FCC Approves Broadcast Flag Systems

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WASHINGTON — Separate content protection technologies from Thomson and Philips with Hewlett-Packard were among a handful approved by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) recently for use with the so-called "broadcast flag" system that restricts the redistribution of content transmitted over-the-air by digital television (DTV) stations.

The broadcast flag is a digital code that can be embedded into a digital broadcasting stream and signals DTV reception equipment to prevent indiscriminate redistribution of digital broadcast content over the Internet. Rules adopted by the Commission in 2003 require all DTV devices to incorporate FCC-approved broadcast flag technologies by July 1, 2005.

Thomson's system, which is known as the SmartRight digital content protection system, can be selected by broadcasters and content producers to "effectively prevent unauthorized, indiscriminate Internet redistribution of digital broadcast content," Thomson said.

The Philips and HP co-developed system, which is known as the Video Content Protection System (VCPS), formerly called Vidi, will allow consumers to record video from DTV broadcasts under the FCC's broadcast flag regulation. VCPS is designed to be used with DVD+R, DVD+RW and DVD+R DL optical discs.

Both systems are now eligible for licensing by manufacturers of all consumer electronics and personal computing products that receive and/or handle digital broadcast content.

The approved version of SmartRight, was developed by Thomson and members of the SmartRight Association, which included content owners.

"SmartRight creates a personal private network for each consumer's home, keeping content in the hands of law-abiding consumers and thwarting would-be pirates," said Jean-Charles Hourcade, Thomson's Technology Group senior VP. "The system is extremely flexible and easily renewable. It can someday be used by consumers to access and enjoy legally-obtained digital content received in a home network — even from their authorized devices that are half a country away."

The Philips/HP VCPS system can be placed in digital video discs and recorders to make it possible for consumers to record digital broadcasts that are protected by the broadcast flag onto a DVD+R/+RW disc, and enjoy TV programming protected by the FCC rules, the companies said.

VCPS provides a transparent solution for consumers — there is no change in how the customer records and views their favorite TV program, while automatically adhering to these regulations. VCPS is easily integrated in PCs, DVD recorders and players and in optical discs. The use of this technology does not increase the cost of the manufacturing process of DVD+R/+RW discs, Philips said.

"The technical features and license terms of the Video Content Protection System show once again that DVD+RW offers the industry lower cost and higher performance," said Frank Simonis, Philips Optical Storage global marketing manager. "At the same time, this new technology provides the content industry with the protection they need while maintaining the superior usability and convenience of the DVD+RW format."

"In developing the Video Content Protection System, we continually kept the perspective of the person sitting in their living room watching TV as a dominant part of the equation," said Vikki Pachera, HP VP of Alliances and Business Development.


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