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Digital Broadcast Flag Bill Revisited

Postby SlyckTom » Mon Jan 23, 2006 1:24 pm

The American entertainment industry, largely represented by the RIAA and MPAA, are pushing for a new legislative effort aimed at deterring the proliferation of high definition material on file-sharing networks. As technology marches forward, our current analog audio and video broadcasts will be replaced by high definition radio and television. With the price of high definition TV and radio devices plummeting, the RIAA and MPAA are concerned that perfect digital copies will find their way on file-sharing and P2P networks. Indeed as this material is already finding its way online, these entertainment trade organizations are launching their latest attempt to stop the hemorrhaging by supporting the “Digital Content Protection Act of 2006.”

The Digital Content Protection Act (DCPA) at this point is a proposed bill. Specifically, the bill is an amendment to Title 47, Part 303 of the US Code of Federal Regulations. This Title and Part <a href=http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode47/usc_sec_47_00000303----000-.html target=_blank>articulates</a> the powers and duties of the Federal Communications Commission. The DCPA would add two important amendments to this Title and Part:

1) “[Give the FCC the] authority to adopt regulations governing digital television receivers to the extent necessary to implement redistribution control…” and

2) “[Give the FCC the] authority to adopt such regulations governing digital audio broadcast and satellite digital audio radio transmissions and digital audio receiving devices that are appropriate to prevent the indiscriminate unauthorized copying…”

In other words, this bill represents the reintroduction of the broadcast flag. The broadcast flag is digital code that accompanies a high definition audio or video transmission with the intention to limiting unauthorized replication. Digital radio or television manufacturers would be required to incorporate devices capable of receiving and interpreting these flags in order to prevent consumers from copying high definition programming.

As many will recall, the FCC attempted to implement broadcast flag technology as early as November 2003, but was thwarted by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. The appeals court stated the FCC overstepped its bounds, as it did not have the power or authority to force HD radio or television manufacturers to implement broadcast flag technology. The DCPA resolves these issues by giving the FCC the power and authority necessary to implement broadcast flag technology.

Broadcast flag technology has long been an enormous point of contention. Loved by the entertainment industry, hated by consumer and technology groups, broadcast flag technology is a hotly contested item. Although defeated in May of 2005, the Senate Commerce Committee is scheduled to hold hearings on its reintroduction on Tuesday, January 24th. Like everything in life, there are two sides to this increasingly lengthy drama.

On one side stands consumer advocacy and technology manufacturing groups. In particular, the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) has been predominantly vocal and active in preventing broadcast flag measures from becoming policy. The EFF is greatly concerned over a specific section of the bill, where the consumer organization contends the DCPA would freeze fair use rights entitled to consumers.

The bill specifies a certain criteria digital audio and video receivers must comply with in order to receive FCC approval. Specifically the DCPA states any proposed regulations aimed at preventing unauthorized duplication must “permit customary historic use of broadcast content by consumers to the extent such use is consistent with applicable law…” Although this is a permissive criterion, the EFF feels this deflects fair use. Fair use, the EFF argues, is a forward-looking doctrine, not one that resides in the past. If allowed to pass, the EFF feels the future of technological innovation may be stymied, as “new gizmos will have to be submitted to the FCC for approval, where MPAA and RIAA lobbyists can kill it in the crib.”

Taking the converse position is the RIAA and MPAA. Long lobbying for broadcast flag technology, these trade organizations have testified such technology is imperative for their survival. Without it, everyone from artists, songwriters, broadcasters, advertisers and on-demand music services such as iTunes will experience a wide range of disastrous effects. The RIAA also takes exception to the EFF’s claim that fair use and technological innovation will be crushed, as it has articulated it is not interested in preventing consumers from making copies of music from the radio – much as they are permitted to do now.

