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Mike Evangelist changes HD boycott to AACS DRM only

Kevin C. Tofel

We're still not so sure on the approach, but Mike has changed his focus from last week's call to boycott high-definition. Mike has started a site titled "Boycott HD Formats Using AACS" and is trying to rally the troops and (interestingly enough) taking donations to help spread the word. Funny, we do that every day and don't ask for a dime, now do we? Anyway, we respectfully understand Mike's stance on AACS DRM, but boycotting products and content that use AACS isn't likely to do much.

One could argue that consumers effectively and indirectly boycotted DVD-Audio and SACD, but there's a key difference: there was and is a usable digital format that provides music in a relatively high quality format: the Compact Disc. There just isn't enough of a difference in the public's perception between CDs and the higher-quality formats. On the visual front however, HDTV is coming and the public-at-large has seen it. In fact, they see it in every store that carries electronics and they are simply blown away.

Additionally, Mike seems to forget that the DTV transition is looming in less than three years. Was there an audio transition from CDs to some other format? No there wasn't, so many folks don't even know that SACD or DVD-Audio even existed. They sure know that DTV and HDTV changes are coming and there's no way around it. Does anyone really think that people will turn off television programming in high-def to pop in a 480p DVD?

Finally, many folks don't yet understand the relatively simple concept of digital television when compared to analog; they simply want to watch their content. Most people don't really care about 720p vs. 1080i or HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray, they want a positive viewing experience. Trying to school them in the intricacies of AACS and all-things DRM is likely a lost cause.

For these reasons, among other Mike, your boycott is likely to have little to no impact, regardless of how good your intent is or how much we agree that DRM is generally a pain. In any case, we've done our part by spreading the word for you and we wish you the best in your endeavor. AACS has been in the works for some time, so a boycott now might be a bit too late.

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