Apple has made a major concession to the movie studios this week by adding special copyright protection software to its MacBooks.
The studio was pushing for the measure to ensure that pirated films and television shows aren’t shared online. With the new software embedded in Apple’s latest notebook series, they believe they now have a better system in place to prevent online piracy.
The hardware-level copyright protection system, known as Content Protection for Pre-Recorded Media (CPPM), will now come standard on all new Mac computers, beginning with the 2017 model macOS Sierra release. It is unclear yet if or how this affects previous model MacBooks.
This is actually not the first time Apple has implemented a copyright protection mechanism on their machines; in 2010, the company added what was then known as High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) to protect media streaming over HDMI and DisplayPort. The new software takes things a step further by also covering other types of media output, like streaming audio and video over AirPlay and other wireless media channels.
However, Apple’s decision to include this software on their machines has been met with mixed reactions from the public. Copyright protections are generally built into systems like Blu-ray players and Smart TVs – not computers – so many feel that Apple should not be leading the way in this arena. Furthermore, some worry that this could open the door for other copyright control measures being implemented into laptops and desktops.
Despite the controversy surrounding its decision, Apple at least appears to be making an effort to both appease the movie studios while still ensuring that users’ rights remain intact. Whether or not they’ll actually be able to get away with this remains to be seen.
The measures include a so-called “High Bandwidth Digital Content Protection” (HDCP) system, which will be built into the new MacBooks when they ship in June. HDCP is designed to prevent content that is digitally-protected from being copied or re-distributed by others.
Film and TV studios have been pushing for stronger copyright protection for years, but the move has faced opposition from tech companies and consumer groups who argue that such measures limit consumer rights. Apple is the first major tech company to agree to incorporate HDCP, although most TVs and Blu-Ray players already use it.
The decision has been welcomed by the entertainment industry, which has long feared digital piracy, especially in light of the increased release of high-resolution content on iTunes and other services. With approximately 10 million Macs sold each year worldwide, Apple has the potential to greatly reduce digital piracy with this move.
However, consumer groups are concerned about how this could impact their use of content, especially that which originates from a third party source. For example, some argue that users may not be able to transfer a movie they own onto their Mac even if they have the rights to do so. Other consumer rights advocates are also worried that Apple could allow movie studios restrict access to certain types of content or a third party could gain access to user’s media libraries against their will.
It remains unclear precisely how this new technology will work in practice and if consumers will be made aware of its use upon purchase or installation. While this decision is still a cause of debate amongst Apple fans, there is no doubt that strong copyright protection is becoming more important in today’s digital era.