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Apple (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.