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Mixed Signals

Feb 21st, 2005
HD-DVD outputs and piracy

It's been a few weeks since CES and I've been getting some mixed signals concerning the availability of full bandwidth component video outputs on HD-DVD players.

One writer for a well-known home theater magazine wrote that only HDCP-compliant HDMI outputs would be offered. This is not what we want to read. But an industry insider shared his view that - based on conversations he's had within the industry - it's very likely that the analog video connections will be included on both HD-DVD and Blu-ray players. Who's right?

Since product was shown at CES, even if it might have been a pre-production prototype, to be ready for manufacturing in time for the fall holiday buying season, surely the design must be locked in by now. I got in touch with Toshiba to again try to get a confirmation of the player's output specifications. On February 13th, I received a reply from a Toshiba representative that was not very revealing, ". . . it is not yet defined if analog component video outputs will be included on Toshiba's HD DVD players, as copy protection is still under discussion."

So is seems that film studios are still concerned with piracy and closing the "analog hole" while, perhaps, consumer electronics companies are concerned about the backlash from the installed base of HD-ready displays unless the "analog hole" is left open. One would think that the battle in courts being won by the studios might be enough.

It was reported a few days after I received the message from Toshiba that a Dallas federal court shut down LokiTorrent.com, a notorious file-sharing site. Just as significant, the court ordered the site to provide the studios with its log files. That data could help identify individuals who violated copyright laws and make them vulnerable to lawsuits. LokiTorrent is not the first file-swapping site to fall before the legal offensive waged by the MPAA. And rightfully bolstered by these successes, the MPAA is moving ahead with suits against other file swapping sites. Suits against individuals cannot be far behind.

I applaud the MPAA for going after the violators and the sites that support them. What swappers and file-swapping sites do not appreciate is that their actions are equivalent to killing the goose that lays the golden egg. With the costs of producing, advertising, and distributing film rising to astronomical levels - hundreds of millions of dollars - and with broadband service growing exponentially, such piracy could eat sufficiently into motion picture profitability to jeopardize the production of the big budget films that dazzle. And we all enjoyed being dazzled.

I can only hope that the MPAA finds its victories sufficiently reassuring to support HD-ready display owners with the analog video connections they need to enjoy the HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc formats in all their expected glory.

Related Articles:

High Definition DVD Dilemmas, January 2, 2005
Blu-ray Disc vs. HD-DVD, February 14, 2005