back to article MacBook buyers bite Apple over copy protection cock-up

Apple's decision to adopt the DisplayPort digital monitor connector is pissing off punters, all thanks to the technology's incorporation of a copyright protection mechanism. DisplayPort, like HDMI, mandates copy prevention technology. DisplayPort's system is called DisplayPort Content Protection (DPCP), but it's essentially …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Surely this will push people away from legal content?...

    When given the choice - Buy legal content from iTunes and being unable to play it on your TV or grab a torrent from somewhere, what will a large amount of people do?

    Surely this is pushing honest people away from purchasing content? What's next? Being unable to play your music through your stereo if your stereo doesn't support DRM?

  2. Richard Cartledge

    Software fix?

    I think as long as a VGA adapter is detected it should disable this DRM crap, as it's not giving out a digital signal in this situation anyway.

  3. Iain

    Or they could have been more sensible in the first place

    Whatever caused them to set the HDCP flag on these files when they put them on the iTunes store, anyway? If Apple don't want them "protecting" from being played over a VGA cable, they shouldn't have explicitly specified that in the files.

    Fix the problem, rather than spend good hardware costs on engineering a workaround.

  4. David Kelly


    As usual, DRM hurts people legally buying content while doing nothing to combat piracy. :-(

  5. Kenny Millar
    Dead Vulture

    @Tony Smith

    No, sorry I disagree.

    You don't understand who Apple are or where they are going.

    I bet you were one of those who said it was a bad idea to let go of the floppy drive at the time too.

    You cannot move forward by holding onto the past.

    If you want to be part of the revolution, then you have to arm yourself appropriately - and that means with the correct type of external displays for your Mac Books (etc).

    It was not a design error, nor was it a shortfall, it was a design decision - a pragmatic decision to move forward and leave the past to the Wintel brigade.

    Apple's courage to take what at the time are unpopular decisions give it the power to move forward, and to move ahead.

  6. Simon Buttress
    Jobs Horns

    Sits back and waits for the one like Phreaky

    C'mon Webster, get stuck in!

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Ed
    Thumb Down


    Presumably someone will make a connector that will strip off the content protection, as is available for HDMI... Or people will just download the illegal versions of whatever they want to watch...

  9. A J Stiles
    Thumb Down


    The thing they are missing is: With a CRT monitor at any rate, it's trivial to recover the data!

    Think: something with a connector looking like the back end of a cathode ray tube, plugged in where the tube used to have been. From the current through the scan coils, you get your timing information; and from the red, green and blue grid drives, you get your analogue RGB components. No need to reverse-engineer much at all! I don't have much experience of LCD panels; but I'm willing to bet that, thanks to the CRT legacy, they are all designed with a common interface that expects timing and analogue RGB signals -- and the HDCP stuff is dealt with on a separate circuit board.

    Sooner or later, someone will end up making an (unofficial) DisplayPort adaptor that pretends it supports HDCP, except it just spits out unprotected content via a standard VGA interface.

  10. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    A market large enough for fake "compliant" HDCP adapters - now we only need vendor brave enough and the whole DRM content protection schema will tumble.

  11. Leo Davidson

    DVI also uses HDCP

    Saying they should include a DVI port would not solve the problem. DVI also uses HDCP and HD content can require it.

    HDMI is just DVI + audio in a different connector. HDCP can be and is applied to both and you can run into the same problems with protected HD content when using a DVI cable if your graphics card and/or monitor do not support HDCP. (Or if they support it but not in the mode you are using... e.g. For a while at least there were several graphics cards which support HDCP in single-link DVI mode only, meaning it didn't work at high resolutions requiring dual-link DVI.)

  12. Tom Chiverton

    Simple answer... not cheap though

    I smell a market for DisplayPort spoofers, like the ones you can get for HDMI.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    would this be the bag of hurt that Stevie baby was referring to?

    or is just a teaspoons worth?

    I guess this would be the final thing that stops o' Webnutster from buying on of these then?

  14. Stephen Jenner
    Thumb Down

    A recent convert... converts back.

    I bought a MBP (early 2008 model), not bad, all in all.

    However, the more I read about the company's philosophy, the less likely I am to buy another Apple product.

    This latest piece of crap being just the latest example.

    Roll on something decent for the desktop, that actually works and does not seek to enslave it's user.

