firewire on set top boxes- legal requirement? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 30 Old 11-09-2007, 02:09 PM - Thread Starter
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To start off, I have no technical experience with 1394. I'm just a curious consumer...

Someone told me there is actually a legal requirement by the FCC that says content providers must provide firewire on all set top boxes if the consumer demands it. Is this really a law? I know my cable box has a firewire port but I've heard satelite companies refuse to comply. If this is true, how do they get away with it when the FCC as so much muscle behind it?
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post #2 of 30 Old 11-09-2007, 07:42 PM
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I recall hearing that some time in the past.

However, I think the FCC is nothing more than a front for manufacturers and with the DRM correct HDMI, I would expect IEEE, even if mandated, to not be enforced.
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post #3 of 30 Old 11-22-2007, 11:48 PM
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The legal requirement for 1394 applies to the cable card standard.

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post #4 of 30 Old 11-30-2007, 08:10 AM
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From what little information i have gathered on this over the past few months i have come up with this.

The FCC had mandated this, but it was struck down by the court of appeals. It was stated that the FCC has no authority to regulate actual settop devices. I think this is accurate, since i am holding a new settop box that does not have a firewire port on it.

This also carries over to the broadcast flag being used by some broadcasters to prevent output via the 1394 port. Although from what i understand, the only manufacturer to implement the Broadcast Flag is Motorola.
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post #5 of 30 Old 11-30-2007, 11:18 AM
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Althought I am dead set against the FCC having the authority for BF, it seems that someone should have some kind of authority to maintain some kind of standards regarding video equipment which was, in the past, only OTA and hence FCC regulated.

For instance, suppose all the manufacturers were to quit supplying composite video outputs. All the old TV's with obsolete analog tuners would really be in a bind. Actually, it might be a good business plan to sell more TV's.

NOTE: I'm biased. It is hard to imagine that earlier D-VHS which, still, are capable of recording HDTV are basically shut out of the loop already. Ironically, when you read white papers on ATSC, compatibility w/D-VHS was mentioned every other page. You might say that D-VHS was part of their "template" during that time.)
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post #6 of 30 Old 11-30-2007, 01:06 PM
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I completely agree. I work for a cable company and trying to sort through all of that was a real trial in my patience. There really should be some standards body regulating what HAS to be on the boxes and their functional requirements. As far as i can tell, technically a company could sell a box that couldn't output video at all as far as being legally acceptable.
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post #7 of 30 Old 12-05-2007, 04:01 PM
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I just contacted my local cable company (Comcast in Northern Va). They told me that firewire has been disabled on my SA 8300HD. I didn't push the issue, but i knew there was an FCC mandate on this. As for the appeal; is there anything online about it? I'd like to know if its worth fighting w/ Comcast about this.
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post #8 of 30 Old 12-06-2007, 10:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toadtaste View Post

From what little information i have gathered on this over the past few months i have come up with this.

The FCC had mandated this, but it was struck down by the court of appeals. It was stated that the FCC has no authority to regulate actual settop devices. I think this is accurate, since i am holding a new settop box that does not have a firewire port on it.

This also carries over to the broadcast flag being used by some broadcasters to prevent output via the 1394 port. Although from what i understand, the only manufacturer to implement the Broadcast Flag is Motorola.

Do you have a link to that appeals court case?

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post #9 of 30 Old 12-06-2007, 10:35 PM
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i think this may be the repeal:

news.com/Court-yanks-down-FCCs-broadcast-flag/2100-1030_3-5697719.html

it appears that the courts declared the FCC has no authority over STB manufacturers on this issue.
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post #10 of 30 Old 12-08-2007, 01:55 PM
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That is just the broadcast flag strike down. That does not apply to the cable card plug&play agreement. The plug & play agreement was signed among the cable industry & electronic manufactures. In no way would it be struck down since it was an industry agreement, not an implementation from the government.

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post #11 of 30 Old 12-18-2007, 11:02 AM
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Not certain this is the information that you are seeking. However the following thread has a very good discussion on the 1394 port as well as the flag.

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...CC+1394&page=5

Also there were to docs linked in that thread that were presented from the 1394ta to the FCC.

http://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/r...ent=6518332075
http://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/r...ent=6518332076

The presentation, second link, seemed to outline the requirement by MSOs.

