November 29, 2020

Give Us Analog. No Wait, We Meant Digital.

Remember when Hollywood wanted to ban digital outputs on media devices? The rationale was that digital outputs were uniquely copyable. Here’s Jack Valenti addressing a congressional hearing back in April:

But it is digital piracy that gives movie producers multiple Maalox moments. It is digital thievery, which can disfigure and shred the future of American films. What we must understand is that digital is to analog as lightning is to the lightning bug. In analog, the pirate must be provisioned with equipment, dozens, even hundreds of slave-video recorders, because after repeated copying in analog on one machine, the finished product becomes increasingly un-watchable. Not so in digital format.

Well, now Hollywood is saying they want to ban analog outputs. For example, John Patrick reports a panel of movie industry executives saying:

The hole in the protection scheme is that most of the content is still analog. A DVD starts out as digital but the output of a DVD player is analog and therefore can be easily copied.

Others report privately that they are hearing the same thing, that Hollywood now thinks that analog outputs should be stamped out.

Hmm. Digital is too dangerous to allow. Analog is too dangerous to allow. That puts us in a bit of a tough spot.