Blog Post

MacBook Owners Up In Arms About New Copyright Software

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

imageApple (NSDQ: AAPL) is bundling a form of copyright protection software into new MacBooks that has some buyers up in arms. Called High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP), the technology prevents MacBook owners from playing movies they’ve purchased through iTunes on many external monitors, TVs or projectors — meaning they’re stuck watching flicks they’ve paid for on much smaller screens.

HDCP is designed to prevent film piracy by blocking the connection between a computer and a copying device (like a DVR). The problem is that legitimate devices like TVs — particularly older units — also get blocked in the process. It also doesn’t help that manufacturers like Apple, Panasonic and Sony aren’t forthcoming about which products they’re adding the technology to. Even Microsoft’s Vista and Windows Media Center have varying degrees of HDCP compliance.

Wired says *Intel* bowed the technology back in 2001, but Apple began quietly embedding it in new MacBooks this year as a way to appease Hollywood studios wary of licensing content to iTunes. Since iTunes files get downloaded right to a user’s hard drive, a film could feasibly be burned to a DVD and recopied ad nauseum. Analysts say that’s why the iTunes movie library is anemic in comparison to the libraries of Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) or Vudu — which don’t let users store the files. Apple hasn’t released any statements addressing the issue.

2 Responses to “MacBook Owners Up In Arms About New Copyright Software”

  1. Jamie Poitra

    Should be noted that the Wired article is essentially inaccurate that this has anything to do with the fact that iTunes files are stored on the person's computer. iTunes video files that are purchased have DRM built into them. You couldn't transfer them anyway.

    So are videos on any given DVR. Even streaming files are generally stored local somewhere. This simply blocks the videos from showing on any device that doesn't have an HDCP chip. What's funny is that we all know its only a matter of time before the protection offered by HDCP is basically non existent. Someone will figure out a way to trick it if they haven't already.

    That said there are already numerous ways to capture the audio and video from a file back onto you drive effectively bypassing the protection since the resulting file wouldn't have any DRM and HDCP would then allow it to play on any device.

    The whole thing is, Mario says, ridiculous. Those who are determined to steal content are going to continue doing so. And for those of us who actually purchase it, this kind of thing is simply an unnecessary nuisance.