June 10, 2009 | By Peter Eckersley

Hollywood drives us into the "Analog Sunset"

As Blu-ray.com reports, the AACS licensing authority has released the "Final Adopter Agreement" it plans to enforce against consumer electronics companies that make BluRay players (and any other AACS devices that come along). Buried inside that 188 page document is a plan to eliminate analog video... forever. BluRay device makers will have to restrict analog outputs to low resolution first: Analog Sunset – 2010. With the exception of Existing Models,
any Licensed Player manufactured after December 31, 2010 shall
limit analog video outputs for Decrypted AACS Content to SD
Interlace Modes [composite video, s-video, 480i component video and 576i video] only.

On the last day of 2013, analog outputs will be banned on BluRay players: Analog Sunset – 2013. No Licensed Player that passes Decrypted
AACS Content to analog video outputs may be manufactured or
sold by Adopter after December 31, 2013.

Those of you thinking that you'll be safe so long as you buy your BluRay players before these manufacture deadlines, don't be so sure. Mandatory down-rezzing on analog outputs can be forced by Hollywood on a disc-by-disc basis on all BluRay players, regardless of manufacture date, using the "Image Constraint Token" (although rumor has it that ICT discs won't appear before 2010).

AACS is essentially a tax on legitimate consumers, paid both in convenience (oops, your new BluRay player won't output high-def to your old flat screen TV) and in lost innovation (consider, for example, the fate of RealDVD and Kaleidescape in the DVD context). We've even heard that Hollywood's own mastering engineers have had to resort to software like Slysoft AnyDVD HD to circumvent AACS and BD+ restrictions in order to do their work.

These restrictions are particularly galling because they will have absolutely no impact on "piracy," since the AACS/BD+ system used on BluRay has already been broken and the movie studios themselves admit that high quality copies can be made by camcording from a TV.

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