Hollywood Pushes Bill To Close Analog Hole

By Richard Menta 11/02/05

For those unfamiliar with the term analog hole it applys to the electronic devices we enjoy every day like TVs, VCRs and our stereo/surround systems. The analog hole is the non-digital outputs on these systems that transmit what are called analog signals from one device to another. For example, the output on your VCR to your TV set utilizes old fashioned radio frequency to show the programs recorded. The wires from you stereo to your speakers also employ an analog signal.

With all the effort being spent creating digital rights management (DRM) tools to prevent users from, say, copying digital signals from CD to MP3 player the analog hole completely defeats the effort, because a user only has to run an analog line from the headphone jack direct to a PC or recordable MP3 player to make the copy.

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Of course, making a recording this way takes considerably more time and effort than just ripping a CD at a track every three seconds. First of all the recordings are made in real time so if it is a 4 minute song it takes 4 minutes to record it. Second, the user has to fiddle with all those wires. But it only takes one person to go through all that effort and put it online to defeat the DRM mechanism for all, hence why the media industries want to get rid of it.

The only way to do that is to criminalize its use.

If that sounds ridiculous a bill is starting its paces through Congress that does just that.

According to Reuters the bill will "...prevent companies from manufacturing, importing or selling devices that convert copy-protected digital broadcast program into an analog program...Plugging the "analog hole" and installing a "broadcast flag" are considered by copyright holders as critical to the transition to digital TV".

With such concerns it is amazing that television survived the VCR, that little device that by the mid-90's generated more revenue for the movie industry than the box-office itself. As we transition from the VCR to DVD that fact still holds true.

As Jon Newton said on P2Pnet.net "But that's not spooky enough for the MPAA. For their party trick this year, they want to take one of the most basic and ubiquitous components in multimedia, and encase it within a pile of legally-enforced, complex, and patented proprietary technology - forever."

For more details on the bill Boing Boing has a detailed commentary on it.


Other MP3 stories:
Can iTunes Resurrect Old Time TV?
Apple Portable Does Video. Notes.

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