The Hollings Bill isn’t dead

More evidence that the Hollings Bill (CBDTPA: Consume, But Don’t Try Programming Anything) isn’t going to pass this year, if at all. As I suspected, this bill is a smokescreen for the Broadcast Protection Discussion Group in Hollywood. Check this out:

In a speech last week, [Commerce Department undersecretary for intellectual property] Rogan said that “negotiations are presently underway among hardware manufacturers and content owners to develop improved means for protecting online content,” and legislators should wait for results before voting on a proposal such as the Hollings bill.

“Before Congress rushes into the imposition of a legislative solution,” Rogan said, “I hope its members will grant more time for the free market to find its own middle ground.”

Those negotiations are the BPDG, a consipiracy of 15-some tech and entertainment companies. They’re writing a “standard” that they’ve asked Hollings to give the FCC the power to give the force of law to. It will be illegal to manufacture or distribute any device or software that can access digital broadcast TV if it doesn’t meet the “standard.”

And what will the “standard” require? Well, for starters, all tech will have to be “tamper-resistant,” which means that you won’t be able to tinker with the hardware and software you own. Open source will be illegal.

Those devices that are allowed will only be permitted to incorporate cables and media that limit copying. And new technologies will only be added to the list of permitted tech if Hollywood says so (the standard that the studios have proposed for evaluating new tech is “We’ll know it when we see it”).

Imagine it: HDTV devices and computers that interface with them will only be allowed to incorporate broken technologies that Hollywood permits. If your computer monitor doesn’t include the “approved” inputs, it will be against the law for your computer to output a digital video stream to it. The manufacturer will have two choices:

  1. Add a second input that uses a “protected” method (you’ll need two wires to connect your computer to your monitor)
  2. Take away the “unprotected” input and just use one, “protected” wire, which means that you won’t be able to buy a computer that allows you to do anything you want with the video that you make on your own

We all got upset about the Hollings Bill because it would use the force of law to control how a computer could be made. The BPDG will do exactly that — it’s not a “free market middle-ground,” it’s Hollywood’s absolute dominion over your machine.

Don’t let ’em fool you — CBDTPA is just another way of spelling BPDG, and it’s a-comin’ soon. The BPDG says it’ll have its standard finalized by May 17, and no one’s even noticing. The BPDG meetings are public (though they cost $100 to attend). There’s one coming up in LA on Monday, and wouldn’t it be sweet if a couple hundred of us showed up to tell ’em what we think? Link Discuss