September 30, 2005 6:05 PM PDT

Politicians want to raise broadcast flag

Twenty members of Congress are calling for the reinstatement of the "broadcast flag," a controversial form of copy prevention technology for digital TV broadcasts.

In a letter Thursday, the politicians called for rapid approval of a federal law adopting the broadcast flag, which would outlaw over-the-air digital TV receivers and computer tuner cards that don't follow strict anticopying standards.

"Program producers will naturally be reluctant to license their high value programs for digital distribution without protection from widespread acts of infringement over the Internet," said the letter, sent to Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House of Representatives panel on Internet and commerce.

No legislation has advanced in either the House or the Senate, but opponents of the broadcast flag have been warning that the proposal could be attached to spending bills. The bill funding the Federal Communications Commission through 2006, for instance, is still before a conference committee.

In a 3-0 ruling in May, a federal appeals court rejected the FCC's regulations adopting the broadcast flag. But the ruling was a limited one: the judges said that though the FCC lacked the authority to outlaw TV tuners, Congress could choose to enact a law allowing it.

Since then, the Motion Picture Association of America has been lobbying Congress to reinstate the scheme. In an essay for CNET News.com in May, MPAA head Dan Glickman wrote: "The broadcast flag does not inhibit copying, nor does it prevent redistribution of programming over a personal home network--it only restricts unauthorized redistribution of programming over the Internet and other digital networks."

Thursday's letter from Rep. Charles Pickering, R-Miss., and Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., demonstrates that the MPAA has secured broad bipartisan support. It was signed by 12 Republicans and eight Democrats.

Public Knowledge, an advocacy group that has sued to yank down the FCC's broadcast flag, said in an e-mailed response to the letter: "The broadcast flag legislation would give the Federal Communications Commission control over virtually any technology, from set-top boxes to computer software."

Other signatories to the letter: John Shimkus, R-Ill., George Radanovich, R-Calif., Mike Ferguson, R-N.J., Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., Mary Bono, R-Calif., Lee Terry, R-Neb., Ed Whitfield, R-Kt., Bobby Rush, D-N.J., Vito Fossella, R-N.Y., John Shadegg, R-Ariz., Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., Albert Wynn, D-Md., Michael Doyle, D-Penn., Charles Gonzalez, D-Tex., Charles Bass, R-N.H., John Sullivan, R-Okla., Frank Pallone, D-N.J.

30 comments

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broadcast flag: fair-use policy?
What if your favorite TV shows suddenly failed to copy on your TiVo or VCR or DVR - they will be impossible to copy, if the broadcast flag is made mandatory for manufacturers, and you buy new recording equipment that has this "feature" set.

Is it really fair to prevent viewers from copying movies and TV shows, just because they are digital in nature? Isn't that heavy-handed?

Slippery slope, here we come. Lets not allow this.
Posted by Heymull (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Exactly I want fair use
If I record a show on MY tv in MY house from a cable service that I pay for I want to be able to freely distribute in my house for my use.

But secretly I will be wanting to record Supernanny and distribute it on Bittorrent and try and make a buck through advertising it (:

Gimme a break! 99% of the people out there just want to use it fairly and maybe 1% will do that, so why should be all be punished?

Tape recorders? VCR's? no problem (all of sudden its a problem?)
Posted by mcepat (118 comments )
Link Flag
there won't be much to record
If this broadcast flag doesn't go through, guess what's going to happen to the high priced content? It'll never be distributed using HDTV, just some NTSC DTV look-alike.

Digital files, unlike VCR tapes, can be copied endlessly. I will take only one person to make the show/movie available to everyone, in perfect quality. Sorry DVD sales are too important.

I don't think this will end Tivo recording ability. These "roach motel" devices will probably retain ability to record, since you can't take the files out without DRM.
Posted by sanenazok (3449 comments )
Link Flag
No such thing as "Fair Use"
The Digital Mellenium Copyright Act has closed the fair use loophole for all digital media. While I disagree with it, that's the law.
Posted by Jim Harmon (329 comments )
Link Flag
Excellent point...
...now if the idiots in power could simply grasp it.
Posted by Scottitude (17 comments )
Link Flag
broadcast flag: fair-use policy?
What if your favorite TV shows suddenly failed to copy on your TiVo or VCR or DVR - they will be impossible to copy, if the broadcast flag is made mandatory for manufacturers, and you buy new recording equipment that has this "feature" set.

Is it really fair to prevent viewers from copying movies and TV shows, just because they are digital in nature? Isn't that heavy-handed?

Slippery slope, here we come. Lets not allow this.
Posted by Heymull (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Exactly I want fair use
If I record a show on MY tv in MY house from a cable service that I pay for I want to be able to freely distribute in my house for my use.

But secretly I will be wanting to record Supernanny and distribute it on Bittorrent and try and make a buck through advertising it (:

Gimme a break! 99% of the people out there just want to use it fairly and maybe 1% will do that, so why should be all be punished?

