Apple to Mac owners: throw away your monitor if Hollywood says so

Buying an Apple computer? Get ready to throw away your monitor, over and over again. New Apple hardware is shipping with "HDCP" anti-copying technology that prevents showing some video on "non-compliant" monitors. Best part: the list of "compliant" monitors will change over time: the monitor you buy today can be "revoked" tomorrow and stop working.

Slashdot says that Apple's added "copyright protection" to its video. But copyright law isn't violated when you watch a movie on an "unapproved" monitor. This isn't about enforcing copyright law, it's about giving a small handful of movie companies a veto over hardware designs.

Yesterday, our buddy David Chartier at Ars and Sam Oliver at AppleInsider both publicized an issue that's been burning up the support boards for a while now: iTunes video rentals and purchases in HD are flagged for HDCP control, and in cooperation with the new Mini DisplayPort connector on the MacBook and MacBook Pro unibody models, those movies and TV shows are refusing to play back on non-compliant external displays.

In this case, 'compliant' means HDMI or recent-vintage DVI, but even monitors or TVs that support HDCP may not properly negotiate with the DisplayPort connector to give iTunes and QuickTime the all-clear signal (if so, quitting and relaunching iTunes once the display is hooked up may clear the playback hold).

Equally annoying: HDCP is only supposed to apply to 'high-value' digital streams, meaning standard-def purchases and rentals on the iTunes store should be out of scope... but some reports indicate that both the HD and SD instances are flagged, blocking playback on anything but the laptop's internal display or a straight-thru HDMI connection. Argh!

MacBook Pro users getting bitten by HDCP (Thanks, Denver Jewelry Guy!)