Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Friday 5/8/2005Picture this – if you can. You've bought a very expensive monitor: very flat, very high resolution, very gorgeous.

Friday 5/8/2005

Picture this – if you can. You've bought a very expensive monitor: very flat, very high resolution, very gorgeous. You've also bought a very expensive DVD player with high definition, digital output and every last bell and whistle that can be struck or blown. You might be forgiven for wanting to plug one into the other, so you can experience all that compelling eye-candy.

But no. The DVD player refuses to do anything but display an incomprehensible error message. You've just fallen foul of High-bandwidth Digital Copy Protection or HDCP. This is hardware DRM, where a monitor authenticates itself as a device that's not going to do anything naughty with the information it is sent. Invented by Intel, HDCP is quite a complex cryptographic system that to date hasn't been incorporated in any monitors, although it has found its way into televisions. Without it, many digital video devices won't play – or will play a deliberately downgraded version of their content. Exciting, huh? Just why you spent all that money. You'd better get used to the idea, though, as it will be built into Windows Vista. Just another compelling reason to upgrade: who'd begrudge spending a few hundred extra quid on a new monitor you don't actually need in order to help big companies maintain their business models

I'm also sure that they’ll have solved all the problems with the system by the time it gets truly mainstream. Having tried to explain to a friend why his DVD player wouldn't touch the copy he'd made of his digital home movies ("You see, you’re stealing money from the copyright holder." "But that's me." "Aren't you glad you're being protected from yourself?"), I really wouldn't like to predict what will happen to the market if the rumour got out that we'd all be far better off keeping what we have.

Oh, before I go: this week's best new word is chimping. It is a mildly derisory term that describes the excited noises made by a digital photographer when reviewing a particularly striking picture taken moments before. It's not big and it's not grown-up, so remember:

No chimping!