The House Judiciary Committee today introduced a bill (HR 4569) to close the analog hole.
Here's what we had to say about the draft version of the bill.
The government is proposing that devices (consumer electronics, computers, software) manufactured after a certain date respond to a copy-protection signal or watermark in a digital video stream, and pass along that signal when converting the video to analog. The same goes for analog video streams, to pass on the protection to the digital video outputs.
The technology Congress is proposing (VEIL) is derived from one that originated with assorted interactive Batman toys that allowed the toys to respond to Batman television shows or videos. How cool–at least for toys.
So, essentially, the government wants your future TV, TiVo, computer, cell phone, Final Cut Pro, (input your favorite analog signal viewing / converting device here) to respond to the Bat Signal.
There are some details in the legislation that have yet to be fully understood, concerning protection of content that is supported by business models ( prerecorded media, video on demand, pay-per-view, subscription-on-demand) and “undefined” business models. And much of the process has to be approved, not by the FCC, but by the Patent and Trademark Office. Why the USPTO? Not because they're an “expert agency” like the FCC, but because the bill was introduced in the Judiciary Committee, which doesn't necessarily have jurisdiction over the FCC.
Perhaps needless to say, Public Knowledge is against government mandated DRM and other similar tech mandates.