FCC
47 C.F.R. 76.640(b)(4)(ii)

FCC regulations have required a functional 1394
interface on all new HD cable set-top boxes since
July 1, 2005 (no longer by request)

Perhaps one of our 1394ta members could chime in on this one.

As to the appeal holding the 1394 requirement back it was not clearly answered.

Thanks
Rob

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post #12 of 30 Old 12-18-2007, 01:22 PM
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interesting. This sparked my interest again and i called comcast about getting a firewire enabled box. They said i could pick it up anytime. I'm going tonight to see if it's true, and what kind of box i get. Sounds like some people are getting a non-dvr box that has the ports enabled.
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post #13 of 30 Old 12-18-2007, 07:33 PM
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When i showed up at Comcast, they lady said that none of their STB were firewire-enabled. She gave me a new one and said maybe something changed and she didn't know it. I tried it out and i'm not having any luck. The Copy Protection screen shows the firewire as "Unavailable" which i believe means the firewire is not enabled. This STB does have a newer firmware and have cable card screens. I've also been reading about the 5c encryption. is there a way to know if the stream being sent is encrypted and that's the problem?
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post #14 of 30 Old 12-19-2007, 08:21 AM
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The thread that I linked above does talk about using the diag menu/screens to view what flags are set in the stream and being seen by the STB. It specifically spoke of Comcast STBs. That would perhaps be a good place to start.

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post #15 of 30 Old 12-19-2007, 10:46 AM
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Thanks, i did continue the discussion on that thread. Thanks again for pointing that out. it's exactly what i needed!
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post #16 of 30 Old 12-19-2007, 04:51 PM
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Glad to be of assistance!

Would anyone from the 1394ta like to chime in on this thread? This topic, at least for me, has gotten cloudy with the information I have reviewed ove rthe last few days. Are there provisions for consumers that the FCC have placed against STB makers for 1394?

I understand that there is also an industry agreement that might impact the use of 1394 ports in consumer STBs.

Thanks
Rob

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post #17 of 30 Old 01-03-2008, 10:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warnockm View Post

i think this may be the repeal:

news.com/Court-yanks-down-FCCs-broadcast-flag/2100-1030_3-5697719.html

it appears that the courts declared the FCC has no authority over STB manufacturers on this issue.

"The FCC has no authority to regulate consumer electronic devices that can be used for receipt of wire or radio communication when those devices are not engaged in the process of radio or wire transmission."

The FCC can't require a Broadcast flag, but stations can still implement it. The FCC can also not regulate the receiving device either(ie STB).

So the firewire port does not have to be activated, and furthermore, a broadcaster can implement the broadcast flag on their signals. From what i understand, only the Motorola STBs currently recognize the Broadcast flag, and they have no plans to remove that support.
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post #18 of 30 Old 01-03-2008, 01:23 PM
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Pale, that was a great post a few back.

I think this is true: any RF I/O on a device is definitely regulated by the FCC since this is a radio frequency transmitter/receiver.

I know the IEEE-1394 MPEG2-TS is all over the HDTV documents/standards produced by the FCC - in fact, they specifically identify D-VHS as the means to copy HDTV.

I would think that the Composite Video may also be FCC territory because this is a demodulated radio frequency transmission. Maybe HTSC. But someone must regulate the use and specification of the composite video signal and connection.

Someone must also regulate and prohibit a cable company (monopoly) from replacing all standard connections from their STB with proprietary ones which require special televisions and special disc/tape video recorders.

Of course, DRM has produced federal law specifying what kind of AGC must be used in VCR design so that all VHS copy guard systems remain intact. BETA was given a 1000 unit/year exemption from this since they never had crappy VHS AGC.

I believe there are political forces afoot to get rid of IEEE-1394 and D-VHS since this combination handily records HDTV. Ironically, the FCC required that the HDTV standard to provide the ability to record.
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post #19 of 30 Old 01-03-2008, 03:02 PM
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that article has a link to the actual Court of Appeals judgment. IANAL but it appears to me they judged that a device receiving a broadcast transmission can not be regulated. Ironically this also said that the FCC can't force the use of 5C encryption on IEEE 1394. The FCC was working with the MPAA to force Cable Companies to implement 5c encryption on all settop boxes.

http://pacer.cadc.uscourts.gov/docs/...5/04-1037b.pdf

I think there really does need to be a standards organization that regulates what ports need to be available and activated, but it appears to me the FCC isn't that organization.
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post #20 of 30 Old 01-03-2008, 04:42 PM
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FCC jurisdiction over BF and an I/O port is completely different.

