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Appeared on: Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Hollywood May Dump Downscaling of HD Content

It seems that Sony's decision to allow the majority of Blu-ray content to play at the highest resolution possible on a consumer's HDTV is gaining support from major Hollywood studios.

Both Blu-ray and HD DVD would allow for content holders to force image quality degradation onto users whose TVs lacked a secure HD input, such as the HDMI. The result would be a video output that would be far away from the promised "High Definition", downscaled to something less than 720p. Hollywood studios believe that this function would be an efficient way to fight content piracy.

Don Eklund, SPHE's senior vice president for advanced technologies, said two weeks ago that Sony's initial Blu-ray discs "and all of its Blu-ray titles for the foreseeable future" will be free of the "Image Constraint Token" (ICT) or "analog sunset" technologies that's built into the AACS standards for Blu-ray and HD DVD.

Following Sony's decision, 20th Century Fox (NWS), Disney (DIS), and Paramount (VIA) say they initially will not use the new copy protection on their releases. According to BusinessWeek.com, Universal will forego the protection too. Concerning the HD DVD releases, Warner Brothers will most likely be releasing some of its announced HD-DVD titles through April that will use the content protection software.

Sony and other consumer-electronics companies have also added the "upconvert" function to the next-generation players, in an effort to boost the image quality. However, to make the same disk look different after upconversion to HD resolutions would require a TV set of minimum 50 inches.

Toshiba, the main backer of the rival HD DVD format, has not made any official announcement regarding the use of the ICT function. The company may follow Sony's policy.


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