Broadcast Flag Mandate

Digital Spy reports that the FCC will require the broadcast flag to be included in all digital television sets manufacturered after July 2005. See the FCC announcement (PDF), FCC Chairman Michael Powell said in a statement Chairman Michael Powell’s public statement (PDF)that the commission’s decision “strikes a careful balance between content protection and technology innovation in order to promote consumer interests,” and accompanying press release the accompanying press release (PDF). Notably, the rule does not bar broadcasters from marking news and public affairs shows with the flag, considered by many to be an important “fair use” exemption. I’ve always felt that we shouldn’t allow the idea of fair use commentary on issues of public importance to be limited to news shows alone, but under this system you may be technologically barred from redistributing excerpts of bona fide news programming for commentary purposes.

At EPIC, I drafted comments to the FCC on the privacy invasive implications of the broadcast flag. See also the excellent Broadcast Flag Blog maintained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Sadly, I don’t think the FCC seriously considered any public policy issues other than that of propping up the market for digital content.

See also Commissioner Copps’ partial dissent (PDF), which does mention privacy implications, and Commissioner Adelstein’s partial dissent (PDF).

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about all of these weak digital rights management schemes is that they’re unlikely to prevent any “piracy” at all, yet will inconvenience millions of consumers and limit free speech/fair use rights.

1 comment

  1. Anonymous Jan 28

    The broadcast flag

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