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Threat of low-res HD fades as Hollywood backs away from ICT

May 25th, 2006 · No Comments

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Sony und Microsoft unterlaufen Kopierschutz – Netzwelt – SPIEGEL ONLINE – Nachrichten

It’s beginning to look like the Image Constraint Token (aka ICT) is never going to be used in anger. The German daily newspaper Der Spiegel has carried a report (click the link above) that Hollywood will not invoke the feature, used to down-rez the output from a player or deck to mere DVD quality, at least until 2010.
The Draconian technology, derided by some studios (Fox) yet championed as an anti-piracy measure by others (Warner), does no one any favours.
If the report is accurate, I suspect the final nail in the ICT coffin has been Sony’s two-tier hardware strategy for the PlayStation3. At E3, the games giant confirmed that its entry level console will sport only component video outputs for high definition video. Given that the has always been considered the secret weapon essential to defeat rival HD DVD, the prospect of having a large percentage of the PS3 owning population unable to play BD HD movie content would have been enough to cool the jets of even the most pedantic ICT studio advocate.
The (possible) death of ICT is good news for everyone. It opens back up the early adopter market who leapt to buy HD-capable flatscreens before HDMI and DVI connectivity with HDCP was envisaged, and it removes at least one reason for the consumer to distrust the squabbling next generation disc systems.
Come 2010, the entire issue will probably be seen as irrelevant.
If the PS3 is a success (some think it might be) then the player population will be too large for studio bosses to disenfranchise by invoking ICT anyway. And then there’s all those owners with HD DVD drives, which also connect only via component, to consider.
Of course, the ability to deploy ICT on high-def movie discs remains with studios. Both HD DVD and Blu-ray employ AACS copy protection, whose compliancy rules have shifted the decision to enable HD via component entirely to Hollywood.
Mark Knox, from the HD DVD promotional group says that in reality there‚Äôs no copy-protection risk by allowing HD via component, and that studios will learn to live without it. “AACS copy-protection is robust enough to thwart piracy anyway,” he says.
“AACS makes it possible for an individual frame of a pirated HD movie to betray the specific ID key for the player used to produce it (and every player is different!). By studying a sequence of frames, studios can determine which key was used to decode the video, even if the footage has been re-encoded to analogue video. Once known, a key blocker can be implemented on all future disc releases, which means that the machine used to produce the illegal copy is forever prohibited from playing a new disc.” By Steve May

Tags: HD DVD and Blu-ray · Trade

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