“The recording industry is not seeking to (1) stop or delay the rollout of HD Radio or other platforms; (2) prevent consumers from listening to radio as they do today; (3) prevent time-shifting of radio programming; or (4) prevent a consumer from hitting a record button when a song comes on that they like.”

Whenever two completely polarized views clash, middle ground is usually reached. Perhaps the most favorable section of this bill dictates that all sides must come together and discuss its implementation. The EFF, technology groups and other pro-consumer advocacy organization groups have been successful in fending off broadcast flag technology in the past. How they will fair this round is anyone’s guess. While the EFF may not obtain an absolute victory, it’s doubtful the RIAA and MPAA will either.
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Postby IceCube » Mon Jan 23, 2006 1:35 pm

Nice article Tom.

Actully, has anyone tried running a High Definition show on their computer? I hear high-end computers can't really handle all that data flow.
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Postby Dormant707 » Mon Jan 23, 2006 2:35 pm

The two words High Definition. Wonderful quality, amazing quality actually, but at present, it is a standard that is a big problem. Yes, TV sets' prices have dropped, but not enough. And to convince the public to change over? That is the great trick for broadcasters to pull off.

As I understand it, 2009 is the date for the death of analogue in the US. I reckon that as that date draws nearer, the great switch off will become a political hot potato - something that the politicians are not seeing at present. I don't have the figures to back up what I am saying, but I would ask the question: how many analogue NTSC sets are out there in the US? And in each household, how many sets are kept? Average of 3 sets a household? Very possible.

Now try and convince the millions of people that currently have analogue television sets to buy a shiny new set at around an average of lets say $200 - you will have a massive consumer backlash. People are used to paying minimal to get the maximum.

There are going to also be environmental issues with the dumping of old television sets, but that is another issue for another day...

By the way, this debate has been discussed a many good hour by the technicians and engineers of the television broadcasting world. There will have to be a compromise - both analogue and digital broadcasts for the foreseeable future. There is no doubt about that.

So the broadcast flag issue will not be a problem today, but one day, analogue will be merely a part of history. It is going to take years for analogue to disappear - it will, but not until people make the change - at their discretion - not a legislator's whims and desires. I know that here in the UK, there are major issues about pensioners' rights, the disabled rights, the unemployed rights and so on. Yes, freeview (digital topset box) has been catching on, but there are still sufficient numbers to cause political ructions at Westminster because the politicians realise that 2012 is a very close date.
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Postby pritesh23 » Mon Jan 23, 2006 7:01 pm

I got an e-mail from my senator saying that the broadcast flag has been taken out of the bill.
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Postby Wham » Mon Jan 23, 2006 7:31 pm

That's very interesting news pritesh. I think that if it hasn't been taken out of the bill, it should be. Why in the world should a broadcast flag ever come to pass. It's like saying the U.S. Government should protect Hollywood at all costs. Let's step on everybody's rights so that these rich greedy bastards can control the world.
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Postby devilwolf » Mon Jan 23, 2006 7:37 pm

Wham wrote:That's very interesting news pritesh. I think that if it hasn't been taken out of the bill, it should be. Why in the world should a broadcast flag ever come to pass. It's like saying the U.S. Government should protect Hollywood at all costs. Let's step on everybody's rights so that these rich greedy bastards can control the world.


Hollywood Cartels (Studios, Actors, Unions, Guilds, etc) are a major source of money for the Democrats and Republicans, so it make sense that they want to protect their gravy train.
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here is numbers of lawmakers who support broadcast flag bill

Postby navin75 » Mon Jan 23, 2006 7:52 pm

1. navinlovesanu@yahoo.com
Here all lawmaker phone number who support the bill


20 congressjerks who want the Broadcast Flag -- give 'em a call and
give 'em what for
Twenty suicidal congresscritters are calling for the speedy adoption of
a broadcast flag, trying to unmake the work that the courts did this
past May when they killed the initiative. The broadcast flag says that
all digital TV technology has to be approved by Hollywood's
bought-and-paid-for regulators, and the rubric for it is that if we
don't give Hollywood this unprecedented veto, they'll stop making stuff
available for digital TV. N


Find out if your rep is on the list here.


