Defective by Design

35 Days Against DRM — Day 13: HDTV

Submitted by mattl on Thu, 2008-12-18 15:23

Confessions of a HDTV Shop Employee

HDTV is a countdown to obsolete hardware, with the unintended (or maybe just unpublicized) side effect being that viewers have fewer options, since all-digital technology can be more easily restricted. Today, we present an anonymous tale from a shop employee of some of the problems around digital TV -- how consumers are being sold on the idea of HDTV, what that means for censorship and DRM.

Photo credit: Velkro at Flickr, CC-BY-SA

The four major broadcast networks are all supporting HDTV because it needs to be transmitted from a digital transmitter -- without the proper authorization, digital signals will not even be allowed to be seen on the screen or heard from the speakers.

If independent voices are not allowed, Big Media can essentially censor any voices or images it does not like -- they will have more control, because of the digital nature of the broadcasts.

When the home theater market exploded around 2000, there were no cumbersome formats, only a couple of types of cable connections, and no digital restrictions. You could connect any DVD player to any TV, and it would work. Today, with HDMI and DVI connections, the risk of planned incompatibility is very high.

We've already seen what HDMI can do on the MacBook. The Big Media companies, with the networks they own, are now attempting to close the analog hole in any way possible.

Take action!

  • Remember -- digital TV and HDTV are unrelated. You do not need HDTV to watch digital TV.

  • Don't buy any device that supports HDMI and HDCP -- this trap from Intel specifically refuses to allow you to playback certain HD content on a monitor that is 'too good'

  • HDfury

  • Keep your old CRT TV, DVD players, DVDs, and home theater systems. Even your VCR and a supply of blank tapes. Someday, VCRs may be the only way to archive important events that some parties will not want you to have.

  • Don't buy or rent content on Apple TV, XBOX 360, or Amazon Unbox. Doing so reminds HDCP advocates that customers will still buy DRMed content that will not be functional in the near future, unlike tangible media such as DVDs or VHS tapes.

  • Don't downgrade your computer to Windows Vista, upgrade to GNU/Linux.

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