Old 19th December 2005, 19:26   #1
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"Analog hole" legislation introduced

"Analog hole" legislation introduced

12/18/2005 7:28:09 PM, by Eric Bangeman

A frightening bit of legislation was introduced to the US House Judiciary Committee on Friday. The Digital Transition Content Security Act of 2005 (PDF) is sponsored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) (PDF) and would close that pesky analog hole that poses such a dire threat to the survival of the music and movie industries. The bill was originally planned for introduction in early November, but was tabled after hearings held by the House Subcomittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property.

Calling the ability to convert analog video content to a digital format a "significant technical weakness in content protection," H.R. 4569 would require all consumer electronics video devices manufactured more than 12 months after the DTCSA is passed to be able to detect and obey a "rights signaling system" that would be used to limit how content is viewed and used. That rights signaling system would consist of two DRM technologies, Video Encoded Invisible Light (VEIL) and Content Generation Management System—Analog (CGMS-A), which would be embedded in broadcasts and other analog video content.

Under the legislation, all devices sold in the US would fall under the auspices of the DTCSA: it would be illegal to "manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide or otherwise traffic" in such products. It's a dream-come-true for Hollywood, and in combination with a new broadcast flag legislation (not yet introduced) would strike a near-fatal blow to the long-established right of Fair Use.

According to Reps. Sensenbrenner and Conyers, the legislation is absolutely necessary because of the dire threat PCs and the Internet pose to the content-creation industry's very livelihood. Apparently, it's not nimble enough to keep up with advances in technology. Says Rep. Conyers:

"As one of our most successful industries, it is important that we protect the content community from unfettered piracy. One aspect of that fight is making sure that digital media do not lose their content protection simply because of lapses in technology. This bill will help ensure that technology keeps pace with content delivery."

Ah, yes. The piracy bogeyman. In the same press release, Rep. Sensenbrenner points out that a "software pirate" in Alexandria, Virginia pled guilty to "making $20 million in sales of counterfeit intellectual property." However, the honorable representative from Wisconsin fails to understand that the software market relies on a completely different distribution model than does broadcasting, instead choosing to throw big numbers around in an attempt to make this misguided bill sound like it makes some small shred of sense for consumers.

Reading through the proposed text of the DTSCA, it is easy to see the hand of the MPAA at work. The proposed legislation defines four "Technical Content Protection Responses" that consumer devices will have based on the type of signal transmitted in a broadcast.

* Copy Prohibited Content, which would mark the transmission as off limits for copying or recording of any kind
* Copy Unlimited No Redistribution Content, which means that the analog content could be passed through to a digital device for copying, but redistribution would be limited
* Copy One Generation Content, which would allow viewers to make a single generation of copies
* No Technical Protection Applied, programming that could still be recorded.

It doesn't take too much imagination to see where this is headed.

Once the MPAA and pals have their way, you're going to pay through the nose for even the most basic of Fair Use rights. You're going to pay for the right to rewind and "re-experience" content. The Copy Prohibited Content class, complete with its asinine insta-delete feature is nothing but a back door into attacking what the content industry hates most: your ability to timeshift content.

And this bill is ridiculously hard on timeshifting. Section 201 (b) (1) of the DTCSA gives you all of 90 minutes from the initial reception of a "unit of content" to watch your recordings. Heaven forbid you get a long phone call or an unscheduled visit from a neighbor when you're engaged in some delayed viewing—once that 90-minute window closes you're out of luck until the next broadcast.

Our Fair Use rights have been on the endangered list for the past several years, and the passage of this legislation would mark a habitat loss so severe that it would threaten the very survival of the species. No matter what the MPAA and RIAA tell us, it's not about piracy. It's about squeezing every last dollar out of our pockets if we want to do anything other than watch a live broadcast.

This is bad legislation for everyone except Hollywood and its lackeys. If you are represented by a member of the House Committee on the Judiciary, contact him or her and make your feelings known. Given what's at stake here, expressing your views to your congressional representative and senators is an excellent idea as well.

This is very bad for consumers. The Hollywood is steadily getting on my nerves. First the weak movies being produced, now they want to control how you "use it".

This will most likely get me to write to my congressmen for the second time in a LOOONG TIME.
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Old 19th December 2005, 22:03   #2
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How about we take a vote to return anti-trust laws to our arsenal for keeping companies from getting too far out of hand. This is what these laws are for.

You could chop Walmart, Halliburton, MPAA, RIAA, GE etc. down to bite sized pieces where we could chew on them a lot easier.

Having a record industry that is in charge of the congress and running a private police force is not cool.

I'd have to go past the point of "consumer unfriendly" as my description of this situation.
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