See Inside September 2005

Flagging Copy Rights

Piracy protection may redefine home recording

The right to protect against unauthorized copying of digital television and film seemed to take a step back for the entertainment industry and content provider--and a step forward for the consumer and video pirate--when a federal court struck down the planned July 1 introduction of the "broadcast flag." The flag is a set of bits in a digital transmission that can prevent recording. But advocates of free recording are not celebrating the defeat of the flag--transmissions standards currently being devised could trump the ruling.

The consortium creating the standards is the Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) Project, a group that includes broadcasters, mobile phone companies, set-top box manufacturers and movie studios. Most of its work defines ways to transmit, encode and format data. But the next version of the DVB standards will include a scheme called Copy Protection/Copy Management (CPCM), which, if implemented, may give copyright holders even more control than the broadcast flag would have.

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