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.