CableLabs Defends Copy Protection


Cable Television Laboratories Inc. sent a letter to federal regulators
defending the cable industry's copy-protection license against charges by the
consumer-electronics industry that the license is hostile to consumer

Contrary to assertions by the Consumer Electronics Association, CableLabs
said the 'POD-Hot Interface License Agreement' (PHILA) does not automatically
ban time-shifting. Limitations on time-shifting, it added, would be the result
of negotiations between cable operators and content providers.

'The copyright owners will have no direct control over setting the codes that
control copying,' CableLabs president and CEO Richard R. Green said in a July 2
letter to Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell.

Green said copy protection of digital content is an important consideration
recognized by consumer-electronics manufacturers, cable operators and content
providers. The scope of that protection is not automatically determined by the
technology but by agreements worked out by distributors and content owners.

'If an operator places too many restrictions on the copying of the
programming he delivers, he will lose subscribers. It is in the operator's
interest to impose the least restrictive copying requirements consistent with
his ability to obtain programming from content providers,' Green said.

Green added that he wanted to use the letter to dispel another charge
consumer-electronics makers have made against the PHILA license. He said nothing
in the license or OpenCable specifications prohibits competitive
consumer-electronics makers from installing personal-video-recorder technology.
'No such `limitation' can be found in the PHILA,' he added.

The CEA has complained that copy-protection technology in advanced set-tops
would greatly limit home records, thus deterring consumers from buying digital
recording equipment.

Powell and other FCC leaders have said the agency has no jurisdiction over
copyright laws. Moreover, the commission has said the inclusion of some
copy-protection technology in PHILA was not inconsistent with rules designed to
open the set-top-box market to retail competition.