First, BF, would be a mandate regarding the content of the signal which would have been a completely new jurisdiction.

Note, that the structure of the signal regarding frequency/amplitude/modulation algorithm is traditional FCC jurisdiction.

Further, any device that receives or transmits a radio frequency is regulated by the FCC. In particular for emissions, especially if a receiver. That way, bogus receivers will not interfere with other radio communications. So that includes HDTV broadcast and reception.

I guess a good question would be: who came up with the standard for composite Video, component video, IEEE-1394 MPEG2 TS, IEEE-1394 DV, HDMI x.x, DVI, S-video, and VGA. I tend to believe that you cannot fool around with those standards. If you would make one of those proprietary for your own business model, you would be breaking some regulatory law in my book. It may be that each of those has their own industry committee like modem standards.

So who would be the standards gate keep on consumer electronics? I guess that would be the FTC which got involved with bogus amplifier power specifications. Of course, consider the history of that. For years companies lied about amplifier output. Then, eventually, the FTC got involved. Considering the chaos right now with HDTV, this dwarfs the previous situation. It may be that the FTC eventually comes down on these clowns with an Iron Fist! Yeah Baby! (Austin Powers)

Maybe the FTC is the potential advocate for IEEE-1394 MPEG2-TS? (Also, a technical question: Which TS is the format for transmitting OTA HDTV, does it have any relationship to the HDMI formats? For one, an OTA receiver/tuner would have a HDMI output indicating the encryption - but is there really a conversion? What format of signal do you get when you decrypt a HDMI transwmission of an OTA TS source?)

[I love HDTV hoopla. You have to have an electrical engineering degree to understand it. I would LMAO if The Public simply shows no real interest in it including HD DVD formats.]
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post #21 of 30 Old 01-04-2008, 05:05 AM
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Interesting reading but I am confused. I have been using firewire and D-VHS since early 2000 and hope to continue to use it. Currently, I have a Comcast Motorolla DCT-6412III box with active and properly working IEEE1394 and I continue to record D-VHS tapes using it. I also have a Samsung SIR-T165 for OTA and last year retired a 169time modified DirecTV receiver since DirecTV uses primarily MPEG-4 now.

Does this litigation and pending changes mean things are going to change for me?

Chris
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post #22 of 30 Old 01-04-2008, 06:43 AM
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You only have a possibility of being affected if any of the broadcasters in your area choose to implement the Broadcast flag. Motorola boxes will encrypt the output on those channels then.

These are rulings from a few years ago, so if it hasn't been acted on yet, i would hope it is going to remain the same for the foreseeable future.
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post #23 of 30 Old 01-04-2008, 07:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Gerhard View Post

Interesting reading but I am confused. I have been using firewire and D-VHS since early 2000 and hope to continue to use it. Currently, I have a Comcast Motorolla DCT-6412III box with active and properly working IEEE1394 and I continue to record D-VHS tapes using it. I also have a Samsung SIR-T165 for OTA and last year retired a 169time modified DirecTV receiver since DirecTV uses primarily MPEG-4 now.

Does this litigation and pending changes mean things are going to change for me?

Chris

There is that potential. Which is one of the reason the discussion on the Firewire/IEEE-1394 ports being enabled. If the ports are not enabled, which many people have identified being the case, your DVHS will be impacted.

The discussion among this thread is if the FCC has been successful in requiring MSOs to provide a working and enabled Firewire/IEEE-1394 port for consumers on STBs, thus protecting your ability to use DVHS. The broadcast flag is a separate issue, but it can be easily linked to the discussion of Firewire/IEEE-1394 as it would effect the ability to use any Firewire/IEEE-1394 ports on STBs.

So the question is sstill out there for someone from the 1394TA to respond to, does the FCC have the ability or has it required MSOs to provide working Firewire/IEEE-1394 ports on its STBs?

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post #24 of 30 Old 01-04-2008, 07:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6volt View Post

FCC jurisdiction over BF and an I/O port is completely different.

First, BF, would be a mandate regarding the content of the signal which would have been a completely new jurisdiction.

Note, that the structure of the signal regarding frequency/amplitude/modulation algorithm is traditional FCC jurisdiction.

Further, any device that receives or transmits a radio frequency is regulated by the FCC. In particular for emissions, especially if a receiver. That way, bogus receivers will not interfere with other radio communications. So that includes HDTV broadcast and reception.