  15. Olof P

    Can HDCP content play in full definition over DVI?

    I was under the impression this kind of content would not play in full definition unless the whole chain from disc to monitor was HDCP compatible. In that case, using VGA or (non-HDCP) DVI is hardly a fix, since it'll give lower quaity output compared.

    Or as it could be easier said, DRM sucks.

  16. Jon Press

    Not sure all of that is right...

    I thought, for example, that Vista would downscale HD material before allowing it to be viewed on a non-HDCP device. I don't think that's quite the same as suggesting that "legacy" ports are a bypass for content protection on other platforms.

    But then, even Microsoft wouldn't think it could get away with breaking stuff that previously worked. Apple, on the other hand....

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Just an extra Apple tax?

    Looks like the recession is over for these guys then

  18. Andrew Bayliss

    By design

    Surely this is HDCP/DisplayPort behaving exactly like it's supposed to? HDCP enabled displays can display the content, non-HDCP displays can't. This is exactly why HDCP is A Bad Thing.

  19. Gulfie
    Thumb Down

    Dear oh Dear...

    Glad I bought my MacBook Pro at Easter. This would turn a dead cert 'yes' purchase into a dead cert 'no' and should have rung alarm bells in Apple. Bad, bad mistake.

    Hang your heads in shame, Apple.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    HDCP nonesense

    This just highlights the complete nonsense with DPCP / HDCP.

    The film studios and broadcasters are so far up their own arses that they think encrypting the link to to the display is a good idea with no regard for the poor sod who's trying to use it.

    For some reason, "HD" (because this is basically what we're talking about) seems to equate to "REALLY REALLY VALUABLE" and it must be protected at all costs. Why? What's so bloody special about it? If I wanted to rip off some HD content, I wouldn't try and capture the decoded video output to the display - that's akin to tape-to-tape copying in the ZX Spectrum days. There are far better (quality) and easier ways of ripping stuff off.

    I DO love the way the industry has spent literally billions and billions developing cool display and video (and audio) technology ...only to then cripple it and make it basically unusable by adding DRM, a multitude of incompatible formats, and legal threats ("you are not authorised to play this content on your Linux box").

    That's progress for you!

  21. TBW

    Clarification Needed

    This article is a bit poorly worded. It seems to suggest that using DVI at all entirely prevents you from playing protected content, which simply isn't true. All Macs sporting DVI ports in the past have supported HDCP over DVI for several generations now (though this is the first time the HDCP requirement has been enforced, of course). This still holds true for the DisplayPort Macs too. If you have an HDCP-compliant DVI monitor, it WILL work with HDCP via the DP-to-DVI adapter.

    Your monitor has to be pretty damn old indeed if it does DVI but doesn't support HDCP. VGA people are of course still entirely out of luck though.

  22. Ted Treen

    Silly glitch

    Apple are renowned for "leading the pack". So when they drop a bollock, it's inevitably going to be a pack-leader of a dropped bollock.

    Yes, I'm a Mac fan, but this descendant testis should certainly have been foreseen and strangled prior to release.

  23. Mog0

    Surely they can not set the content flags

    The HDCP only kicks in if the content being played demands it. That's why you can still see your desktop and it only affects media playback.

    If Apple didn't set the flags in their iTunes content then it wouldn't be an issue.

  24. Nick L
    Jobs Horns

    Well, that's me out then.

    I was saving up for a shiny macbook pro to replace my old-but-good ibook g4. Yes, I was concerned about the gloss screen on the new stuff, but I could have lived with it. It think.

    But not with this supreme daftness. I've got a lovely LaCie TFT monitor that I often use for photoshop work, and I plug the ibook into the TV via VGA for movies

    I'll grab a last generation Macbook Pro second hand now... There's quite a few around from the fanbois who have upgraded.

    Silly, silly move Apple. You must have seen this coming, and have utterly failed to manage it.

  25. Stu
    Paris Hilton


    Perhaps people are not only pissed off that they cannot view certain protected content, but also perhaps its because there is yet again another 'standard' which is totally unnecessary.

    Just why does DisplayPort exist when HDMI is perfectly good, and its a great simple, and small connector too.

    Or does HDMI only do 720p, 1080i and 1080p? In which case I'll shut up. ;-)

    I don't think this is the case because I've used a DVI to HDMI converter cable with an old PC, what I found is that the TV you plug a PC into may not be capable of showing, say 1440 x 900 resolution, but a computer monitor could.