John Shadegg, R-AZ, (202) 225-3361
Mary Bono, R-CA, (202) 225-5330
George Radanovich, R-CA, (202) 225-4540
John Shimkus, R-IL (202) 225-5271
Bobby Rush, D-IL, (202) 225-4372
Ed Whitfield, R-KY, (202) 225-3115
Albert Wynn, D-MD, (202) 225-8699
Charles Pickering, R-MS, (202) 225-5031
Lee Terry, R-NE, (202) 225-4155
Charles Bass, R-NH, (202) 225-5206
Mike Ferguson, R-NJ, (202) 225-5361
Frank Pallone, D-NJ, (202) 225-4671
Eliot Engel, D-NY, (202) 225-2464
Vito Fossella, R-NY, (202) 225-3371
Edolphus Towns, D-NY, (202) 225-5936
John Sullivan, R-OK, (202) 225-2211
Michael Doyle, D-PA, (202) 225-2135
Marsha Blackburn, R-TN, (202) 225-2811
Bart Gordon, D-TN, (202) 225-4231
Charles Gonzalez, D-TX, (202) 225-3236
I


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Postby MrFredPFL » Mon Jan 23, 2006 11:56 pm

danny - unless i am mistaken, you are looking at the changeover to HD in the US the wrong way. my understanding is that there will be no negotiating - the FCC has licensed extra channels for broadcasters so that they can continue to broadcast the old fashioned signal, along with HD, at the same time - and at the end of a 10 year period, the licensing for those extra channels expires. so i don't think there will be any debate about when people will or won't buy new TV sets. they won't have a choice, unless some TV stations choose to ONLY broadcast analog after the 10 year overlap period expires.
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Postby Variant » Tue Jan 24, 2006 12:58 am

a senator from NH is on the list ..... im so ashamed.
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Postby Dormant707 » Tue Jan 24, 2006 2:16 am

MrFredPFL wrote:danny - unless i am mistaken, you are looking at the changeover to HD in the US the wrong way. my understanding is that there will be no negotiating - the FCC has licensed extra channels for broadcasters so that they can continue to broadcast the old fashioned signal, along with HD, at the same time - and at the end of a 10 year period, the licensing for those extra channels expires. so i don't think there will be any debate about when people will or won't buy new TV sets. they won't have a choice, unless some TV stations choose to ONLY broadcast analog after the 10 year overlap period expires.


I painted a theoretical scenario in my earlier posting. It is more about the politics of implementing digital broadcasting than about the broadcast flag, but it has implications for the DRM that the Cartel$ are trying to bring in. Thank you for giving me insight into how they want to bring in the switch over.

The politics of broadcasting are fascinating and I can tell you that it has a lot to do with people's freedom. The broadcast flag may raise a stink too later on, when people discover that their rights have been compromised.

I think that you might see the FCC back down on some of their decisions in the years to come. That is not without precedent.
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Postby Dormant707 » Tue Jan 24, 2006 6:03 pm

These two links confirm what I am saying about HDTV:

http://www.ipsos-na.com/news/pressrelease.cfm?id=2947
http://www.mp3newswire.net/stories/6002/HDTV.html

Thanks to the person who submitted the news to Slyck. HDTV is going to take a while to see an uptake. Is 10 years enough time for the FCC to kill analogue?
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Postby thejynxed » Wed Jan 25, 2006 11:50 am

I watched a Senate panel debate on CSPAN2 today (that took place on Tuesday) about this bill and the broadcast flag. Senator Ted Stevens (R - Alaska), led the panel. It's quite apparent the broadcast flag is coming, not if, but when, as Senator Stevens among several other Republican members of the panel said they plan on getting the broadcast flag adopted ASAP.

