Will we rue the day we let HD DVD die?

Is it a good idea to put the content makers in charge of the technology? Is this going to lead to more open uses of media, or more restrictive ones?

Home Entertainment

As a tech journalist, I meet a lot of other tech journalists and obviously we talk constantly about technology and the TV show Lost. As you might imagine, Toshiba and HD DVD have been the topic of many recent conversations. What I've been able to glean is this: most of us geeks would have been happy for HD DVD to win the format war.

Will we all regret the failure of HD DVD in years to come, or will Blu-ray make it all better? Personally, I have a feeling Blu-ray is going to lead to more restrictive practices in HD media. For a start, Blu-ray has an extra level of copy protection, known as BD+, which augments the standard AACS protection found on both formats. This system has yet to be broken, so there are no ways to back up your Blu-ray media, or use it in a way that doesn't feature HDCP. Ignoring that though, in my experience, any time copy protection is placed on something, you can bet your bottom dollar it will cause problems for people trying to use their media legitimately.

My main problem with Blu-ray though is that it is heavily backed by Sony. You might ask, why do I have a problem with Sony's involvement? As you probably know, Sony is also one of the biggest movie studios in Hollywood -- it owns Sony Pictures, Columbia TriStar and a 20 per cent chunk of MGM. The issue is this: is it a good idea to put the content makers in charge of the technology? Is this going to lead to more open uses of media, or more restrictive ones? I'll give you three guesses, but you'll only need one.

Many people criticise Microsoft for its monopoly, but there are worse monsters out there, biding their time. Waiting.

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