The likely format battle between HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc is bad enough for those eagerly awaiting the availability of favorite movies on high definition video discs, but soon there could be another reason to switch to a new format: many current HDTVs might be restricted to showing the movies in standard definition.
An industry group is set to rule soon whether millions of HDTV homes will be able to use their existing TV sets or have to buy new sets to watch the movies in high definition. The potential problem is centered on the way customers will connect one of the new HD video disc players to their televisions–or rather, the way that Hollywood wants them to connect, according to representatives of several consumer electronics companies at the Ceatec exhibition here this week.
Content owners, such as movie studios and broadcasters, want the High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) connection that is only now becoming a common feature on HDTVs. It’s favored because the all-digital connection includes copy protection that makes it difficult to break into the video signal when it makes its way from the player to the TV set.
The problem is that millions of HDTV sets already in people’s homes don’t have HDMI sockets and use older analog methods to transfer video. Analog signals are much easier to tap into than digital signals and so pose a potential threat to studios because movie pirates could use them to copy the content. That would defeat several layers of antipiracy measures that have been built into both formats, HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc.
A decision on whether to allow high-definition over analog connections is expected sometime in October or November and will be made by the group behind the Advanced Access Content System (AACS) content protection system.
It seems that Hollywood still didn’t learn that no matter what anti-piracy techniques they’ll come out with, it is just a matter of time until someone will crack it, so give us a break and let consumers backup their movies for fair use.