Of course the notorious Mitch Bainwol of the RIAA was present, and it was quite amusing to watch Senator Sununu run circles around him about the subject of royalty payments to performers and about how the flag will never get adopted on his watch without exceptions being made to exclude TiVo and other TiVo-like devices, excluding computer-based DVRs like MythTV, current model iPods, and cell phones, public domain content, news casts, political content in the form of video or audio, webcasts, podcasts, and educational use by schools and libraries from being affected by this flag. According to the Senator, "Consumers have the right to time-shift, create as many personal backups as they like, and no matter if you like it or not, they have the right to transfer the media content they paid for to whatever device they own at their own discretion, provided they do not distribute the materials to parties outside of the home." You should have seen old Mitchy-boy's face when he heard that.

They said computers, cd, and dvd recorders however will fall under direct application of the broadcast flag (the aforementioned MythTV, and other computer-based recording setups are the primary target of this flag after all). What was interesting to note, is that the representative of the hardware industry basically told the panel and Mr. Bainwol that any current technological products and any coming up within the next year would NOT be taken off the market and retooled to work with this flag. They also said however, that upcoming versions of the same products released after fiscal years 2006-2007 are subject to broadcast flag requirements IF a bill implementing the flag gets passed. Basically this means that if you want to get gear that won't bow down to the flag, you better buy it now before it is too late, because in the near future, you won't be able to get it anymore.

According to the equipment mentioned, here is a short list of what I heard the flag will apply to:

Sound cards <-computer

Video cards <-computer

cd burners <-both computer and stand-alone, with stand-alone recorders ignoring the flag for designated materials, equipment must still allow backup copies of purchased discs under Fair Use

dvd burners <-both computer and stand-alone, with stand-alone recorders ignoring the flag for designated materials, equipment must still allow backup copies of purchased discs under Fair Use

crt monitors <-computer

MP3s, MP4s, etc, etc, purchased via online services (this one was only listed as a possibility, they don't know quite how they would get it to work yet, the hardware components however, already have plenty of stuff in store)

lcds <- television and computer-based models

plasma screens <- television and computer-based models

future models of video iPods

future models of audio iPods

future models of generic portable MP3 players

future models of generic portable video players

home versions of blu-ray and hd-dvd players, provided that there is still some mechanism available for the consumer to create perfect backups of their purchased discs under Fair Use

blu-ray and hd-dvd burners for the computer

hd radios <-excluding news, sports, political, educational, talk radio and public domain programming

hd television sets not using lcd or plasma technology


Kind of a long short list, and I am sure I forgot a few things, but basically that is the gist of it.

Apparently the target of the flag is not people who use TiVo, not people who record songs off the radio, but people who record songs, shows, etc and put them up on Kazaa, Bit Torrent, etc. for distribution. This broadcast flag it seems, is directly aimed at internet "copyright infringers".
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Postby jaleal » Wed Jan 25, 2006 1:01 pm

dannybhoi wrote:As I understand it, 2009 is the date for the death of analogue in the US. I reckon that as that date draws nearer, the great switch off will become a political hot potato - something that the politicians are not seeing at present. I don't have the figures to back up what I am saying, but I would ask the question: how many analogue NTSC sets are out there in the US? And in each household, how many sets are kept? Average of 3 sets a household? Very possible.

Now try and convince the millions of people that currently have analogue television sets to buy a shiny new set at around an average of lets say $200 - you will have a massive consumer backlash. People are used to paying minimal to get the maximum.

There are going to also be environmental issues with the dumping of old television sets, but that is another issue for another day...


