[mythtv-users] FCC requiring cable operators to encrypt all signals?

Daniel Kristjansson danielk at cuymedia.net
Thu Sep 6 23:44:47 UTC 2007

On Thu, 2007-09-06 at 15:58 -0700, Tom Greer wrote:

> I received an polite follow-up call from a Cox representative telling
> me that the fix they implemented that re-enabled firewire output from
> the DCT-6xxx set-top boxes was an "interim solution".  The next
> planned update to their firmware will still output via firewire;
> however, all output will be encrypted.

That is illegal.

> According to my contact, this is all being done in accordance with a
> new FCC mandate.  The firewire signal can only be decrypted by devices
> that will ensure that content owners copyright restrictions (for
> example,  whether a stream can be copied, how long it can be stored,
> the number of times it can be viewed, etc.)
> Please help me understand whether I am getting real information or
> FUD.  

FUD. The FCC allows the cable operator, at their option, to encrypt
the output of certain channels such as C-SPAN. But the FCC does not
allow the cable operator to encrypt the channels you receive over
the air such as ABC, NBC, etc. The person who talked to you was
probably supposed to tell you that they will be encrypting C-SPAN,
but not encrypting the channels they are not allowed to encrypt by
law. The droid you talked to misunderstood and just caught the "what
we're planning to do is legal" and the "some channels will be
encrypted" parts of their conversation with the lawyer. Before I
dropped cable, CableVision was encrypting C-SPAN but only one of the
HD movie channels and none of the OTA channels, this was within their
rights; but I got tired of paying $80/month to and still watching
C-SPAN from the c-span.org website and so dropped the cable service.

It still may not be legal for your cable operator to deny you access
to C-SPAN. Cable operators run their cables and place their equipment
on property owned by your local municipality. For this privilege they
pay the local city or county a franchise fee and agree to make certain
channels available on various tiers of their service and whatever
else the property owner demands in negotiations with the franchisee.

-- Daniel

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