Saturday, February 25, 2006

Analog Restrictions Management?

Although this post is on the Sci-Fi Channel's tech blog, there is unfortunately no fiction to it. Now, it seems that all of the DRM schemes in the universe aren't good enough for big media. So, to supplement their evil ways, all consumer Blu-ray and HD DVD players are going to output at 960 x 540 on their analog component video outputs, and will only output the full 1920 x 1080 on their (encrypted, restricted, managed) digital outputs. So, people like me who jumped on the Hi-Def bandwagon early, and therefore don't have digital inputs on their TVs, are - in a word - screwed.

I don't see why the quality of media should be a determinant factor in assessing what constitutes fair use. Although the 25% output is better than my current DVDs, it's not really better enough for me to pay a premium. This provides a shining example of why becoming an early adopter of any consumer technology has become a really bad idea (TM). Instead of falling for the trap, I will wait for the confluence of a few events -- A.) The death of my current TV, B.) The commoditization of the new hardware and ridiculous price-drop associated therewith, and C.) The general availability of methods that enable restoration of rights and allow use of the media in ways that were historically deemed to be permissible (regardless of resolution).

The technology companies don't drive the technology anymore -- the media companies are in complete control, and the "features" are driven by these third-party producers instead of the consumers / end-users. The media companies' brillance is to casually expect me to only be able to see 25% of what I pay for, and be happy about it. So, why don't the technology companies care? Easy, they get to sell a new TV to everybody, not just the folks who don't already have Hi-Def.

Note to the media companies: Keep it up; you're doing a great job alienating all of your potential customers by preemptively accusing them of theft whilst simultaneously probing their collective orifices with large, barbed, red-hot pokers. Perhaps if you would invest an equal amount of money and time to generate truly compelling products, people would feel more inclined to purchase said products.