The long delayed requirement to allow consumers to purchase cable boxes will soon be upon us. Mark Fleichman has a useful posting on DigitalTrends.com regarding the July1 CableCARD requirements that also addresses DRM issues.
Foes of digital rights management should note that there’s a DRM angle here, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation explains in its TiVo-to-Go postmortem. The original CableCARD agreement—between major cable operators and TV makers, as brokered by the FCC—allowed DRM but limited its potential abuses. In the latter category were some especially ugly things, like “selectable output control” and the “down-res” of HDTV.Selectable output control would have enabled the cable industry to simply shut down, say, the analog (but high-def-capable) component video output on the box. Kiss your first- or second-generation HDTV goodbye! Even more offensive was the possibility of high-def signals suffering down-res to standard-def, truly a mockery of the HDTV revolution. The integration ban will bolster these restrictions on DRM and potentially boost innovation in future devices using a single, government-standardized DRM scheme—proving that there are times when government intervention is good for you.