The EFF is calling for others to join the DTV Liberation Front. What is the DTV Liberation Front you ask? It is a group trying to make it easier for non-geeks to set up digital video recorders (Tivo-like devices) that will not be subject to upcoming Federal DRM legislation. A year from today (July 1, 2004), The FCC’s Broadcast Flag Initiative will go into effect, limiting what you may do with the content you watch on your television. Never mind the fact that by law, you have every right to copy content for your own personal . A snippet from the DTV Liberation Front announcement:
Today, you can use any device you like with your television: VCR, Tivo, DVD recorder, home theater receiver, or a PC combining these functions and more. A year from now, when the FCC’s broadcast flag mandate [PDF] takes effect, some of those capabilities will be forbidden.
Responding to pressure from Hollywood, the FCC has adopted a rule requiring future digital television (DTV) tuners to include “content protection” (aka DRM) technologies. Starting next year, all makers of HDTV receivers must build their devices to watch for a broadcast “flag” embedded in programs by copyright holders. When it comes to digital recording, it’ll be Hollywood’s DRM way or the highway. Want to burn that recording digitally to a DVD to save hard drive space? Sorry, the DRM lock-box won’t allow it. How about sending it over your home network to another TV? Not unless you rip out your existing network and replace it with DRMd routers. Kind of defeats the purpose of getting a high definition digital signal, doesn’t it?
As the new law won’t be put into place for a year, the group plans to promote knowledge about buying or building DVRs that are not beholden to the whims of large Media interests. These devices will be “grandfathered in”, so they can be used and sold in the future without violating the law.
But the most important goal, in my opinion, is awareness. We have a year to spread the word to the general public. People may not care at the moment, which is why we need to explain to them that future recording devices will have less capabilities than their current VCRs, purely because Hollywood has pressured our representatives into passing a law that is unfair to us (the consumers), and not in the common good. This is yet another case of legislation created to soothe Hollywood’s fears of losing profits to innovation.
So, if you want the ability to skip commercials, or fast forward through any movie you choose to watch in the future, then you need to check this project out and pass the word.