I work for Comcast Cable, and i know that our company and others like ours are going to be providing people with mandatory digital converters when that happens if they don't have a digital tv. So it doesn't mean that everyone has to go buy a new tv, although it would be better if they did, but that's another issue :p
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Postby Dormant707 » Thu Jan 26, 2006 4:31 am

jaleal wrote:I work for Comcast Cable, and i know that our company and others like ours are going to be providing people with mandatory digital converters when that happens if they don't have a digital tv. So it doesn't mean that everyone has to go buy a new tv, although it would be better if they did, but that's another issue :p


@jaleal - It is a very interesting fact you have disclosed. It does confirm my point though - people are going to be slow in moving over to digital, so much so that your company and other cable companies are going to have to provide d to a converters. Now I am not familiar with the penetration of cable in the US, but here in the UK, you only get cable in the cities - where I live, it is terrestrial or sat.

My question concerning the big switch over are: What is going to happen with terrestrial broadcasters? How is this going to affect the viewership of the national broadcasters - ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox? Satellite viewers could get new receivers that could do d to a conversion, and even HD to PAL/NTSC, but at what cost to viewers?

For me, these questions are crucial as to how long analogue is going to be around for. Another point that I must raise a question on, is what about the little broadcasters? The small regional guys that are affiliated to the big broadcasters - can they afford to the cost of the upgrade? Yes, I am sure that a lot of the little broadcasters are already recording in digital, but the cost of changing the broadcast chain is quite heavy. I would be interested to hear answers to these questions....
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Postby MrFredPFL » Thu Jan 26, 2006 11:36 am

thanks for the links, danny :) however, i don't really see anything in there to indicate that the timetable is in question. all i see is survey info - but what the public wants, and what they get, are 2 different things here :lol: example - we recently saw the postage rate for first-class mail raised from 37 to 39 cents for the first ounce. i assure you, the majority of people did not want this to happen, but that didn't stop it ;)

and i don't see the distinction about satellite viewers being able to get a converter. unless i'm mistaken, an HD to analog converter would work on any HD input, regardless of its source- so as far as i am aware, a converter is a converter, whether the incoming signal is broadcast, on cable, or from a satellite.
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Postby Dormant707 » Thu Jan 26, 2006 1:39 pm

MrFredPFL wrote:thanks for the links, danny :) however, i don't really see anything in there to indicate that the timetable is in question. all i see is survey info - but what the public wants, and what they get, are 2 different things here :lol: example - we recently saw the postage rate for first-class mail raised from 37 to 39 cents for the first ounce. i assure you, the majority of people did not want this to happen, but that didn't stop it ;)

and i don't see the distinction about satellite viewers being able to get a converter. unless i'm mistaken, an HD to analog converter would work on any HD input, regardless of its source- so as far as i am aware, a converter is a converter, whether the incoming signal is broadcast, on cable, or from a satellite.


There are couple of points here:

Television is a political hot potato - this is what I am trying to get across - people will rebel if they get screwed - they don't mind paying for television, but it must be convenient. That is the point I am trying to make - what could be...

What does happen when people cannot watch television on their current set? That is the big question. A good example: a show is shown on television, but the transmitter goes down - the public phones the broadcaster, and they rescreen the show. That is how powerful the public are when it comes to television. Think outside of what has been said and think more along the lines of what could be said in the future...

Now to correct you on something:

and i don't see the distinction about satellite viewers being able to get a converter. unless i'm mistaken, an HD to analog converter would work on any HD input, regardless of its source- so as far as i am aware, a converter is a converter, whether the incoming signal is broadcast, on cable, or from a satellite.


What I was referring to is this:

HDTV comes in a few flavours. Here in the UK, it will be 1080i. That means 1080 lines. Now if you have a current satellite receiver that is not HDTV compliant, if you are in the US - 525 lines, mostly everywhere else 625 lines. HDTV is another format all together. I have worked with HDTV cameras on an outside broadcast truck - when we sent out the television signal, it was in 625 lines - why? Because that is what was required. Now with regards to satellite receivers, they can build a Digital to Analogue converter into the box, which would put out a NTSC or PAL signal. This is the question that I was asking about satellite earlier.

