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Studios Using Digital Armor to Fight Piracy

The New York Times, January 5, 2003

Studios Using Digital Armor to Fight Piracy


Lying dormant in virtually every digital cable box in America is technology that can prevent viewers from recording certain programs to watch them later. Soon, several Hollywood studios are planning to tell cable operators to flip the switch.

People who have become accustomed to recording pay-per-view and video- on-demand shows will probably still be able to, the studios say so long as they pay an extra fee.

The move is one of a range of new restrictions Hollywood is beginning to impose on digital movies, music and television. After years of battling online piracy in court, media executives are fighting technology with technology, locking up their products with the same types of digital tools that millions of people have used to get the products free over the Internet.

"We need to put in speed bumps to keep people honest," said Jack Valenti, the president of the Motion Picture Association of America, which is lobbying federal regulators to require many devices to incorporate technology that prevents consumers from sending digital media files over the Internet. "If we don't, our future is bleak."