[opendtv] Apple brings HDCP to a new aluminum MacBook near you

  • From: Monty Solomon <monty@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: undisclosed-recipient:;
  • Date: Wed, 19 Nov 2008 00:15:42 -0500


Apple brings HDCP to a new aluminum MacBook near you

By David Chartier | Published: November 17, 2008 - 03:52PM CT
Ars Technica

High Definition Content Protection (HDCP)-you can't live with it, but
you practically can't buy an HD-capable device anymore without it.
While HDCP is typically used in devices like Blu-ray players, HDTVs,
HDMI-enabled notebooks, and even the Apple TV in order to keep DRMed
content encrypted between points A and B, it appears that Apple's new
aluminum MacBook (and presumably the MacBook Pro) are using it to
protect iTunes Store media as well.

When my friend John, a high school teacher, attempted to play Hellboy
2 on his classroom's projector with a new aluminum MacBook over
lunch, he was denied by the error you see above. John's using a Mini
DisplayPort-to-VGA adapter, plugged into a Sanyo projector that is
part of his room's Promethean system. Strangely, only some iTunes
Store movies appear to be HDCP-aware, as other purchased media like
Stargate: Continuum and Heroes season 2 play through the projector
just fine. Attempts to play Hellboy 2 or other HDCPed films through
the projector via QuickTime also get denied. Other movies that don't
work include newer films like Iron Man, Star Wars: Clone Wars, and
Love Guru, but older films like Shawshank Redemption are restricted
as well.

The technology in Apple's MacBooks that prevents a seemingly
arbitrary collection of iTunes Store files from being played on HDCP
non-compliant devices is perhaps more accurately called DPCP, or
DisplayPort Content Protection. As we've covered in the past,
DisplayPort was designed as an open, extensible standard for
computers that offers lower power consumption over DVI (especially in
the Mini DisplayPort format that Apple uses on the new MacBooks). But
more importantly, DisplayPort also beats DVI in the studios' books by
offering the option of 128-bit AES encrypted copy protection.

All of the tested files are wrapped in the same iTunes Store FairPlay
Version 3 DRM, save for Stargate: Continuum, which John says has
version 2. While Apple's own Apple TV has used HDCP to protect video
files playing from its HDMI port, this is the first time we've heard
of Apple bringing HDCP DPCP to its hardware. (It has, however, been
brought to our attention that other users have been complaining about
this in Apple's discussion forums for a couple of weeks.)

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