Writing in Personal Computer World, Barry Fox has a useful article on the dilemmas facing both consumers, studios, and networks over protecting HD video from capture, copying, and redistribution. The studios would prefer that consumers use HDMI compliant connections, but there are extensive legacy devices that only accept analog inputs.
In addition, not all HD capable devices protect high value content:
In theory, the studios can foil devices such as the Hauppauge PVR by burying ‘Image Constraint’ or ‘Digital Only’ tokens in the HD signal. These force a compliant disc player or receiver to down-res analogue HD content to SD, or completely blank the analogue output.
The token systems are controlled by AACS, the shadowy body that provides the copy protection system used by Blu-ray. Although Blu-ray has been on sale for a couple of years, AACS has still not set a final standard and protection has already been hacked. I asked the Blu-ray Group whether ICT and Dot flags would be used to stop analogue copying by the sledgehammer method of crippling all analogue play. “No comment,” said a spokesman. “It’s a studio decision to set flags.”
Pretty good protection may not be good enough in the long run, especially as broadband speeds increase further. Verizon's FiOS' 20-20 symmetric service is a harbinger of things to come. While the video industry will continue to be well ahead of the music industry in content protection, failure to close all the holes may enable ongoing piracy and consumer file sharing.