HRRC urges FCC to protect early HDTV adopters

The Home Recording Rights Coalition (HRRC), an advocacy arm of the Consumer Electronics Association, has asked the FCC for a permanent ban on downresolution to protect owners of early generation HDTV sets.

The HRRC said the FCC's allowance of a “downres trigger” on non-broadcast programming would disenfranchise all owners of older HD receivers with analog interfaces. Such a trigger, which would automatically reduce the resolution of programming for first generation non-digital HD receivers, is being advocated by Hollywood studios as a form of copy protection to protect entertainment content from a non-secure reception.

The HRRC explained that most HD products now have secure digital interfaces, such as DVI, HDMI and IEEE1394, and that recent actions taken by the FCC—including the DTV tuner mandate and digital cable ready (DCR) provisions—ensure future products will be outfitted with digital interfaces.

“There is no rationale for downresolution springing from denial of ability to record—all ‘downres’ does is cut the bandwidth of the signal that is recorded,” the HRRC argued. “Similarly, HDTV downresolution keeps nothing from being posted on the Internet, since by cutting the signal down to one-quarter its transmitted size, ‘downres’ effectively compresses the signal for redistribution.”

The HRRC said true content protection solutions exist that have been designed through inter-industry collaboration. “This work undermines a core precept of downresolution—that there is no copy protection alternative to punishing innocent consumers for their early investment in HDTV.”

The FCC, argued the HRRC, should be mindful of the public’s trust in any consideration of the retirement or revocation of connectors, interfaces or devices, arguing that “when an interface or an enabling technology is ‘retired,’ ‘revoked,’ or turned off via ‘selectable output control,’ the covenant, which extends all the way through to the consumer, is broken. The FCC would become a party to the breaking of this trust agreement.”

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