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High-Def Copy Protection Agreement Posted

16 Feb, 2006 By: Thomas A., Erik G.

Toshiba American Consumer Products announced an ambitious marketing push in support of HD DVD but conceded that some of the high-definition optical disc format's interactive features won't be available in the two first-generation players slated to hit stores next month without a "firmware upgrade."

Meanwhile, an agreement has been reached on an interim license for the Advanced Access Content System (AACS) copy protection both formats will use, removing of the final obstacles that had been standing in the way of a launch.

Toshiba has said its first two HD DVD players will come on the market in March, and the three studios supporting the format — Warner Home Video, Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment and Universal Studios Home Entertainment — are planning to roll out software beginning March 28.

Backers of the Sony-developed Blu-ray Disc have been less specific about a launch date, saying only that they expect to be on the market by the summer.

The interim agreement gives hardware manufacturers and disc replicators access to secret encryption keys necessary to manufacture discs and players capable of reading them.

Toshiba's marketing push calls for a tour of more than 40 cities in which company representatives will demonstrate their players and drum up support for the HD DVD format.

The tour commences Feb. 21 at the Electronics Expo in Paramus, N.J., followed by a presentation the next day, Feb. 22, at PC Richards in New York City. Subsequent stops will be in Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and other cities nationwide.

The tour is designed to educate retail salespeople, provide support material and increase consumer awareness about HD DVD players, including Toshiba's HD-XA1 ($799.99) and HD-A1 ($499.99).

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