MPAA demonstrating analog hole at CES

MPAA demonstrating analog hole at CES

Summary: By way of Jim Hock & Co. over at 463 Communications, the Motion Picture Association of America is apparently demonstrating the awfulness of the proverbial analog hole that recently proposed legislation is looking to cork: ...

TOPICS: Health

By way of Jim Hock & Co. over at 463 Communications, the Motion Picture Association of America is apparently demonstrating the awfulness of the proverbial analog hole that recently proposed legislation is looking to cork:

...And when Hollywood studios are concerned, presto, legislation appears.  House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner and the committee's top Democrat, John Conyers, have introduced a bill (H.R. 4569), that would put locks on analog conversion devices....

Yesterday, in a blog I wrote about that legislation (which addresses video), I openly pondered whether or not we'll see the same sort of legislation come down the path for audio (rendering just about every speaker on the market obsolete).  In response, ZDNet regular "Yagotta B. Kidding" wrote:

Speakers are already moving to digital feed, so it's not that hard to imagine doing the same thing to them that the display interface crowd have done to video: work a cryptographic handshake with "attestation" that only works with "trusted" speakers....The real stinker is that a good speaker puts out an audio stream that's close enough to the original that it can be captured (very easily) by any kind of audio recording equipment. Video capture is tricky enough that adding "you aren't allowed to take a picture of that" gizmos to video recorders doesn't require crippling every electronic device on the planet, but putting locks on audio frequency stuff is another matter altogether.....Audio frequencies cover dang near everything, from your blood pressure monitor to engine controls. Mandating "content protection" that covers them will require redesign of nearly every electronic device in existence, with the least expensive ones priced clean out of the market.

But then, "Kidding" switched back to the video issue with an interesting question:

Who is liable when it turns out that "video content protection" features in medical imaging equipment resulted in a preventable death?

Topic: Health

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  • They will get their law

    Unless hardware manufaturers step up to the plate with opposition this bill will become law. Really, only a small percentage of hardware companies will be affected anyway.

    There will be no meaningful public opposition. Most people know little or nothing about technology as it relates to law.

    I'm sure they have Hatch in the bullpen in the Senate ready to pitch when this bill gets through the House.
    Tim Patterson
    • Don't be so sure, post-Abramoff

      Right now we're seeing everyone in government, all the way up to the President, scrambling to disassociate themselves from corruption and bribes, courtesy of Jack Abramoff working out a plea deal. I have a feeling that a lot of these bought and paid-for laws are going to be put on the backburner until the uproar calms down.

      Note that there's a huge scandal brewing in Canada, where they're not as accustomed to having their representatives accept bribes:
      tic swayback
      • Maybe

        I'd like to think you're right about the Abramoff scandal leading to change but I predict that those invloved are already covering their butts and Washington will ride out this storm and will be back to business as usual.

        Without serious campaign finance reform and a long hard look at lobbying practices not much will change.
        Tim Patterson
        • I don't expect huge changes

          I think you're right in your cynical approach, but I do think we'll see
          a temporary backing away from the blatant accepting of bribes that
          goes on right now. In the short term, it probably means this bill is
          dead. They'll get back to it eventually, but by then, technology will
          have moved on.
          tic swayback
  • Destroying technology and innovation

    Here's an open letter to Congress from the CEO of Neuros:

    Dear Chairman Sensenbrenner and Representative Conyers:

    We are writing to oppose HR 4569, the Digital Transition Content Security Act.

    We share Hollywood?s view that pirating intellectual property is wrong, but we believe the proposed bill will not only do nothing to protect against piracy, it will actually reduce legitimate media sales, unnecessarily harm consumers, and have a chilling effect on innovators of new media technologies.

    Today, we make a next generation digital VCR of sorts that would effectively be outlawed if HR 4569 becomes law. This device records to digital form from analog sources of all varieties: TV broadcasts, DVDs, etc. This device is meant to make it easier for consumers to adapt content they have already obtained legitimately for use on portable video devices, including those made by our own company and by others such as the Sony PSP and Apple iPod. Although it is theoretically possible that devices like ours could be used for piracy, the reality is that they present little practical threat since vastly better technologies are already widely used by pirates. These alternate technologies are already outlawed by the DMCA and would be made no more illegal and no less used by the proposed legislation.

    Devices like ours, on the other hand, are emerging on the scene to provide consumers with a legal and moral option for getting more use out of content they obtain legitimately, and are thereby providing them with an incentive to purchase content rather than pirate it.

    The so-called Analog Hole is used primarily by law-abiding consumers who want to time-shift or place-shift their legally obtained content. It is most definitely not the method of choice for content pirates. Why would anybody steal content by recording an analog signal when they can more easily make illegal but digitally perfect copies by ?cracking the encryption? directly on the PC? Put another way, trying to reduce copyright piracy by closing the Analog Hole is like outlawing the sun roof to prevent thieves from stealing car stereos. In either case, such legislation would deprive consumers of choice and enjoyment while doing little to reduce theft.

