There are suspicions, there are rumours, there are facts and in that realm of confusion is HDCP—copy protection for HD. People who own content don’t want you making a free digital copy of something they had to pay out a ton of dough to bring you in the first place. Sure, you can look at it all you want unlike the corner variety store nudie magazines but don’t even think about storing it on a disc, hard drive, storage system or the HDCP thought police will take you down just like the mattress tag cops. The fight continues as you read this.

Let’s face it, if there’s a way to do something, there’s a way to undo it and if someone wants to copy something bad enough… well, where there’s a will there’s a way. As it stands, HDCP is slapped onto many HD special events. The Superbowl HD broadcast, etc. but stuff like HD-Fox, HD-CBS and their ilk are just running unprotected upconverted analog broadcast content. The Soprano’s, as good as it is has not been shot in HD. Neither has CSI, Jerry Springer, regular sitcoms and definitely not movies. It’s all upconverted. When you look at the HD-PBS demo content that was actually shot in HD, well, now you’re getting true HD. However, now that HD digital programming in both video and radio is finally growing like Triffids, this fierce battle to get everything punch-holed with copy protection, (if the government goes along), will restrict you more than you think. You won’t even be able to e-mail a broadcast news clip… a school won’t be able to show a recorded-off-air documentary to a class… it’ll get bloody ridiculous. It’s no co-incidence that your DVD recorder lacks Component video-in either. You’re not being handcuffed, Hell, you’re being bound and gagged with a gun at your temple.

So, those upconverted analogue shows and movies are slated for a change. It has been said that the Component connection many have been using for 1080i HD, will likely be downgraded to 480p in favour of HDCP 720p/1080i/p HDMI. That’ll be a tough nut to swallow. People would rightly be a tad upset that their 2 year old set has to be replaced again so like all channels becoming HD, this may take awhile. But be prepared if it doesn’t.

Here’s something that is said, WILL happen this year., HD DVD Component will be downed to 540p and if you don’t have an HDMI connection on your display, start crying now ‘cause you can’t take advantage of HD DVD. The way HDCP works in a nutshell, is it employs what are called “Keys”. These keys are a slathering string of encoded firmware that have to be unlocked, line by line, one by one, by a HDCP compliant device. Your HD STB for example, has those keys inside it and paid dearly for them. Like the successive doors in Get Smart, if one doorway is locked… you’re poop outa luck, Jack. You don’t go any further and in this case, neither will the signal. So, everything in the line has to be HDCP compliant—the cable or satellite box, the switching device, the DVD Blu-Ray player, PVR conceivably and the display. You can’t have true HD and eat your cake too by keeping it on a shelf somewhere. At least that’s what the plan is from Big Brother. Hell, when VCR’s first came out, the industry went mental because you could record Gilligan’s Island and sell a copy to your brother (you bastard!). They calmed down after awhile because they had no choice. People were going to record no matter what so all the worry-warts could do, was to let you know recording was fine as long as you weren’t making any money at it. It brings to mind the DSS fiasco here a few years ago. Because the government couldn’t figure out how to make money on your DSS satellite signal, they outlawed it making the signal gray market and DSS complied. It’s friggin’ public airwaves but so much for freedom of choice. Here, they’re even more freaked out because digital is digital. The recording/copies will be better. Yeah, agreed but the concept is the same and people are not going to be satisfied with a PVR recording for long. Especially the jerks who make all those pirated DVD’s out on the market, in fact you can bet your butt those guys will be the first to crack the proverbial HDCP code string—if they haven’t already. Just look at all the good pirate recordings done off computer. Me? I don’t buy pirated copies, never have but I want the option of keeping a HD program and although I don’t sell pirated software, I’ll certainly be looking hard, for a way to keep what I want. Do yourself a favour though, go to and read Gigi Sohn’s statement on the “Broadcast and Video Flag”. Paranoid? Not a chance. She knows her stuff and so should you.

In the meantime, even though HDMI is not nearly as solid a connector as DVI, it’s smaller, easier to push through conduit and it looks like it will be the surviving connector until the industry wants to up the resolution ante. It’s workable with HDCP and that’s the biggie. Even the PS3 is slated to sport two of the connectors when it pops out of the womb in the Spring. Therefore, if so many devices will be using it, how the Hell do you get all of them into your display? Glad you asked. PureLink’s HDMI switchers are the way to go.


The PureLink HDMI switchers run at 5gbps and oh yes, they have the keys to the HDCP executive washroom. PureLink gives you a choice. 2 in 1 out or 4 in, 1 out. At this point, only the first output on either unit is actually HDCP compliant but that’s about to change given all this new information. All outputs will soon be compliant at a slight cost upgrade. A six in just might be a prudent production choice all things considered, so stay tuned. You know, it’s a frickin’ shame a minority of knot-headed wankers like the pirates have to spoil the recording concept for us all but I have to wonder if things would really be all that different if those guys just didn’t exist. I suspect not. Resistance, is futile… or perhaps more accurately, a matter of time. Either way, you’re going to need HDMI switching sooner than later and conveniently, we’ve got you covered. Now, aren’t you glad you spent the time and read all this? You’re welcome.