[mythtv-users] Broadcast flag (tell me why myth users should care technically?)

Wendy Seltzer wendy at seltzer.com
Sun May 8 23:53:17 UTC 2005

At 3:02 PM -0600 5/8/05, Endaf Jones wrote:
>Thank you Joe for your comments.
>>Very simply: If the Broadcast flag becomes law, all ATSC recording
>>devices with Linux drivers will no longer be sold.  Your hardware
>>selection will GO AWAY.  That's why it is important, even to Canadians.
>However (and I'm not trying to be argumentative, but rather stir the 
>pot in order to make the readers think about what is truly 
>The point I'm trying to say here is that, irregardless if our 
>ATSC/DVB PCI card vendors honor the BF (Broadcast Flag) or not, does 
>it really matter?  What would be the tangible difference it bit 
>streams coming out of the cards?  Are they not simply passing the 
>stream down to the OS and isn't it the OS (or perhaps the player) 
>that needs to honor/control the BF legislation requirements instead?

The BF requires "compliant devices" not to transmit unencrypted 
high-def streams over any user-accessible bus.  Instead, they must 
implement the flag in a manner "robust against user modification" -- 
so if they'd seen the flag, they could only allow down-rez'd signals 
over the PCI bus for capture or playback.

That's why it would be impossible to build a MythTV system around a 
BF-compliant card.  Anytime the flag were applied, you wouldn't be 
able to get the stream at all.


>Is there a whole other aspect of the BF concept that isn't being 
>talked about?  Is the problem really going to be the application 
>(storage and playback as in "MythTV") that needs to be BF compliant 
>and not the hardware?
># Endaf
>Joe Barnhart wrote:
>>--- Endaf Jones <jonese at zener.com> wrote:
>>>Why does the flag matter to us myth users ? (in terms of hardware
>>Yes, technically, some savvy Canadian company could start creating and
>>shipping Linux ATSC cards, but they could not be sold in the U.S. 
>>Without a major market, it would be prohibitive to develop the ICs 
>>card (remember, the current IC makers are U.S. based and would have to
>>honor the ruling.)
>>Of course, any ATSC recording hardware acquired NOW will never be
>>limited by the Broadcast flag -- they are "grandfathered" under the
>>Broadcast flag ruling.  Which is why there's been such a run on cards
>>in the U.S.
>>The Broadcast flag provision that was just struck down was a "ruling"
>>by our FCC, which is just an executive department and lacked the
>>authority to create new law.  The issue will now be brought to Congress
>>where the MPAA will have to spread large amounts of money to buy enough
>>"access" (i.e. votes) to pass their law. (I admit to being just a tiny
>>bit cynical when it comes to copyright issues and our legislative
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Wendy Seltzer -- wendy at seltzer.com || wendy at eff.org
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School

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