HDCP may not be necessary until after 2010

In the plethora of copy protection schemes, the most recent one that has come to light is the Image Constraint Token, which exists to penalize viewers who use component or composite signals rather than truly digital signals. 

The Image Constraint Token (ICT) was the solution to upcoming copy protection woes.  The token would force video players that do not support HDCP over DVI-HDCP, HDMI, UDI or DisplayPort to down-grade the signal.  Currently, analog technologies allow a viewer to place a device between the image source and display, and essentially record the signal.  HDCP attempts to block that by forcing the source and the display to authenticate each other -- eliminating the man-in-the-middle approach.  ICT goes one step further, by handicapping the signal at a lower resolution.  With ICT, even if the user manages to record the analog signal, the resolution is significantly lower. 

According to Spiegel Online, movie studios have secretly agreed to not implement such an analog resolution downgrade until after 2010 (English). If an analog HD interface is used, such as HD component, users will still be able to watch their HD movies in full high resolution. This agreement completely bypasses the requirement of HDCP enabled devices for a few more years.

Spiegel reports the deal exists to help the industry transition to HDMI, though it seems clear the PC industry leaders have already agreed on the royalty-free DisplayPort alternative.  HDMI actually has quite a bit of support for the home theater market, but due to the royalties involved there have been virtually no video card nor PC display manufacturers anxious enough to adopt HDMI either -- although Abit recently announced a motherboard with integrated HDMI and ATI does have the upcoming RS690 chipset with native HDMI support as well.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

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