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CPTWG 84

I attended the 84th meeting of the Copy Protection Technology Working Group at the Renaissance Hotel at LAX on October 13.

In the beginning, the Technology Working Group was formed by CE and Computer companies to develop blocking and layout conventions for the new DVD format. That work was successful. The studios then became involved, saying that they would reject DVD if it did not have a copy protection scheme. This lead to forming TWG into CPTWG. The activity around DVD continues with the DVD Copy Control Association (which still holds private meetings after the regular CPTWG meeting). CPTWG has expanded its charter into all digital distribution technologies.

Reports

The most interesting feature of the meeting is always the Legislative and Regulatory Update. This is a summary of MPAA's activities in attempting to influence the Congress and the Courts. Congress is currently in recess because the members are home, trying to get reelected. It does not appear that any of the copyright-related bills will pass this session.

However, there will be a Lame Duck Session in December. The Congress meets again, including the members who lost their seats in the November election. Lame Duck Sessions are usually not productive, but anything can happen.

The INDUCE Bill has been heavily criticized. Senator Hatch called for a meeting of All-Stars, representing the Studios and the Public, to attempt to produce a compromise. This group failed to make an agreeable compromise. This could be the end of the INDUCE Act, except that Hollywood is pushing very hard for it and will not let it die.

MPAA was very unhappy with the FCC for approving TiVoGuard and Philip's SmartRight as part of Table A. It is putting pressure on the FCC to revoke its approval of these systems. I think this is a risky move for MPAA. It may result in a review of the Broadcast Flag Rule itself. MPAA is also attempting to reverse the Grokster decision in the Supreme Court.

The FCC has set up a Digital Television website to help explain DTV to consumers. It contains some good information. For example,

Make sure you have all the DTV equipment you need. DTV equipment can be purchased as an integrated set or as separate components. “Integrated” digital televisions have built-in tuners and a monitor to display the programming. If you buy a DTV monitor (without an integrated tuner), you will need a stand-alone tuner, cable set-top box, or satellite set-top box to watch DTV.

WG9 of the DVD Forum looked at the specification of a VHS recording blocking scheme from Dwight Cavandish Systems and rejected it. They felt it would work as well as Macrovision's system, but had little value.

Silicon Image made a presentation about the PanelLink Cinema Partners Program. It is a logo certification program for HDCP/HDMI System Interoperability testing. The service will be based on a specification that will be published later this year.

There was a presentation from the Digital Media Project and a call for proposals on Portable AV Devices. MPAA does not like DMP. The technical guys at CPTWG also do not like them and were very critical of them. In general, CPTWG does not like outsiders. It is a very closed group.