Press Release

Public Knowledge Warns Senate of Harms From Closing Consumer Electronics Connections

June 20, 2006 ,

For immediate release
June 21, 2006

Consumers would be harmed and innovation would suffer if Congress passed legislation that closed off analog connections to digital consumer electronics devices, Public Knowledge President and Gigi B. Sohn said in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Committee held a hearing on “The Analog Hole: Can Congress Protect Copyright and Promote Innovation?” The “analog hole” is the shorthand term for connecting an analog consumer electronics device, such as a TiVo or Slingbox, to a digital device, such as a digital TV. The motion picture industry wants to ban such connections out of fear that movies will be illegally copied because the conversion from digital to analog formats strips out copy protection coding.

Sohn said, however, that closing the analog hole “would be profoundly anti-consumer and a radical change in the historic copyright balance. Closing the analog hold would immediately restrict lawful uses of technology and make millions of consumer devices obsolete.”

In her testimony, Sohn said that by closing the “analog hole,” consumers would be harmed as everyday tasks such as time-shifting, place-shifting, recording TV shows onto a computer or moving content over a home network would be prohibited. Devices purchased before the closing of the analog hole may not work with devices purchased after, Sohn added.

In addition, she told the Committee in her written statement: “The ability to transfer content that one lawfully buys from one device to another has helped to drive the huge market for content and devices. Closing the analog hole will limit this ability and with it consumers' enthusiasm for purchasing these products.”

Sohn said that the U.S. Copyright Office and the Motion Picture Association of America have advocated using analog conversion of digital material should be the only way for consumers to engage in fair use of copy-protected digital content.

Her full written statement is here.