Two Small Paragraphs

November 13, 2013

Two small paragraphs were written in June 2009  in an obscure regulation  for the protection of video rights for those who make content, primarily for Blu-ray players.  The regulation was the AACS Adopter Agreement of June 2009.  If you’ve heard the term, “Analog Sunset” or “Sunset Laws”, this is to what they refer.
The two paragraphs in Exhibit E, part 2, section 2.2.2 stated:
With the exception of Existing Models any licensed Player manufactured after December 31, 2010 shall limit analog video outputs for Decrypted AACS Content to SD Interlace Modes only [composite video, S-video, 480i component video, and 576i video].
No Licensed Player that passes Decrypted AACS Content to analog video outputs may be manufactured or sold by Adopter after December 31, 2013.
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So why did this have such a major impact on the rest of the world?
1)   It took away the many options we had for video to be sent out of a Blu-ray player. It limited it to either a DVI type of connection or the more traditional HDMI connection with which most of us are familiar. Because HDMI also carried the audio signals as well and control and other information on a single connection, that became the standard.
2)   And since Blu-ray players became available on computers and laptops, a way had to be found to get a high-definition (HD) signal out of a VGA port. Since the regulation said you cannot use an analog port, computer manufactures started moving away from the traditional 15-pin VGA connector to a digital connector such as a Display Port, HDMI, Thunder Bolt, and other similar digital outputs.
Because of these two small paragraphs, by January 2014, the manufacturing of Laptops and computer with VGA ports on them will stop.
With all the different types of connectors for digital, how do you know which one to choose? 
The short answer is to speak to an expert. NTI started talking to clients about this over 5 years ago because we saw this trend coming our way.
(Please see our newsletter article, “Is It Nearly Sunset?” re-published within this newsletter. It was originally published in our Spring 2010 newsletter.)
At NTI we have been designing our systems to be compatible with the encryption since before the final encryption standards were ratified. We understand the requirements of the digital age. We understand that it is much more than just a connection on the wall.
To the regulations above (those 2 small paragraphs), add the fact the HD images are being replaced with 2K and 4K video quality. That makes it probable that in another 5 years, 8K video will be more prevalent.
Have you heard about Red-Ray, the replacement for Blu-ray? How about on-line streaming?  There is also live video broadcast, Skypeing and Lynx. All of these different connections and formats have come about because several years ago the owners of digital content (largely the movie industry) petitioned for and got a regulation  passed to protect their content.
Because of encryption, your laptop or Blu-ray player has to talk to every piece of equipment in your system.  The objective of those two small paragraphs was to prevent piracy.  By making sure that the equipment is compatible with the encryption, it can make certain that the content isn’t being recorded.  And it bears mention that the infrastructure to support this technology requires more than just a cable.
It also asks the equipment what types of signals it can distribute or show on its screen. In some cases, it can actually turn on your display for you. It tells the display what kinds of signal options it can send, and they go through a “hand-shake” process to determine the best picture. No longer are you hitting the F7 button to try and see an image on the screen and on your computer.
But what happens when…
You have a computer and a Blu-ray?
Your conference room has video conferencing?
How about a smart board?
Is there an additional local computer too?
Did you know that every piece of equipment has to be able to talk to one another, verify encryption compatibility, and ensure that everyone is ok to talk to one another? And unlike the older analog days, in the digital world, if they don’t talk and share the correct information, correctly authenticated, it will not show an image.
A complete solution has to be thought out to accommodate the ever changing environment of digital content. Reality (history of technology) teaches us that technology often changes faster than the process of designing and building a hotel, a large office building or a mixed use project.  Whether it is a small stand-alone room, multiple rooms with central distribution, or even a a requirement to connect multiple locations to share information, the impact of encryption has affected us all.
Designing  technology infrastructure and systems requires that we remain aware of the coming technology changes, not just those that the general public currently uses.  As evidence of this, consider:
As recently as 6 years ago, designing an analog only system was considered typical.  It was a risky proposition 3 years ago since a design is often complete a year or more before the facility first opens it’s doors.  Today, it may be an expensive mistake, as the Analog world fades into history, and a new “Digitally Encrypted” age reaches maturity.
by Alen Schulte CTS

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