Copy-once soon to be retired?

It seems like the days of the “copy-once” flag for digital broadcasts are counted in Japan — from “Japan may ease ‘copy once’ rule for digital TV broadcasts – report”.

The government plans to ask broadcasters and makers of home appliances to ease a copy protection rule for digital television broadcasts to allow viewers to copy recorded programs more than once, aiming to improve viewer convenience before analog terrestrial broadcasting is replaced by digital services in 2011, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported citing government sources.

Notes about this quote:

  • “[…] aiming to improve viewer convenience […]”: finally — people have been complaining about the broadcast flag since it was introduced in April 2004.
  • “[…] before analog terrestrial broadcasting is replaced by digital services in 2011 […]”: indeed, that’s the problem: DTV doesn’t sell as expected (guess why?) and even the NHK people know that 2011 is an unrealistic date for switching to digital.
  • “[…] citing government sources […]”: it’s maybe necessary to point out that this is not an entirely unexpected move by the Japanese government. Back in December 2005 for instance, the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA) issued a report in which it suggested to rethink the whole copy-once system, something the broadcasters didn’t like. About two months ago, the Keidanren seemed to be on JEITA’s side about the copy-once issue, and announced it would start a committee investigating copy-once relaxation methods, while suggesting “[i]t may influence government discussions on the issue.” So probably, that’s what we see happening here — to be honest, sooner than I expected.

Another quote from the article:

According to government and industry sources, the recording limit will likely be lifted in stages, starting with news, educational and similar programs for which copies could be of great use. An entire removal of the copy limit could take time because of the need to win approval from copyright holders and actors in the programs, for example.

Let’s see…

Update: I forgot to say that this is maybe one of the first instances of the Japanese tech industry publicly opposing the content industry’s demands. Possibly the start of a trend, but it remains to be seen if the same thing will happen in e.g. the mobile phone sector, where there is less choice (between DRM laden or not) and where devices have a shorter product life (basically requiring people to purchase new phones every two to three years whether they want it or not).

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  1. […] There’s quite a bit going on in the Japanese TV broadcasting landscape lately — I already covered the (still ongoing) push for less a less restrictive broadcast flag, but there is more: according to the Daily Yomiuri, “[t]he Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry is considering introducing a system to facilitate the online distribution of previously aired television programs by simplifying copyright license procedures.” The idea is to “establish a new system requiring people to register themselves for copyrights and allow distributors to carry out the online distribution of past programming without having to obtain permission from those who do not register.” Sounds like a good idea and an improvement over the current situation, where permission from all parties involved is required in order to make a program available on the net — an unnecessarily strict rule that prevents any broadcasted content from being featured online legally, as it’s usually impossible to contact everybody involved. […]

    » chosaq » A dangerous deal: compulsory registration for broadcasts + longer protection on September 4th, 2006 at 18:57