Hollywood May Seek Legislation to Plug “Analog Hole”
If the entertainment industry can’t agree with hardware, software and electronics producers on how best to protect digital content, they will look to Congress again this year for legislation mandating a technological solution, the National Journal (subscription req’d) reports.
The problem “can be fixed with legislation later this year,” requiring technology companies to apply anti-piracy technology to the analog outputs of computers, digital televisions and digital videodisc players, said Ron Wheeler, senior vice president of content protection for Fox.
“I would guess that Congress would do what it takes to help the United States’ number one export industry,” said Mitch Singer, executive vice president of Sony’s digital policy group. “At some point, we are going to need help. We may see some interesting assistance from Congress.”
Wheeler and Singer, who dominated a panel on the piracy of feature films, said more anti-piracy tools must be mandated. Wheeler said he believes a proposal will be put forward later this year to require computer companies to use technologies that detect invisible watermarks on analog content and stop the copying or redistribution of that content.
The mandate would apply to “devices that digitize analog inputs of all kinds” and require them to apply digital copyright restrictions “on all analog-to-digital conversion,” Wheeler said. He said the technology would help close the analog hole and fight movie piracy from Movielink, from digital video recorders or from DVDs.
Fortunately, the entertainment industry didn’t get the action they wanted in 2002 when they last tried this (though they did get a favorable FCC decision in 2003 requiring digital TV manufacturers to honor a “digital flag” protecting content). The technology community was united in opposing it. We’ll see if the alliance holds this time around….