Connecting Systems To Displays: Apple DRM Double-Speak?
As I wrote at length a few days ago, DRM is at the core (pun intended) of Apple's hopes for long-term consumer electronics dominance, both on-the-go with various iPod flavours and, now, in the home with Apple TV. However, if a recent posting on Boing Boing is accurate (and I have solid respect for Cory Doctorow and, therefore, would tend to believe his sources until convinced otherwise), Apple's left exposed an interesting Achilles Heel in its DRM flowchart.
According to Cory's source at an MPAA member company, Apple TV's HDMI digital video output does not incorporate HDCP content protection. My recent cover story and its web addendums point out that HDCP support is not a requirement for HDMI certification….and that HDCP's presence typically is the root cause of consumers' problems with HDMI. So Apple's decision isn't terribly surprising, from tech support burden and customer-return standpoints. But regardless of whether or not Apple TV down-rezzes the component video analog outputs for HD source material, an unprotected digital video output opens the door to studio-undesireable, bit-accurate, FairPlay DRM-free duplication of that source material, both SD and HD, and both video and accompanying audio.
Can any of you in-the-know readers confirm whether or not Apple TV's HDMI output is HDCP-free? This possibility is particularly interesting, in my mind, in light of the fact that the currently-shipping Xbox 360, which has become a popular movie delivery vehicle, has no HDMI output and is therefore similarly DRM-free (well, at least for the moment).