Feeds

MacBook buyers bite Apple over copy protection cock-up

DisplayPort-only direction yields iTunes playback woes

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Analysis Apple's decision to adopt the DisplayPort digital monitor connector is pissing off punters, all thanks to the technology's incorporation of a copyright protection mechanism.

DisplayPort, like HDMI, mandates copy prevention technology. DisplayPort's system is called DisplayPort Content Protection (DPCP), but it's essentially the same as the High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) mechanism used by HDMI.

Both systems were designed to ensure that digital video streams are not tapped and duplicated once they've been decoded and transmitted to a screen.

HDCP requires the video source to verify the status of the display, and if the screen's not up to snuff - from a copyright protection perspective - the source shouldn't send across the HD content. The display has to be able to signal to the source its ability to decipher the encrypted video stream the source wants to send.

That's what the latest Macs are doing. MacBook owners are hooking up old displays, none of which support HDCP, and the computers are flashing up a message warning users that they can't play HDCP-protected content without a suitable screen.

Now, this was initially detected by punters who'd tried to show illegal rips from Blu-ray Discs and HD DVDs, but it has now emerged that content legitimately acquired through - of all places - Apple's own iTunes store won't play either.

Plug in an old display that uses VGA or DVI, and the latest, DisplayPort-equipped Macs will refuse to show protected content on it because the connected screen doesn't respond to requests for HDCP status.

It's Apple's cock-up for not anticipating the huge number of folk out there with legal iTunes content, big screens and brand new MacBooks. The company can legitimately plead that these people can still play their purchases on their computers' built-in screens - and they can - but while that's correct to the letter of the law, it's not in its spirit.

Had Apple's engineers and designers thought about this, they'd do what other notebook makers do and include a VGA or DVI port on the new MacBooks. Pretty much every graphics chip and integrated chipset out there currently includes HDCP technology. What stops it bothering owners of other vendors' computers is that those machines have multiple monitor ports.

So, plug in an HDMI TV or a DisplayPort monitor, you've got a verified HDCP connection and your content plays. Plug in an old monitor or TV, and while you don't have a verified HDCP connection, your content still plays because it's being routed over a link that's doesn't care about HDCP anyway.

It will only be a problem if you connect a DisplayPort connector via an adaptor to a VGA or DVI monitor. Right now, no one's doing this but Mac users because, firstly, hardly anyone has a DisplayPort monitor and, secondly, with the other connectors available, no one needs to use an adaptor.

The only people who do are folk who own a new MacBook, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. Apple's one-port strategy for monitors has come to bite it on the bum, big time.

What can it do? It can't disable HDCP, not least because its DisplayPort licence undoubtedly mandates the use of the copy prevention system. It could always hand out free DisplayPort monitors to affected customers, we suppose.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
End of buttons? Apple looks to patent animating iPhone sidewalls
Filing suggests handset with display strips
Samsung Gear S: Quick, LAUNCH IT – before Apple straps on iWatch
Full specs for wrist-mounted device here ... but who'll buy it?
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Now that's FIRE WIRE: HP recalls 6 MILLION burn-risk laptop cables
Right in the middle of Burning Mains Man week
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
Reg man looks through a Glass, darkly: Google's toy ploy or killer tech specs?
Tip: Put the shades on and you'll look less of a spanner
HUGE iPAD? Maybe. HUGE ADVERTS? That's for SURE
Noo! Hand not big enough! Don't look at meee!
AMD unveils 'single purpose' graphics card for PC gamers and NO ONE else
Chip maker claims the Radeon R9 285 is 'best in its class'
prev story

Whitepapers

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup
Learn why inSync received the highest overall rating from Druva and is the top choice for the mobile workforce.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.