    History has repeatedly shown that everybody wins when laws and technology make media more, not less, accessible to consumers. When compulsory licensing was put in place forcing all record labels to license their music for playback on radio, consumers lives were enriched immeasurably and content providers and consumer electronics companies reaped great profits. The same was true for all involved when the Courts legalized the VCR and later the portable MP3 player.
    The Supreme Court has wisely made a distinction between those technologies that are enabling piracy, and those technologies that could enable piracy. Without such a distinction, huge areas of very important and legitimate technical innovation will be threatened in the name of stopping a theoretical threat to intellectual property.

    Congress' desire to protect and support the important entertainment industry against pirates is laudable, but consumer rights and the rights of technology holders do not need to be trampled in the process. We believe that preserving the ability for companies like ours to develop the entertainment technologies of tomorrow is as much in the long-term best interests of Hollywood as it is for consumers, the American economy, and our own company.

    Although such a strategic view of the future has never been embraced by Big Media, history has shown that if they are once again unsuccessful in holding back the tide of advancing technology, they will once again be the beneficiaries of their own failure.

    It is our sincere hope that Congress and our elected officials will look to history and do the right thing for everybody concerned.


    Joe Born
    Neuros Technology International, LLC
    tic swayback
    • MPAA should learn from the RIAA...

      Start reducing our ability to use the content we purchased in a manner we wish.. Watch your sales decline...

      Then again, they'll probably blame everything on pirates instead of their own idiocy.
    • A quote I appreciate.

      Although such a strategic view of the future has never been embraced by Big Media, history has shown that if they are once again unsuccessful in holding back the tide of advancing technology, they will once again be the beneficiaries of their own failure.
      Anton Philidor
      • Too true

        Given that the MPAA now makes more money from video sales and
        rentals than they do from box office receipts, one should always
        remember how hard they tried to make the VCR illegal.
        tic swayback
  • It will be utterly useless

    It will be utterly useless to only have this legislation in the US if other countries won't go allong.

    I expect that getting these kind of laws passed in the EU will cost an enourmous amount of time as opposition is stronger compared to the US.

    Same could apply to the far east. In the end it would only lead to an enormous circus of "illegal" content being rushed into the states.

    Indeed better to wake up then to sit back an wait and something stupid is implemented.
  • This would cost a lot and create a new Mafia

    This will not be cheap. Low end headphones, for example, are mostly a magnet some wires and little padding. With this law they would have to have chips and digital inputs added. The same is true for video devices to a lesser extent as they already have these chips. It will also requires hardening, because at some point video and audio have to be made human perceivable and the hardware and wires for this have to be shielded from end user's access. They will also need to watermarking all content, but then they will run into the issue with the inputs on all devices. In this case all devices that input data would have to have a extra chips added to read and react to this watermark and then assign and build the proper rights. This would turn a simple audio or video recorders into a full blown CPU. Now this may cost less nowadays, but that cost would still be enormous and more so because only the US would require the extra stuff. Now this would be made even worst by the fact that most companies will want to implement this via a chip that can be placed into their ordinary products to add the features to save on cost. The law would therefore have to force them to harden their products or all you would have to do is pry out the chip to remove the blocks. This means integration and special designs for every manufacture on Earth just for US products. Because the market is so large they might still do it but it will cost everyone a good portion of their profits and take many things away from the consumer thus lowering demand. I am sure many companies would not want to take the cost burdens and would fear the lawsuits and being banned should their product fail to meet a MPAA - RIAA review. That is why I think they will fight this. Then their is the black market this would create. Can you imagine what this law would do. Think Prohibition amplified 1000s of fold. Any company outside the US could sell their ordinary products to the US black market at a premium and since their products are legal in their own countries and they are cheaper to make than a US lock down product it would be all gain an nothing to lose. Think about who they would be selling to as well. This law would create a new digital mafia which is what happens any time their is high demand for an illegal product. Then again maybe the politicians do want this. Think about the "The War on Plugs!"
  • If you want to outlaw D/A converters...

    If you want to outlaw D/A converters, you'd have to throw almost everyone on the planet in jail and destroy every video card, sound card, camcorder, cd player, home audio reciever, portable mp3 player, etc... in existance.
    Digial to analog conversion exists in almost every consumer electronic device known to man. The "analog hole", give me a break long enough to stop laughing!!! The hole is called DRM, and it will be filled with angry consumers who fair use rights are being trampled on!
    xunil skcor
    • I will just buy my electronics from another country.

      Fine, put HDCP on all D/A converters in the US, I will just buy my electronics from another country. I'm sure other countries will never become the totalitarian "land of the slaves" that the US is quickly becomming.
      xunil skcor