As we get ever closer to a roll out (big, small, something in between?) of Blu-Ray and HD-DVD late this year or next (the latter is beginning to be the more likely scenario)there seems to be the looming threat that the functionality of HTPC's and personal computing in general will take a back seat to Hollywood, the recording industry, and software manufacturer greed and paranoia (more of the former than the latter IMHO). The newest requirements of the AACS (which is the industry body coming out with the copy restriction and security requirements for the next generation of HD media), according to posts by Amir of Microsoft on the AVS Forum, it seems that encrypting all forms of inputs and outputs on your computer is a BIG DEAL with Hollywood (and I'm sure with MS); so much so that you may need all new computer hardware (as in practically every piece of equipment due to their perceived threat of someone tapping into the datastream at some point and ripping files) and MS's new Longhorn OS in order to fully use a Blu-Ray or HD-DVD drive in a computer. In fact, Longhorn may be the first OS to meet AACS approval... that means every OS from XP on down could be ruled too vulnerable to allow HD drives to operate. Amir hinted that some AACS approved video card or other device may allow direct encrypted linkup to the drive in order to get around this, but said it may be unlikely. The Blu-Ray Consortium of companies have not, as of now, formally included AACS requirements into Blu-Ray's specs., but may do so soon as most of their members are also AACS members... and it's the only game in town. From a company that says they are for consumer choice MS seems to be quite willing to accept the rule of the AACS body (they are a member as well as most CE companies, and the IRAA, and MPAA) in most matters pertaining to fair use laws (or the elimination of such). One such sticking point is the ability to rip CD's and other audio files (and video files, which goes without saying really) to your computer for unfettered use and backup/archival copying... this includes network distribution for whole house A/V systems. Again, personal use is taking a back seat because they claim we are all criminals bent on stealing and selling their "gold" over the internet, etc. Amir states MS is for the consumer's rights to make backups for personal use, but many of the requirements of the AACS are calling for revokable 128 bit keys that could shut down parts of your software and/or hardware from your computer or set top players to PVR's if they deem you are doing "suspicious" activities. This key feature is hidden in the guise of internet connectivity in order to download updates to "improve" your player or computer or for consumers to access value added stuff attached to movie and audio discs. While you're connected the mainframe on the web would check to see if you've been "naughty" or "nice." If you are deemed to be "modifying" the original intent of their products, the key codes could be revoked and you get the "blue screen of death" so to speak and you would not be able to play discs any more. I would assume one such "red flag" would be hacking or changing firmware in order to set Region Free playback, a feature many of us use in order to circumvent the atrocious Regional Coding restrictions so we can import our favorite movies without some sort of artificial barrier to free markets (this may only get worse, though it is one big reason piracy is so rampant). Since these "hacks" are usually quietly endorsed by manufacturers (and are leaked internally, usually) a new set of AACS rules could fine and severely penalize any manufacturer who slips in such "back doors" and is caught, up to revoking their license to sell high definition playback equipment! I am not endorsing piracy and out and out stealing, but am endorsing the basic ability to legitimately buy any disc and have it work in any player in the world without arbitrary restrictions, just like normal CD's and tapes now, and the ability to freely use said purchased products in your own home without prying eyes lurking right outside ready and quite willing to pounce. Just look at the IRAA trying to get laws passed that allow them to monitor your hard drive for "illegal" music downloads. The AACS may allow them this gift without having to go through Congress at all! I could go on, but you, I'm sure, are getting the picture of this brave new world order. It's bad enough that they are trying to move towards a world where you don't own any physical media whatsoever, but one in which they have a hand permanently attached to your wallet by way of locked downloaded content you can't save or archive... sort of like DIVX on super-crack. I'm beginning to think that "high definition media" is being used as a kind of code word in the industry for a beginning of total domination of the market place and the ability to wipe out once and for all any kind of consumer control over privacy and fair use rights given to us by the Betamax laws from the early 80's (and much, much bigger sets of documents... the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights). What say you?