The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved the use of Video Content Protection System (VCPS), the DVD+RW Alliance's preferred copy-protection system.
VCPS essentially governs the recording of digital TV shows onto DVD+RW media. The FCC has defined what it calls the 'Broadcast Flag', a code that can be transmitted with digital broadcasts that indicates the broadcaster's willingness to allow consumers who've recorded a programme to make further copies of it.
The idea is that pirates will not be able to use digital broadcasts as a source of material for illicit DVDs, but quite clearly it has the potential to stop fans recording and archiving their favourite shows.
VCPS detects the Broadcast Flag and applies it to the recorded content on DVD+R and DVD+RW, single- and dual-layer media. The FCC's Broadcast Flag rule comes into force on 1 July 2005, and all digital TV receivers must be capable of supporting the DRM technology from that date onwards. The technology is not mandatory for recorders, but equipment and discs without VCPS capability will be unable to record or play TV broadcast in the US that is protected with the Broadcast Flag.
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News source: The Register