HP's Fiorina reinforces piracy stance

Hewlett-Packard's Carly Fiorina told visitors to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that HP is determined to help stamp...

Hewlett-Packard's Carly Fiorina told visitors to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that HP is determined to help stamp out the illegal copying of music and video by including tough protection technologies in virtually all of the consumer products it sells.

“We are very proud to stand on this stage and take a tough stand on digital piracy,” Fiorina said. "Too much digital content is still being taken illegally, undermining business models and artistic integrity.

"Starting this year, HP will strive to build every one of our products to protect digital rights," she added.

Instead of the computer industry's Moore's Law, Fiorina coined a new term: Kazaa's Law, after the popular file-sharing software.

"Kazaa's Law states that our sense of right and wrong does not evolve as fast as our technology. Just because we can do wrong doesn’t mean we should. Just because we can steal music doesn’t mean we should," she said.

Fiorina was joined on stage by a string of music industry heavyweights that included U2 guitarist The Edge, Eminem manager Paul Rosenberg, and Jimmy Iovine, chairman of Universal Music Group's Interscope label.

"On behalf of Universal Music Group, we're going to support HP to the point where they're going to beg us to stop," Iovine said. "For a company that is willing to be this brave and forward thinking, we will show what our industry can do."

Fiorina said HP will build, license or acquire the best content protection technologies it can find to prevent its customers from illegally downloading and sharing copyright material.

She claimed that HP has cancelled products in recent years because it was unhappy with the level of copyright protection they offered.

HP's Digital Movie Writer product, used to record video tapes onto DVDs, already includes technology that prevents consumers from illegally copying VHS tapes. "Soon that technology will be in every one of our products," said Fiorina.

HP will also implement technology that will prevent consumers from recording digital television content and distributing it illegally over the Internet.

The company is also supporting Apple Computer's iTunes online music store,HP has also partnered with Apple to offer its own branded version of Apple's iPod music player.

Fiorina showed HP's device for the first time yesterday and said it will go on sale in June. HP will also include Apple's iTunes software with all of its consumer PCs, and provide a desktop link that makes it easier for consumers to visit the iTunes store.

Among the products that HP will introduce over the next 18 months are competitively priced entertainment displays, such as a 75cm LCD screen and a 105cm plasma screen that will go on sale in the third quarter. As well as acting as high-quality television screens, the displays will also play back digital films and photographs from a PC and other sources.

HP will also "dramatically" reduce the price of digital projectors for building home entertainment centres, as well as offering a Media Center Extender, a product announced on Wednesday by Microsoft which connects to a television to display content from a Media Center PC.

The company will introduce what Fiorina called an "entertainment hub" for the living room, a product that acts as a central repository for digital music and video. It will connect to a television, allowing people to pause live TV and record programming, although no date was given for launch.

Finally, HP is developing a version of its iPaq handheld computer that will double as a remote control for home appliances.

James Niccolai writes for IDG News Service

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