With all the fuss over pirated music and movies that has been going on over the past few months and the ongoing attempts (and often successes) of the RIAA and MPAA to ram mini-DMCA expansions through various state legislators the news about a decision by the FCC to require FireWire ports on all cable boxes as of April 1st of this year is enough to make you shake your head in wonderment. This is particularly amusing when you consider the FCC recently ordered that electronic devices capable of recording digital content in the future must recognize a broadcast flag to prevent illict sharing of digital content over the Internet. Then they turn around and mandate the inclusion of a port on your cable box that would make ripping HDTV streams to your PC childs play.
As of April 1st, cable companies are required to provide a Firewire-enabled cable box to anyone that asks, as per an FCC interpretation of Section 304 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. What this means to you is that easy ripping and recording of HDTV streams is just a phone call to your cable company away—at least those streams that are unencrypted (broadcast stations are required to remain unencrypted, and while most premium channels are open now, too, they likely won’t be for long). Not only can you record shows and watch them on your computer, but the Firewire port allows you to stream video back to your TV, making the cable box, if nothing else, an extremely easy way to get a high-quality signal back into your existing A/V setup.
There’s already a how-to guide available at MacOSXHints with info on how to take advantage of this opportunity which could probably be easily adapted to any OS.
Found over at Gizmodo.