I guess a good question would be: who came up with the standard for composite Video, component video, IEEE-1394 MPEG2 TS, IEEE-1394 DV, HDMI x.x, DVI, S-video, and VGA. I tend to believe that you cannot fool around with those standards. If you would make one of those proprietary for your own business model, you would be breaking some regulatory law in my book. It may be that each of those has their own industry committee like modem standards.

So who would be the standards gate keep on consumer electronics? I guess that would be the FTC which got involved with bogus amplifier power specifications. Of course, consider the history of that. For years companies lied about amplifier output. Then, eventually, the FTC got involved. Considering the chaos right now with HDTV, this dwarfs the previous situation. It may be that the FTC eventually comes down on these clowns with an Iron Fist! Yeah Baby! (Austin Powers)

Maybe the FTC is the potential advocate for IEEE-1394 MPEG2-TS? (Also, a technical question: Which TS is the format for transmitting OTA HDTV, does it have any relationship to the HDMI formats? For one, an OTA receiver/tuner would have a HDMI output indicating the encryption - but is there really a conversion? What format of signal do you get when you decrypt a HDMI transmission of an OTA TS source?)

[I love HDTV hoopla. You have to have an electrical engineering degree to understand it. I would LMAO if The Public simply shows no real interest in it including HD DVD formats.]


Today most OTA sources I have seen in my area are MPEG2-TS. As for the decryption it is my understanding that some people, not necessarily in my area, have seen network stations enable the Broadcast Flag over OTA. Also OTA should not be encrypted.

As for the HDMI I am not certain and we might want to ask in the HDMI forum section. It seems to have very active HDMI member support.

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post #25 of 30 Old 01-04-2008, 10:53 AM
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Thanks guys, I continue to use D-VHS a lot, far more than both Blu-ray and HD DVD combined since I can't record anything to either of the next generation formats and it is unclear when I will be able to.

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post #26 of 30 Old 01-04-2008, 02:02 PM
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Chris,

I too have D-VHS and Comcast STB.

What concerns me is that few current model HDTV's and A/V Receivers have IEEE-1394 MPEG2-TS capability.

Further, it appears that the latest D-VHS do NOT have HDMI inputs.

Since JVC still sells D-VHS, I sent them a terse email asking which HDTV's of theirs had IEEE-1394 inputs and they actually make one model line that does. (I should have asked them about A/V Receivers too)

The way I see it, road blocks are being set up to HD recording.
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post #27 of 30 Old 03-29-2008, 06:36 PM
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This reply may be a little late but yes it is required for ALL HDTV CATV set top boxes to have 1394. Satellite is exempted for whatever reason I do not know. Standard def boxes for CATV are exempted as well. Ethernet was not approved at the time of the FCC ruling for DRM and is only approved now if it supports DTCP-IP with a 7ms roundtrip time (Not currently achievable). 1394 has been approved for DRM for years. The idea was HDMI for local point-to-point connectivity and 1394 to add network connectivity.
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This reply may be a little late but yes it is required for ALL HDTV CATV set top boxes to have 1394. Satellite is exempted for whatever reason I do not know. Standard def boxes for CATV are exempted as well. Ethernet was not approved at the time of the FCC ruling for DRM and is only approved now if it supports DTCP-IP with a 7ms roundtrip time (Not currently achievable). 1394 has been approved for DRM for years. The idea was HDMI for local point-to-point connectivity and 1394 to add network connectivity.
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post #29 of 30 Old 07-04-2012, 07:55 PM
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I own a JVC D-VHS player made circa 2004. It utilizes a Firewire input which is fed from my Comcast Xfinity Cisco RNG200N cable box. I sense that Comcast can and will drop support for the firewire feature at any time. Even if they don't physically remove it, they can always logically disable it. (As an aside, Comcast disabled picture in picture in the last year even though the cable boxes have two tuners and the remote controls have the PIP buttons. PIP worked last year. When I called Comcast they said they were just sort of not supporting it any more.) So, I relish my HDTV recorder while it works. When the cable company cuts it off, I'll (sadly, because I really like D-VHS) have to make other arrangements. (From what I've heard, DHCP, the encryption system used in HDMI, has been cracked. So maybe we'll see some alternative devices in the future.) Thanks industry and FCC for being so paranoid about your precious content.
Wayne
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post #30 of 30 Old 07-29-2012, 11:03 PM
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