has become heavily commercialized recently, and expensive DivX players are all the rage now. The freeware codec for Windows' own media player can be a little hard to find, so here's a direct link to it: