EFF Exposes Standards Jeopardizing Innovation and Consumer Rights

San Francisco - An international consortium of television and technology companies is devising draconian anti-consumer restrictions for the next generation of TVs in Europe and beyond, at the behest of American entertainment giants.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is the only public interest group to have gained entrance into the secretive meetings of the Digital Video Broadcasting Project (DVB), a group that creates the television and video specifications used in Europe, Australia, and much of Asia and Africa. In a report released today, EFF shows how U.S. movie and television companies have convinced DVB to create new technical specifications that would build digital rights management technologies into televisions. These specifications are likely to take away consumers' rights, which will subsequently be sold back to them piecemeal -- so entertainment fans will have to pay again and again for legitimate uses of lawfully acquired digital television content.

"DVB is abetting a massive power grab by the content industry, and many of the world's largest technology companies are simply watching," said Ren Bucholz, EFF Policy Coordinator, Americas. "This regime was concocted without input from consumer rights organizations or public interest groups, and it shows."

Despite recent record profits, American movie and television studios insist that new technologies could ruin their industry. In past battles against innovation, these same studios sued to block the sale of the VCR and the first mass-marketed digital video recorder in the U.S. Having failed in those efforts, they have now turned to creating technical standards that, when backed by law, are likely to restrict consumers' existing rights and threaten the future of technological innovation.

With DVB, the plan begun by entertainment companies in the U.S. has now gone global. EFF's report is aimed at alerting European consumer groups and consumers about the dangers posed by the proposed standards and providing informational resources for European regulators.

"DVB members' active indifference, even hostility, to user rights is shameful," said EFF Staff Technologist Seth Schoen. "When American studios ask for regulatory support for restrictions pushed through the DVB Project, public officials must stand up for consumer rights, sustain competition and innovation, and tell Hollywood to back off."

For the full report:

EFF's 2005 Submission to the U.K. Department of Media, Sports and Culture:


Ren Bucholz
Policy Coordinator, Americas
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Seth Schoen
Staff Technologist
Electronic Frontier Foundation

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