    So HDMI may be consumer TV oriented, but its perfectly capable of doing computer output imho.


    Can anybody justify DisplayPorts existence in light of HDMIs suitability and prevalence?

  26. Frank Bough
    Thumb Up

    It's Time the Church of Apple Forked

    Apple are really pissing off their customers at the moment. Killing Firewire, holding back Blu-Ray, the lameness of the Apple TV and now these ridiculous Display Port shenanigans. Us die-hard Macheads long suspected that Apple would out-Microsoft Redmond if given half the chance, and the iPod seems to have given them that chance. Almighty Steve, hear our prayer!

  27. Mark Dowling

    You're assuming this isn't deliberate

    Why would apple buy free monitors for its users? It has adopted an aggressive "my way or the highway attitude" to stuff like interoperability between iTunes content and other manufacturers' devices, so why can't we assume that Jobs hasn't cocked up, he is playing to the RIAA/MPAA gallery to ensure no threats to his precious media distribution game.

    All the Apple zealots will bitch and moan... even as they hand over their credit cards to the "Genius" behind the Apple Store counter.

  28. Gordon Grant

    Can we say...........

    OPHS, what a spectular goal that was, an own goal..

    Sure I mean give most "HD" TV's are at most 1090 and monitors generally now support passed this resolution. Yes there is a need for "copy protection" but this over the top method of doing it is a bit much..

    I think apple will need to supply Free to anyone who asks for one convertor from "display port" to VGA / DVI which takes care of the "HD encyption" I mean it's a bit silly to try and copy video data from a VGA / DVI output anyway is it not..

  29. Fred

    Without DRM?

    "this was initially detected by punters who'd tried to show illegal rips from Blu-ray Discs"

    Is that possible? Presumably they were ripped to divx or something similar, but certainly without any DRM. Is all HD content blocked as a matter of course? If so that seems seriously @#$3ed up.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    great appletv seller

    Apple had to come up with some way to sell the no doubt huge stockpile of AppleTV's somehow!

    Maybe they'll even give AppleTV's away free to 'effected users', surely a cheaper alternative to landfill these days ;-)

  31. Planeten Paultje


    @Kenny Millar: "You cannot move forward by holding onto the past"

    Holding onto DRM *IS* holding onto the past.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    @ Kenny Millar

    How does that kool-aid taste, Kenny?

  33. Anonymous Coward


    I've been offered a refund on mine, which I will be taking. Is apple gn'a do anything else to piss off its loyal customers. Jobs aint the Messiah he used to be!!!!

  34. Inachu

    More reasons to rip videos. Geeee Thanks

    Some people love to rip videos but I hate it.

    It is a time sink when I could be doing something better.

    The end results at least are I can watch the video I purchased LEGALLY on any device I choose. How dare anyone who does not live in my home tell me how to watch a video! SHAME ON YOU!

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Steve hates HDCP, he's hoping this kills it

    You guys have it all wrong. Steve hates copy protection. By doing this he is hoping a lawsuit will happen that will finally make all forms of copy protection illegal.

    So yes, this was by design by Apple, but the motive was to improve everyone's life!

  36. David Kelly

    @Nick L

    You do know this restriction is only for HD movies right? I mean honestly, are you really going to try watch HD movies via a VGA connector ? :-D

  37. Stephen Bungay

    DRM is a bad idea...

    I can not and do not believe that the execs at Apple did not have this brought to their attention. Any mention that the product is not HD capable with older HD capable displays (perhaps only one year old) would negatively impact sales, so gloss over that bit of info in the marketing campaign.

    Apple has loaded their gun, taken careful aim, and shot their customer's big-toe off... they can still walk but they can't run... unless they by the Intel approved running-shoes.

  38. Chris C


    First, I have to say: Kenny, you're an idiot. To say that this was a good design decision, while DVI (and VGA) monitors are CURRENTLY being manufactured and sold, is a stupid idea. To claim that it's an attempt to let go of the past, while the displays CURRENTLY being manufactured, just screams of insanity. How can "right now" be considered the past? Only to you and Jobs. Or are you actually implying that nobody would want to connect their notebook to an external monitor?

