on copy-protecting HDTV

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Technology
October 28th, 2003 • 2:24 am

Salon has a long feature article on the push by the MPAA to force the computer industry to embrace copy-protection technology for HDTV.

It quotes both sides extensively, which means that you have to go through a whole lot of gobbledegook from the MPAA. As the EFF’s von Lohmann explains, the proposed copy-protection scheme for HDTV is not just a little useless, it’s absolutely and completely useless, and it should take somebody only about 30 seconds to figure that out. Yet the movie industry is just as unable to accept that fact as the recording industry is. The difference is, of course, that perfect copies of HDTV signals would be such huge files that it will take at least decades before we have the technology that would make handling such files practical.

The movie/TV industry is simply unable to rethink its approach to content distribution in light of the development of digital technologies. Remember that this is the same industry where some people believe that fast-forwarding through commercials on a SHOW recorded with a VCR is illegal and should be banned.

The traditional advertising model is obviously no longer appropriate. The MPAA issues threats about “the end of free TV”. This must be a joke. There’s no such thing as free TV. I pay over $50 a month for digital TV, and I still have to endure commercials on live broadcasts, etc. Only a handful of channels offer TV that’s free of advertising, even though I pay for all my channels. Will the MPAA guarantee that, if I pay for them, the HDTV broadcasts that I am interested in will be available to me free of advertising and at a time of my convenience? I see little evidence of this. In other words, in all likelihood, what the MPAA wants is to restrict the freedom that I am legally entitled to as a paying customer. And that’s unacceptable.

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