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Industry closer to protecting content

Apr 29, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Media executives report progress in industry talks aimed at setting standards for protecting high-definition television programming and other digital content from copyright infringement.
“We’re very close to having something that most of the industry would get its arms around,” AOL Time Warner CEO-designate Richard Parsons told a congressional panel last week.
He was referring to a breakthrough on creating a “broadcast flag,” an electronic marker to protect digital TV programs from being illegally copied and redistributed on the Internet.
News Corp. President and Chief Operating Officer Peter Chernin, describing the lack of a broadcast flag as a major impediment, said resolving the issue would make it easier for studios to offer marquee content in DTV format.
Nevertheless, it may be weeks or months before consumer electronics firms and Hollywood are ready to announce the standards.
Meanwhile, more work is needed to eliminate the “analog hole”-the point at which digital broadcast, cable and satellite programs become susceptible to illegal copying. This occurs when digital fare is converted to analog for display on analog TV or for recording on analog VCRs.
And the parties hold out little hope of settling on a standard to guard against illegal file sharing of movies and TV shows on the Internet.
Breaking from Mr. Chernin and Mr. Parsons, Philips Consumer Electronics CEO Larry Blanford said the negotiations are stalled. “The process we are now using to pick a technical solution is flawed, and we need your help to fix it,” he told lawmakers.
Meanwhile, House lawmakers are rejecting-for now-legislation offered by Senate Commerce Chairman Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., that gives the TV, movie, consumer electronics and computer industries one year to set copyright protection standards or have the government do it for them.
“I clearly believe that the best solution is a private-sector solution,” Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., said during the hearing before his telecommunications and Internet subcommittee. House Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin, R-La., echoed the view but said legislation is a last resort.
These and other lawmakers warned that the Hollings approach could do more harm than good.
Mr. Parsons and Mr. Chernin said lawmakers should pass only targeted legislation that codifies what the industry negotiators agree on so the standards are uniform and followed nationwide.