November 24, 2008 7:32 AM   Subscribe

What is the future of HDCP -- are DVDs likely to adopt it, and is it going to mess me up?

I'm going to buy a laptop, quite possibly as soon as Black Friday, and the new Macbook appears to be the big winner. My only concern now is the new revelation that Apple put HDCP in the new Macbooks, limiting your options on playing protected content on external screens.

This blows but is normally is not an issue for me, because I try like all hell to avoid downloading DRMed content and never shop iTMS, but what's the likelihood that future DVD releases could start putting HDCP protection on them? I anticipate using this as a DVD player while traveling, and I'd hate not to be able to hook it up to a TV or external monitor to watch a movie while on the road.
posted by middleclasstool to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't think there are any technical limitations stopping HDCP from being adopted for standard-definition DVD movies, but that would be unlikely, considering it's inherently meant to protect high-definition content. Also, unless the laptop you buy has HDMI, DVI, or DisplayPort out, it won't matter, because you can't protect analog connections (VGA, S-video, Composite) in the same way that you can digital connections.
posted by joshrholloway at 7:53 AM on November 24, 2008

Well, that's the concern with the Macbook. Mini DisplayPort with built-in HDCP. But no Blu-Ray drive, so I'm guessing that means I'm safe?
posted by middleclasstool at 7:55 AM on November 24, 2008

D'oh. I completely missed that you mentioned you were planning on buying the MacBook. I thought you were just using it as an example.

So in this case, yes you would be safe, because DVDs don't currently use HDCP, and I doubt they will in the future.
posted by joshrholloway at 7:58 AM on November 24, 2008

I'm sure the DVD standard won't adopt HDCP. HDCP demands to have a fully encrypted transport of data from disk to display device, which no DVD player could currently provide. Content makers would be excluding their disc from all existing DVD players.... even Hollywood isn't that dumb.
posted by Steve3 at 8:40 AM on November 24, 2008

I seriously doubt this could happen. Its extremely rare to see a mass adopted format like DVD making changes to its spec so late in its life. Its a hassle with new technology. It would be a nightmare with yesterday's technology and a huge install base.

DVD is not some open and free standard. It uses CSS for encryption. A lot of your rippers simply crack CSS, which is a violation of federal law. If the DVD group wanted to fix this they could change the crypto on CSS, but then every single player would need a firmware update. Supporting HDCP would be a much bigger headache, if its even possible. If people suddenly couldnt play their new DVDs then there would be a riot. Early adopters who have bought bluray suck it up, but they are the exception, not the rule. Dont worry about it.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:11 AM on November 24, 2008

But no Blu-Ray drive, so I'm guessing that means I'm safe?

Im guessing Apple is waiting for the price on bluray to drop before they start producing it for their products. Implementing HDCP now is a smart move if they start selling bluray drives soon. You could just buy one and slip it into the current model with HDCP. Its not a conspiracy to lock down DVDs. I think the DVD consortium have let that ship sail.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:15 AM on November 24, 2008

Im guessing Apple is waiting for the price on bluray to drop before they start producing it for their products. Implementing HDCP now is a smart move if they start selling bluray drives soon.

My hunch is that Apple is taking a longer view of things and trying to hold off implementing any Blu-Ray implementation until absolutely necessary. Hell, the Macbook Air has no optical drive. Apple has a great media delivery system right now in iTunes, yet has inexplicably avoided offering HD content- I can see this hardware-level protection as a studio-mandated requirement for that.
posted by mkultra at 9:26 AM on November 24, 2008

My understanding on the Blu-Ray issue is that the problem is twofold: First, even ignoring the specs on getting a slot-loading BR drive small enough to fit in a MB case, those things suck power, I believe so much that they'd eat up a battery before you finished your movie. Second, there have been rumored disputes between Apple and Sony over the functionality of the drives -- Apple wants them to be able to write to writable Blu-Ray discs, Sony says no, they only want them to be writable to regular CD and DVD discs.
posted by middleclasstool at 11:16 AM on November 24, 2008

Adding to the chorus of never-gonna-happen. You'd have to spit the dvd market into pre-HDCP players and post-HDCP. Retailers would be swamped with returns from people who accidentally bought the HDCP version of a DVD, but only have a pre-HDCP player at home, etc etc.
posted by nomisxid at 6:34 AM on November 25, 2008

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