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MacBooks enter a golden new age of anti-piracy cruft: HDCP for all

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It has come to pass that HDCP – High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (or, in this case, DisplayPort Content Protection) – is now built into the new MacBooks to protect iTunes Store media. Most of the content is not protected but it seems some newer videos are, which means you can’t play them over a non-HDCP compliant TV or monitor.

While many of us just use the screen or iPods to watch the potentially protected films, this could have ramifications for those wanting to connect their laptops up to TVs without HDMI or DVI ports – namely TVs with only VGA or component/composite ports. It could also have ramifications on the Apple TV in situations where users have odd TV set-ups.

What is HDCP? It’s essentially a digital standard that tells your OS what you can display content on. If you connect your device to a project, as one high school teacher discovered while trying to play an iTunes video, the HDCP system will stop video from streaming to that device. If you connect it to an HDCP-compliant monitor then you’re in luck.

As someone who often and with great gusto downloads from the iTunes store – I have to pay for something sometime, right? – HDCP is just one more thing that will make me rethink this plan. As a Mactard, I’ve found that iTunes is the easiest way to grab goodies but with Amazon coming up behind I might be swayed. Oh, and the video in question? Hellboy 2? Do a quick search on ThePirateBay. I’m sure you’ll find it in non-HDCP encrypted format.

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