[mythtv-users] "Analog hole" legislation introduced - 12/18/2005 7:28:09 PM, by Eric Bangeman

Steve Adeff adeffs at gmail.com
Mon Dec 19 14:52:44 EST 2005


 "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 

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 

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 

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 

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. 


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