March 2, 2006 12:14 PM PST

Congress raises broadcast flag for audio

Digital radio receivers without government-approved copy-prevention technology likely would become illegal to sell in the future, according to new federal legislation announced Thursday.

Rep. Mike Ferguson, a New Jersey Republican, said his bill--which would enforce a so-called "broadcast flag" for digital and satellite audio receivers--was necessary to protect the music industry from the threat of piracy.

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Satellite radio was last year's big thing. With a monthly subscription from either XM Radio or Sirius, you can get hundreds of uncensored channels. And yes, one of those is Howard Stern.

Consumer electronics makers are hoping 2006 will be the year of HD Radio. Like satellite radio, HD Radio requires a special receiver. Unlike satellite radio, though, it picks up digital signals transmitted over the same frequencies that FM radio uses. Many are commercial-free.

CNET has reviewed the Boston Acoustics Recepter Radio HD and the Yamaha RX-V4600.

Ferguson's proposal would grant the Federal Communications Commission the power to enforce "prohibitions against unauthorized copying and redistribution" for both digital over-the-air radio and digital satellite receivers.

"With exciting new digital audio devices on the market today and more on the horizon, Congress needs to streamline the deployment of digital services and protect the intellectual property rights of creators," said Ferguson, who is a member of the House of Representatives' Internet subcommittee. Rep. Mary Bono, a California Republican, is one of the four other co-sponsors.

Without explicit authorization from Congress, the FCC can't get away with mandating an audio broadcast flag on its own. That's because a federal appeals court last year unceremoniously rejected a similar set of regulations from the FCC, saying the agency did not have authority to mandate a broadcast flag for digital video.

At a breakfast roundtable with reporters on Thursday, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) said some sort of legislation is necessary to prevent Americans from saving high-quality music from digital broadcasts, assembling a "personal music library" of their own, and redistributing "recorded songs over the Internet or on removable media."

Devices like the Sirius S50, the RIAA worries, can record satellite radio broadcasts but aren't required to include digital rights management limitations.

But the RIAA and Ferguson may face an uphill battle in Congress. At a hearing in January, some senators expressed concern that an audio flag would infringe on traditional notions of fair use rights, and the politically powerful National Association of Broadcasters also urged caution on the audio flag.

The recording industry is worried about a new generation of digital radio and satellite services that send high-quality digital signals along with the associated metadata--song title and artist, for example. Some of the new devices include hard drives that allow these songs to be archived and played back later, and some, such as the popular Sirus S50, can also be connected to a computer.

The satellite radio companies have grappled with the issue of unauthorized copying in the past, although there is little or no evidence showing that their networks have helped seed file-swapping networks or other piracy hubs. XM Satellite Radio pulled a PC version of its receiver off the market in 2004, when an independent company created a tool that let songs be archived on the computer's hard drive.

CNET News.com's John Borland contributed to this report.

See more CNET content tagged:
satellite radio, digital radio, RIAA, satellite, HD radio

25 comments

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What a crock of Washington crap....
... control the transmitters and leave the receivers alone. How much
brain power does it take to figure that option out? More,
apparently, than the Washington 'experts' can come up with
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Here's the Kicker!
Did everyone catch that this is designed people from "assembling a "personal music library" of their own. Call my silly, but I don't know of any other kind...

Hot dang. How dare people try to have a personal music library so they can listen to music they paid to listen to. If you follow other news in this area the RIAA is also stating in court that if you buy a CD, it is illegal for you to make a copy of it...

Stand by. They are working towards a point that the local radio station has to pay a royalty to play the music and you will have to pay a royalty to then listen to it.
Posted by Inspector Gadget (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Pay to Play
Of course you realize all radio stations pay a royalty. In most cases, the advertiser pays the station so you can listen. In subscription based satellite services, the listener pays the station.

Assembling a personal library has been an acceptable practice for many years. It's the distribution part that is cause for concern--to the RIAA. It's all about the corporations, not the musicians.

All this argument already took place when reel to reel tape recorders became available, and then again when cassette recorders became available. The music industry feared they would lose revenue due to copying. It turned out to be exactly the opposite. Both recording technologies had the effect of increasing sales. The narrow minded RIAA execs fail to recognize this.

BTW, all my own released recordings are available at archive.org for free. Musicians unite against the machine!
Posted by Pete Bardo (687 comments )
Link Flag
Luddites!
Possible solution, just outlaw all audio/visual receiving devices(never mind the negative effect it has on both the RIAA/MPAA) ,photocopying and cars(because they are a major cause of air pollution), then for a good measure, become a luddite!

Man what are those guys on capitol hill smoking & drinking or are they just using plain angel dust, to create these stupid lame duck luddite laws!

