HDCP . . .

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If you bought an expensive video card recently, Firing Squad has some bad news for you. Firing Squad has some bad news for you.

It turns out that no video card on the market today will support HDCP when its finally implemented, even though some kind of claim it will. HDCP is a standard you’re going to need to view HD-standard video from Hollywood. And, no, it can’t be fixed later on with a flash.

What does that mean? To quote the article, “If you’ve just spent $1000 on a pair of Radeon X1900 XT graphics cards expecting to be able to playback HD-DVD or Blu-Ray movies at 1920×1080 resolution in the future, you’ve just wasted your money. . . . [I]f you just spent $1500 on a pair of 7800GTX 512MB GPUs expecting to be able to play 1920×1080 HD-DVD or Blu-Ray movies in the future, you’ve just wasted your money.”

Why is this? Well, all the standards necessary for HDCP have not been finalized, and, since these standards are built into the chips, it has to be done when the card is made, and, well, you can’t implement what isn’t there yet.

Given that, we might add that if this is true for every video card out there, it’s likely also true for XBox 360, and may well be true for early PS3.

To say the obvious, if this matters at all to you, don’t buy (or buy something cheap for the short term) until you can buy the real deal.

HDCP? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ HDCP!

Of course, there are those who think that the lack of HDCP is a feature.

The wailing has already started, in the articles, in the comments and forums, and every reason in the world except the real one will be cited as arguments against these standards.

That, of course, is thieves don’t like anti-theft devices. Period, end of story, and spare me and the world the sophistry and the fig-leafs. No one who counts is listening, and for good reason.

No matter what the argument is, Hollywood has a one word answer for it, “Tough.”

And if your answer to that is, “I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever buy or see another movie again, and no one else will, either” well, Hollywood’s answer is “Go for it!” They think this is one big bluff, and they’re calling it. I think you and those who think like you are going to find out how important you aren’t in the real world, despite what you tell each other. It’s a life lesson many desperately need to learn.

How breakable will these new encryption standards be? If I had to guess, they will be breakable, but it will be a lot harder than breaking CSS proved to be, not something the average person can do at home, and will be something people who do it will want to be paid for.

I could be wrong, but at this point, it’s probably worth pointing out that if your machine isn’t HDCP-compliant, the only HD-sourced video you will be seeing will either be pirated or degraded 640X480 signals.

This is Hollywood seriously jumping into the copyright wars, and it will be a long one. The root problem is that current copyright laws are ill-suited to the digital era, but everyone seriously interested in the subject is insane on the issue, and government is completely inept.

That isn’t going to change any time soon.

Ed


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