Cory Doctorow writes of a proposed bill that would regulate analog-to-digital converters:
The entertainment industry, always a bastion of media savvy, has proposed its “A-Hole” bill as a legal means of limiting the conversion of analog music and video to digital files. Under the bill, every maker of a device that can convert analog signals to digital ones (like iPods, camcorders, and PCs) would be required by law to be built with a detector for a proprietary watermarking technology called VEIL (the use of free/open source in these technologies would be outlawed to prevent the removal of VEIL detectors).
I wonder if the law would apply to digital hearing aids. Besides lowering the capabilities of hearing aids — today’s hearing aid processors are already squeezed to the last cycle in an effort to provide better audio so any additional processing to detect watermarks will come at the direct expense of reduced audio quality — such a law would also have the consequence of prohibiting the hard-of-hearing from listening to recorded music.
It’s surprising that such a bill would even be considered as it is relatively simple for anybody to build an analog-to-digital converter from components that can be found Radio Shack. Schematics can be found in most introductory electronics texts. Anybody intent on ripping audio from CDs could set themselves up with a few days of hacking.
I also wonder what effect such a law would have on the makers of anti-lock braking systems, which also use analog-to-digital converters; not to mention medical equipment, industrial controllers, and avionics.