HP invests in DRM technology

March 8, 2004

Hewlett-Packard Co. and Philips announced their joint development of a new copy protection technology designed to enable recording of “copy-once” content from digital broadcast signals. HP has licensed digital content protection technology from Intel Corp. and developed copy protection technology with Philips in an attempt to prohibit users of its personal computers to record video programs and send them to others.

Company executives said it made more sense for HP to license that technology from Intel rather than to develop it itself and possibly create a competing standard. They said that by next year all HP digital entertainment products would use software that honors the copyright rules.

The company also said that the technology it and Philips developed—that can be used with the popular DVD+R and +RW formats--will enable protected digital recordings of digital broadcast and cable television according to the rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission in November.

The FCC voted to permit broadcast networks and motion picture studios to insert a special digital marker—called a “broadcast flag”—into the datastream of DTV signals and restrict re-use of the signal by viewers. The restrictions apply to digital broadcasts of news and public affairs shows as well as entertainment programming.

The broadcast flag, which will be read by all new consumer electronics equipment, is meant to prevent viewers from copying broadcasts of television shows and movies and widely distributing them on the Internet. Critics strongly contend that it will not stop piracy, and will make digital television more costly and less desirable for viewers.

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