HRRC, CableLabs scrap over standard


Two factions of the digital-television industry are fighting in public over
whether the open set-top-box standard developed by Cable Television Laboratories
Inc. violates consumers' rights to copy content.

Last week, the Home Recording Rights Coalition said that the most recent
version of the 'Point-of-Deployment Host Interface License Agreement,' known as
'PHILA,' secretly maintains 'anti-consumer constraints on any product that would
be sold in competition with those of its cable-industry owners,' said HRRC's
Michael Petricone.

'After a year of secret negotiations, all of the anti-consumer provisions
remain,' he added. 'The sorry state of the PHILA license shows that the FCC
[Federal Communications Commission] now needs to reclaim the mission Congress
gave it.'

On Monday, CableLabs president Richard Green sent a lengthy, detailed letter
to Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) calling the HRRC's
claims 'highly inflammatory and inaccurate.'

Instead, Green said, 'PHILA provides tools, not rules.'

He added that certain security provisions exist in the PHILA license that are
similar to those employed by direct-broadcast satellite.

'In order for cable customers to obtain access to the same digital content,
it is essential that cable equipment contain similar security tools. High-value
content will not be available to cable customers so long as program owners
regard cable as an insecure medium,' Green wrote.