Sheez, talk about brain dead zombies walking amongst the living, just become a congressperson or senator, thereafter leave your brain at home and whip out the feeding and leeching hand to milk the broker groups for every cent you can muster!
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
Reply Link Flag
PS
PS I forgot to add a quote "The United States has got some of the dumbest people in the world. I want you to knowthat we know that. Ted Turner"
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
Link Flag
We need to throw these bums out
I find it interesting that a congressman from New Jersey is representing the RIAA, who are a collection of large corporations. I think we should vote out ANY representative who is not representing us!
Posted by R. U. Sirius (745 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's more about 'assembling a personal music library' than piracy
What's wrong with assembling a 'personal media library' as long as I've obtained it legally and have no intention of distributing it? Consumers have been doing this ever since the advent of recordable media (of any type).

The RIAA uses the P-word to garner attention and garner political sympathy, but their real agenda is turning the consumer into an endless revenue stream.
Posted by zizzybaloobah (218 comments )
Reply Link Flag
USA for sale on ebay
Well it might as well be.

Once again Congress has proved it's for sale to the highest bidder.

As the voting public seems to stupid to vote out just about everyone currently holding public office, the only way to combat this is to have more money than the corporations that want these sorts of laws in place.

You wait until the next election - this fall I believe - and watch all the lies about reform and honesty, the crap about liberals and conservatives, all the same rhetoric from all the same people, and for some reason we fall for it every time and vote these thieves back into office.

Basically it doesn't matter who you replace them with, it's got to be better than what we have now. I don't care if you vote liberal, conservative or independant, just as long as it's not the incumbent congressasshole.

It won't happen though, people here are thick witted enough to believe anything they're told on TV, despite the fact that not one politician has ever fulfilled anything of substance.

All they care about is money, and who's getting it. They'll exploit any disaster or atrocity to inrich their chosen corporate sponsors, and they're all guilty of doing it.

6 months gone, billions of dollars spent, and people are still living in tents in New Orleans. It would be one thing if we had refused to help, but that's not what happened. They were promised aid, the money was taken from the tax payers and given to people that had no intention of using it for the purpose it was intended for.

It the same thing with Iraq. 3 years later, 200 billion spent, nothing tangible has happened.
Posted by ajbright (447 comments )
Reply Link Flag
you do realize
that it wouldn't matter who you replaced the current congressman with? The next would have the same deals with his corporate sponsors to honor.

Face it, the days of true representation are gone. We, the people have a small say, and only then by shouting loud enough for Spain and Portugal to wince from the sound.

As far as the New Orleans help goes, to me its because everyone in the high ups and the media keep trying to point fingers at who is to blame.

Stop blaming people and just go ahead and help already!
Posted by techguy83 (295 comments )
Link Flag
Right is right
You are correct, correct, and correct. You said what I have been saying for the last 30 years, the government is guilty of not only money hoarding but it seems we want to suppart them. That's is what makes me sick the TV sets the agenda and we go for it. It isn't the President who's in office at the time its the government, the senators and the congressmen/women who don't do what we want. But the TV reigns as the truth and it is the biggest lier there is. Not even the weather is correct. ha ha ha I laugh because I know there is nothing to be done about it. Except a revolution of course and new laws.
Posted by Richie (21 comments )
Link Flag
Who...
...has the time to sit and amass a personal music library from
digital radio? If someone is seriously doing this, let them have it.
Because its apparent they haven't much in the way of a life outside
of their little hobby.

This is reaching such a level of idiocy, you can sense the whole
game about to implode from within, any second now.
Posted by Michael Bird (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sat Radio - High Qaulity?
It makes me laugh whenever someone says people record High Quality audio from Sat Radio...
How can an audio stream encoded at such a low bitrate be considered high quality, have these guys even listened to sat radio?

For those who don't know Sat Radio sounds as good as free internet radio, you know the radio stations that stream 64kbs. Ya, though some stations on Sat do stream higher bitrate audio, it isn't MUCH higher.

People who record sat radio and encode that audio to mp3 degrade the sound even further...

CNET please stop stating that sat radio is High Quality!
Posted by TheShane (55 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Quality is a red herring
Quality really doesn't matter. In the 1980s when they claimed home taping was killing the industry, each tape made sounded worse than the last. They still whined and cried whenever someone heard music without coughing up any dough. Besides, it is teen pop the labels are screaming about, not symphonies.
Posted by Uncoveror (13 comments )
Link Flag
They couldn't snag audio tapes in time
... they couldn't snag recordable CDs and DVDs in time but now the pressure is on to lock down the device rather than the media. It is an interesting way to go. But I'm surprised at the fact that it is so narrow that it only covers satellite radio.

