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Managed copy in the works for HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc

One of the biggest arguments against digital rights management (DRM) is that it restricts users from doing what they wish with the media for which they’ve paid. For owners of high-definition movie players, such restrictions may soon be a little lighter.

The Advanced Access Content System Licensing Administration (AACS LA) says that it is now working to provide “managed copy” features on the media that uses its protection technology. HD DVD had plans to implement managed copy as part of its specification – a main reason why Microsoft and Intel stood behind the format – but Blu-ray Disc had thus far ignored the concept.

The final version of AACS will supposedly introduce methods for users to legally copy their high definition media. For example, a user may wish to copy a movie from his PC HD DVD drive onto his network for play on his PVR – and with managed copy, he may now do that without breaking copyright.

“The final version will include things like managed copy – which will address the main thing that hackers claim they're interested in,” said Michael Ayers, spokesperson for the AACS LA, to HDTVUK.

Currently, those who wish to do more with their HD content other than just play it straight off the disc must resort to using hacker-discovered processing keys or similar software, which are used to completely defeat the AACS protection.

Although the AACS LA’s plans to introduce a little freedom to HD media by giving users a legal way to copy their movies, the technicalities surrounding just how to accomplish that are still unclear.

“The structure of managed copy, how it's technically going to work, what will the rules and conditions for the offer of a managed copy be — part of it is just understanding the rights in offering a managed copy, the rights a content owner may or may not have,” explains Ayers. “Potentially, you could have a situation where somebody has the right to distribute on disc, but nothing else; or, the distribution rights are limited to a specific region or continent.”

Movie studios may elect to adjust its pricing on titles with managed copy. It would be an undesirable situation if movies with managed copy carried a premium over those without such rights – but the AACS is looking in the other direction, hoping that managed copy features will increase sales and acceptance of high-definition optical media.

“Studios will have to take that into account when they select pricing,” Ayers said to IDG. “We are optimistic that the studios will see this as a benefit that will drive sales.”

For current owners of high-definition movies and players, the change to managed copy will not be transparent. An upgrade to new AACS version 0.93 software will likely be required, either through an Internet connection or other means.





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