    On to the primary point of my comment... why is it that we're allowing the entertainment industry, who is the only one who wants DRM, to dictate how we use our computers? And why aren't the "green" people jumping on this? If the video card needs to encrypt the stream before sending it across the wire, and the TV/monitor needs to decrypt it, then we're wasting large amounts of energy (compared to sending the signal across the wire as-generated, with no encryption or decryption).

    And let's not forget that this is virtually meaningless. Someone WILL break the encryption scheme (if it hasn't been done already). Then they can create a hardware device to go between your precious encrypted content and your non-DRM display. Either that, or (even easier), they'll create a software hack to run on the computer to make it think the display is authorized.

    I don't know what's sadder -- the fact that we've outlawed the process of people trying to get legitimately-purchased media to play on their equipment (via the DMCA), or that people have to jump through hoops to get legitimately-purchased media to play on their equipment.

  39. Chris iverson

    Rip everything

    Dont give into the DRM BS. Rip your music, Rip your movies. To this end I would rather make Western digital and the like wealthy since they provide space for me to store all my media. This is the issue I have with Mac/Vista. Jobs/Gates telling me where and when my media is played, how its played and what its played on. Everyone give your stored media to everyone else, stop buying music and movies and when they cry about why scream DRM.

    Ahh...sorry about that. Back to work now

  40. Gilbo

    Serves you right.

    Anyone who subscribes to Apple's dictatorship deserves everything they get.

    That is all.

  41. Graham Lockley

    @Kenny Millar

    >I bet you were one of those who said it was a bad idea to let go of the floppy drive at the time too.

    Trolling is a dying art if thats the best you can do !

    With regards to floppies, lets put it in perspective. When Apple decided they were old hat the rest of the world were sneaker-netting stuff around offices on a daily basis. A request for a copy of a doc from a Mac user at that time would have bought embarassed mumbles and little else.

    Apple (and MS) keep trying to do the 'we know best' while the rest of the world just goes about its business.

    Bloody Factard (TM), get a life !

    (Im sure the US copyright system will allow me to register the synergis of 'F*ckwit' and 'M*ctard' )

  42. ffrankmccaffery

    @Kenny Millar

    man this fella takes the award for the most brain-washed mactwat

    and to wrap his apology in such purple prose really staggering

  43. David Glasgow

    @ Stu

    ....and Paris Hilton because.......?????

  44. Simon Buttress

    Joke piracy poster

    Every story I hear like this reinforces the accuracy of this pi**take poster

    Joke - Because that's what this decision is.

  45. Ramon Sandoval
    Thumb Down

    Kenny Millar. Oh, do grow up.

    This attitude that Mac is right no matter what idiotic thing they do coming from rabid Mac supporters is tripe. When the iMac came out there was no real way to transfer files off the d*** thing. One had to go out and purchase an external floppy. It came with a CD player. NOT a decent CD burner, but a CD player. It was as if the "design decision" included a home network to transfer all files created off the desktop, or the purchase of a (then expensive) external CD burner. Apple made these decision because it saves money not having to support multiple standards. It is all about being cheap.

  46. brakhage

    This affects punters, not pirates

    What I dislike intensely about these anti-piracy measures is that they affect the people who constitute the market for pirate content, and do no further attempt to curtail piracy itself.

    So, the pirates have won - we will always have recourse to creating duplicates of copryright material, but the means of sharing that material with a projector or widescreen telly are what is being stopped dead here. How pointless, and cruel.

    For example, do I give a fuck if my Mac's digital display port has DRM built in? Much as it's a little costly and ugly, I can get a USB video DAC that gives me a VGA analogue signal just fine, and my little projector will happily shine Captain Jack Sparrow and his merry cockney lingo (translated with Korean subtitles) onto my bedroom wall.

    People like me who work in video professionally cannot understand what the fuss is about, we share what we work on and don't get any royalties anyway - we lose no pay from piracy. I know about a hundred musicians and only about five of them pay for every track they listen to.

    Why does Apple think that corporate responsibility schemes such as in-built hardware DRM are their duty? They are superseding a role as hardware supplier and are mandating the terms of use of their machines, which is obviously wrong. Much as I regret not getting a MacBook, that Apple logo spooks me like a swastika.

  47. Steve Ives
    Paris Hilton

    Would one solution be...

    a USB->VGA adapter; at least until you've got a decent display, capable of showing your HD content?


    Paris, as she's good with sockets

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