I haven't read it but I wouldn't be surprised if attempt to extend this to nearly everything. Now the question is, who are the companies who supply the FCC qualified DRM systems?

The FCC is far too powerful for it's own purpose and giving this piece of power just ups the largess of the government bureaucracy. I've got an idea, why don't we just drop the wite and blue from the flag, paint a star yellow and call it done.
Posted by sumwatt (69 comments )
Reply Link Flag
correction
*only covers satellite and HD radio transmissions
Posted by sumwatt (69 comments )
Link Flag
Windows DRM
That's the next version of Windows to hit the shelf this year. Most new hardware for the PC already has hardware DRM built into it. It hasn't been activated yet and won't be until Windows DRM (Vista) hits the streets.

I'm sure once the RIAA has the hardware and software locked up tight they will extort an even higher price for the product. They will still make huge profits, as before DRM, but fewer will be able to afford it and use it. It's their product and that's the way the chips fall. It's time for a new "Opensource" type music organization. I'm sure we'll see it in our lifetime.
Posted by GrandpaN1947 (187 comments )
Link Flag
Text of broadcast flag bill now online
It's now up here:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://politechbot.com/docs/ferguson.audio.flag.bill.030206.pdf" target="_newWindow">http://politechbot.com/docs/ferguson.audio.flag.bill.030206.pdf</a>
Posted by declan00 (848 comments )
Reply Link Flag
FOR SALE Starting price for...
House of Representive---- $1.00
Senator------------------ $2.00

Will pass any bill to stick it to the consumer.
;)
Posted by wtortorici (102 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I will be buying less and less!
I am growing weary of all these copy controls. I say let us all put away our wallets and let the various recording industries go jump in a lake! Instead of tea, why not have CD/DVD party at Boston Harbor? The recording industry poeple are getting too paranoid and silly for their own good! If I can't use my entertainment media the way I want, then what good is it?

Larry Winward
Posted by n2ifp (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
RIAA Dream Machine
Here's a scenario thats sure to give the RIAA a wet dream: every and any device in your home that can play and record audio or video will be linked to a point of sale credit card machine! Wanna play a cd? Swipe your card! Wanna watch your favorite DVD? Swipe your card! Wanna listen to mp3's on your computer? Swipe your card!

And with a 25 or 30 percent interest rate on your card, you're guaranteed to be paying for your entertainment for the rest of your life!

America: the best democracy money can buy!
Posted by anomalator (83 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Home Recording Rights
Unless we make our elected officials know how we, the people, feel about such infringements,
they will do as Special Interests - dictate.
One of the sites that I have found that lets us express how we feel about pending legislation is the following...www.hrrc.org (Home Recording Rights Coalition) It's worth the visit...Don
Posted by don541 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How much longer?
How much longer are we gonna take this people!? The way it is going we might end up in this kind of future sooner than we'd expect it: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://tarmle.livejournal.com/80182.html" target="_newWindow">http://tarmle.livejournal.com/80182.html</a>

I say everyone stop buying copy protected CD's and DVD, DRM infected motherboards and PC's and of course Windows Vista (which is also gonna be DRM infected).

All these laws plus DRM is what leads us to the future where our culture is completely locked up by corporate industry at the expense of our freedom to enjoy our culture the way we like it, not the way they like it.

An alternatives to the malicious tools of this corporate industry are Free Software, the GNU/Linux operating system, Creative Commons music and other arts, the Free Culture that we are trying to bring back and preserve. To hell with RIAA, MPAA and the likes.. the way they are, they have no place in a digital present nor the digital future! They're just extorting both artists and people. The truth is that neither of us need them as an intermediary anymore, for long time already.

Thanks
Danijel Orsolic
www.libervis.com - free culture portal
Posted by cosmicall (27 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How much longer?
How much longer are we gonna take this people!? The way it is going we might end up in this kind of future sooner than we'd expect it: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://tarmle.livejournal.com/80182.html" target="_newWindow">http://tarmle.livejournal.com/80182.html</a>

I say everyone stop buying copy protected CD's and DVD, DRM infected motherboards and PC's and of course Windows Vista (which is also gonna be DRM infected).

All these laws plus DRM is what leads us to the future where our culture is completely locked up by corporate industry at the expense of our freedom to enjoy our culture the way we like it, not the way they like it.

An alternatives to the malicious tools of this corporate industry are Free Software, the GNU/Linux operating system, Creative Commons music and other arts, the Free Culture that we are trying to bring back and preserve. To hell with RIAA, MPAA and the likes.. the way they are, they have no place in a digital present nor the digital future! They're just extorting both artists and people. The truth is that neither of us need them as an intermediary anymore, for long time already.

Thanks
Danijel Orsolic
www.libervis.com - free culture portal
Posted by cosmicall (27 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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