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Next-generation DVD to use HDTV output until 2011

An outline of the implementation regulations for the Advanced Access Content System (AACS), the copyright management scheme to be used by Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD, has been announced, Nikkei Electronics Asia reports.

For discs sold in Japan and certain other specified regions, there will be no restrictions imposed on high-definition television (HDTV) signal output to analogue terminals, such as "D" terminals. This is a temporary measure, however, until 2010, and from 2011 output to "D" terminals will be severely restricted.

There is considerable argument over whether or not players will include a function to disable HDTV output to D3/D4 terminals (analogue restrict function), which do not have effective copy protection technology, between the film-making industry and the equipment manufacturers.

As of November 2005, the personal computer group (headed by firms like Intel Corp and Microsoft Corp, both of the US) and the movie industry (including companies like Warner Bros Entertainment Inc of the US) were pressuring the equipment manufacturers to incorporate an analogue restrict function.

Many equipment manufacturers in Japan, where TV sets without digital terminals are common, have been fiercely resisting the proposal, and finally won a compromise to keep the analog limit function out of Japan.

Now that the issue has been resolved, an interim license of the AACS copyright management scheme for next-generation optical discs can now be provided.

Many of the advanced features of the AACS specification – such as "managed copy," which would let consumers move DVD content onto other devices like portable playback machine – will not be enabled in this release of the still-incomplete interim specification. The final standard, likely to include this managed copy feature, will be released later in 2006.

Japanese equipment manufacturers can relax for a while now that restrictions on output to "D" terminals have been avoided. It seems unlikely, however, that it will be possible to avoid implementing restrictions on output to analogue terminals in 2011.

Equipment manufactured from 1 January 2011 will be unable to output HDTV video to analogue terminals. It seems likely that equipment sold in both 2010 and 2011 will require some type of mechanism to disable HDTV video output in 2011. And from 1 January 2014, video output to analogue terminals will be forbidden entirely.

Story filed 28.02.06

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