Congress: "Merry Chrismas! We're Turning Off Your Analog Outs"

The House Judiciary Committee today introduced a bill (HR 4569) to close the
analog hole.

Here¹s what we had to say about the draft version of the bill.

The government is proposing that devices (consumer electronics, computers,
software) manufactured after a certain date respond to a copy-protection
signal or watermark in a digital video stream, and pass along that signal
when converting the video to analog. The same goes for analog video streams,
to pass on the protection to the digital video outputs.

The technology Congress is proposing (VEIL) is derived from one that
originated with assorted interactive Batman toys that allowed the toys to
respond to Batman television shows or videos. How cool‹at least for toys.

So, essentially, the government wants your future TV, TiVo, computer, cell
phone, Final Cut Pro, (input your favorite analog signal viewing /
converting device here) to respond to the Bat Signal.

There are some details in the legislation that have yet to be fully
understood, concerning protection of content that is supported by business
models ( prerecorded media, video on demand, pay-per-view,
subscription-on-demand) and ³undefined² business models. And much of the
process has to be approved, not by the FCC, but by the Patent and Trademark
Office. Why the USPTO? Not because they¹re an ³expert agency² like the FCC,
but because the bill was introduced in the Judiciary Committee, which
doesn¹t necessarily have jurisdiction over the FCC.

Perhaps needless to say, Public Knowledge is against government mandated DRM
and other similar tech mandates.

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