We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is an Image Constraint Token?

By J. Dellaporta
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At EasyTechJunkie, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The image constraint token is a digital flag built into Blu-ray and HD-DVD discs that determines how those discs output video signals through the player’s output connectors. The goal of the image constraint token is to prevent unauthorized copies, or piracy, in high definition. An image constraint token works by instructing the player to downgrade Blu-ray and HD-DVD discs’ native high-resolution 1080p video to a standard-resolution 540p for output through its analog video connectors. The video signal from the player’s digital high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) remains in full definition because HDMI output is copy-protected. The image constraint token is activated by the movie studio during the mastering process.

The image constraint token is a part of the Advanced Access Content System (AACS), an encryption scheme built into Blu-ray and HD-DVD discs with the goal of preventing piracy. The HDMI cables used on Blu-ray and HD-DVD players use High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) to ensure that high-definition video can only be viewed on HDCP-enabled monitors. Blu-ray and HD-DVD discs and players use AACS and HDCP in conjunction with each other in an attempt to thwart piracy.

The image constraint token has become the source of much controversy because, while the token and copy-protected HDMI cables may help prevent pirated HD copies of movies, they may also prevent many consumers from seeing any improvement in image quality as they attempt to upgrade from DVD. Early adopters of HDTV sets who bought their displays before HDMI inputs were introduced will be forced to watch their new HD-DVDs in standard-definition.

More than three million Americans own HDTV sets that are inoperable with HDCP. Additionally, some forthcoming HD-DVD and Blu-ray players, such as the Microsoft Xbox 360 and base-model Sony PS3, will lack HDMI output - meaning that even if a consumer has a state-of-the-art HDTV, their new player will be unable to display high-definition video on discs with an activated image constraint token. This contradicts marketing claims of HD-DVD and Blu-ray technology as “future-proof”.

Adding to the controversy is the fact that the Federal Communications Commission approved HDCP in 2004, despite known flaws that researchers claim will result in the copy protection being broken 1-2 years after being introduced to the public. This means that the image constraint token might prevent consumers from watching HD video without serving its intended purpose. Movie studios such as Sony and Universal have promised not to activate the image constraint token for titles released in the first few years of HD-DVD and Blu-ray, to allow consumers time to switch to compatible hardware. Nevertheless, many consumers view the image constraint token as a hindrance.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
EasyTechJunkie, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

EasyTechJunkie, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.