I think you misunderstood what I was saying. The change over to digital - now digital can encompass standard 525/625 lines or HDTV. Just keep that in mind too. Digital is not merely HDTV, but simply means that the signal is being sent out in digits and need to be re-encoded in order to see a picture.

I work in the industry and I understand the implications. What you have read in the press may not be very accurate. That is why I have been saying that digital is coming, but not as soon as people would like. The UK already is starting to debate the issue, and I can tell you that engineers are aware of major issues that are going to hinder the process of killing analogue broadcaster, issues that the regulators and legislators have not even yet begun to think about.... That is what I have been trying to get across in my posts. The political issues surrounding television present many obstacles to change. The vast majority of the public will not be happy - trust me politicians know what happens when voters are not happy.
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Postby MrFredPFL » Fri Jan 27, 2006 12:15 pm

danny: i understand what you are saying. i just don't think this will prove to be a case where they change their minds (sic.) but, since none of us can forsee the future (well, i take it back - there are several people here who seem to think they can, but i don't think either you or i are in that group ;) ,) we will just have to wait and see :lol:

i will personally be very surprised if they restructure the timetable. i think this will happen on schedule, but only time will tell. tell u what - if they delay their announced schedule, and u make it over to the states, the drinks are on me, m8 :)
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Postby thejynxed » Fri Jan 27, 2006 2:27 pm

They already reset the date once. Now they claim the current finalized date is "written in stone".
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Postby MrFredPFL » Fri Jan 27, 2006 9:22 pm

thejynxed wrote:They already reset the date once. Now they claim the current finalized date is "written in stone".


i was not aware of this. do u have any more info about that?
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Postby Exothermicus » Fri Jan 27, 2006 11:03 pm

AS long as they insist of putting restrictions like the broadcast flad and HDMI authentication for high res display. I refuse to spend any money upgrading to HD capable equipment. I'm shopping for a nice HD tuner capture card, that can simply capture the MPEG2 transport stream to disk. But beyond that until the industry quits listening to the AA's and treating us customers like theives, they are not getting my money if the device contains restrictions.

Go after the actual theives, and quit trying to limit what your customers can legaly do within their own homes.

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Postby curzlgt » Sat Jan 28, 2006 9:05 pm

Some senators are questioning......

History and Senator Stevens' iPod

Yesterday's Senate Commerce Committee hearing on the Broadcast Flag--and its younger, brattier, brother, the RIAA's proposed "Audio Flag"--swung a little wildly from its pre-ordained course.

It began with committee chairman Senator Stevens and Senator Inouye, his Democrat counterpart, declaring, as with all good anti-piracy measures, that Something Had To Be Done, and that Congress should pass the flag as soon as possible.

The agenda seemed set. In the face of it, those who objected to the Broadcast Flag--technologists, librarians, and civil libertarians--were forced to spend much of their Congressional time requesting narrow exceptions that might lessen its damage.

Then two things happened...

The first was the appearance of Senator John Sununu, the Republican Junior Senator for New Hampshire. Sununu, an MIT grad, interrupted to ask the question so far unconsidered by his colleagues: Do we need this mandate at all?

He pointed out that "we have a whole history of similar technological innovation that has shown us that the market can respond with its own protection to the needs of the artists." And he concluded with one of the most damning depictions of the ahistorical nature of the flag (clip from Congressional RealVideo) you'll hear on the Hill:

The second revelation, dropped into the later discussion of the RIAA's audio flag, was that Senator Stevens' daughter bought him an iPod.


The committee ended with Stevens noting that the committee had a lot of work, and while this was a very important issue, bills could get stuck after the objections of just one committee member if there were holes.

As the hearing showed, the holes in these flags are large, and its complex consequences are dawning on both houses.

And God help the broadcast flag-makers if someone buys Senator Stevens a video iPod
.

Now thats a cause i'll gladly donate to....

Senators figure out the Broadcast Flag, curse it as an abomination!

“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long, plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side,” - Hunter S Thompson
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