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Blu-ray body confirms format to use 'interim' copy protection code

Won't limit the consumer, apparently

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CeBIT Blu-ray Disc's lack of full AACS support will not limit the consumer in any way, Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) spokesman Frank Simonis said today after confirming the next-generation optical disc format will incorporate an "interim" version of the copy-protection technology.

The organisation also indicated the format's European launch timeframe will be formally announced after Blu-ray's US launch in May. This despite comments from Samsung, Panasonic and others that they will ship BD players over here in the Autumn.

AACS (Advanced Access Content System) is a cornerstone of both HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc. Hints that the technology - currently being developed separately from either optical format - was running behind schedule emerged last month when Sony warned that its PlayStation 3 might be delayed by an unnamed industry consortium being unable to come up with their final specifications in time.

We suggested Sony might have AACS in mind - it's part of the PS3's BD drive - and sure enough it quickly emerged as the front runner for potential PS3 delays.

The BDA's comments yesterday confirm that AACS isn't done - but there's enough of it in place to allow HD DVD and BD hardware and content providers to offer product. Whatever technology is incorporated into initial units must remain compatible with future versions of AACS, and Simonis indicated that would indeed be the case. If not, the consumer backlash is likely to be considerable.

Simonis added that BD will ship with the format's BD+ and ROMmark security systems - both of which come in addition to AACS. BD+ allows the BDA to update at a future date the Blu-ray encryption keys should they be cracked or made public at a future date. ROMmark is essentially a 'genuine disc' stamp encoded on each BD as it comes out of a pressing machine.

As for a European launch, Phillipe Coppens, of BDA member company Philips, said an announcement would come in the near future - essentially, when the US launch has taken place, he added. ®

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