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FCC working to resolve digital TV labeling, copyright disputes

Thu, 09/14/2000 - 8:00pm
Karen Kessler

In a statement by Commissioner Susan Ness, the FCC will be working to resolve the controversy over labeling digital TVs and their capabilities in receiving digital signals.

The FCC will work over the next few weeks to facilitate agreement between digital TV set manufacturers and programmers on labeling language that is designed to protect the American consumer.

The commissioner's concern is that some TV sets that are labeled digital-ready cannot receive the digital signal. Therefore, the commissioner stated, TVs should be labeled alerting the buyer to this inconsistency.

On the issue of copy protection, the FCC concluded that some degree of protection against unbridled at-home copying is necessary in 'consumer host devices,' (also known as set-top boxes).

With this controversy resolved, the Commission has asked industry participants to submit a report and agreement on the DFAST (Dynamic Feedback Arrangement Scrambling Technique) license within 30 days.

The copy protection issue is critical for the movie industry, which fears new digital technology will let pirates make hundreds of perfect copies of their products.

The industry wants makers of set-top boxes that receive video signals to include security features limiting the number of times movies and other programs can be copied. For example, the signal for a TV situation comedy could contain a code that allows a single copy to be made, while a pay-per-view movie would have a code preventing any duplication.

Manufacturers of recording devices and retailers that sell the set-top boxes oppose strict copying limits, fearing such limits may impede growth of their industries.

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