Tape recorders? VCR's? no problem (all of sudden its a problem?)
Posted by mcepat (118 comments )
Link Flag
there won't be much to record
If this broadcast flag doesn't go through, guess what's going to happen to the high priced content? It'll never be distributed using HDTV, just some NTSC DTV look-alike.

Digital files, unlike VCR tapes, can be copied endlessly. I will take only one person to make the show/movie available to everyone, in perfect quality. Sorry DVD sales are too important.

I don't think this will end Tivo recording ability. These "roach motel" devices will probably retain ability to record, since you can't take the files out without DRM.
Posted by sanenazok (3449 comments )
Link Flag
No such thing as "Fair Use"
The Digital Mellenium Copyright Act has closed the fair use loophole for all digital media. While I disagree with it, that's the law.
Posted by Jim Harmon (329 comments )
Link Flag
Excellent point...
...now if the idiots in power could simply grasp it.
Posted by Scottitude (17 comments )
Link Flag
What do you want for free?
TV shows are free gifts to those who watch them. Let them do what they want and shoot themselves in the foot with negative PR by rendering DVRs useless.
Posted by (34 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Free..are you kidding?
The last time I check I was paying $90/month for cable. I should be able to record a show I missed because I was at work trying to pay their bill.
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
What do you want for free?
TV shows are free gifts to those who watch them. Let them do what they want and shoot themselves in the foot with negative PR by rendering DVRs useless.
Posted by (34 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Free..are you kidding?
The last time I check I was paying $90/month for cable. I should be able to record a show I missed because I was at work trying to pay their bill.
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
Ploy to make DTV fail...
Really, the quality of the picture won't sell TV
if the content doesn't get dramatically better.
There's nothing terribly compelling about DTV
unless you're a hard-up sports nut. It just means
people need to buy a new set.

This just serves as a value-detractor for DTV:
you have to buy a new TV to, possibly, get a
somewhat crisper picture (DTV is not HDTV) that
you know will have features that promise to be
more annoying and mysterious than programming the
VCR or having a "V-chip" kick in for no apparent
reason.

Way to speed up adoption, morons!
Posted by Gleeplewinky (289 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ploy to make DTV fail...
Really, the quality of the picture won't sell TV
if the content doesn't get dramatically better.
There's nothing terribly compelling about DTV
unless you're a hard-up sports nut. It just means
people need to buy a new set.

This just serves as a value-detractor for DTV:
you have to buy a new TV to, possibly, get a
somewhat crisper picture (DTV is not HDTV) that
you know will have features that promise to be
more annoying and mysterious than programming the
VCR or having a "V-chip" kick in for no apparent
reason.

Way to speed up adoption, morons!
Posted by Gleeplewinky (289 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ah, they become victims as well
Any, regulation regarding the introduction of the no broadcast flag, will equally affect them as well. Ah such stupidity, should be awarded a lifetime service to be a congressman or senator, in a system which has been known to routinely elect dead men who died prior to the election date!
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ah, they become victims as well
Any, regulation regarding the introduction of the no broadcast flag, will equally affect them as well. Ah such stupidity, should be awarded a lifetime service to be a congressman or senator, in a system which has been known to routinely elect dead men who died prior to the election date!
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The AMERICAN-PEOPLE dont want this...
This "Broadcast-Flag" atrocity has already been defeated repeatedly. But, once again the CORRUPT-POLITICIANS, which obviously represent NO-ONE but BIG-MONEY INTERESTS, are trying desperately to bend the system, to override the LAW, and the stated "...will of the American-People".

The final result of all of this (the "Broadcast-Flag", "Trusted-Computing", "Copyright" and government-authority being expanded to absolutely INSANE levels) will be that the "average American" will soon be nothing more than a "surf" deprived of any real rights to "property-ownership", "political-representation", "privacy" or "self-determination". All of those, "cherished American-values", will only exist at the whim of a few powerful "property-owners" who will run everybody elses lives through a SHAM-GOVERNMENT, and "legally-required" technological design-requirements, such as this.

In short, these LYING, self-interested CROOKS, are CLEARLY NOT a legitimate government, ...which operates under the Constitution, "...the law", and, the "...will of the people". In fact, these politicians are rapidly becoming THE VERY "...ENEMY" that our "...Founding Fathers" revolted against.
Posted by Had_to_be_said (384 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The AMERICAN-PEOPLE dont want this...
This "Broadcast-Flag" atrocity has already been defeated repeatedly. But, once again the CORRUPT-POLITICIANS, which obviously represent NO-ONE but BIG-MONEY INTERESTS, are trying desperately to bend the system, to override the LAW, and the stated "...will of the American-People".

The final result of all of this (the "Broadcast-Flag", "Trusted-Computing", "Copyright" and government-authority being expanded to absolutely INSANE levels) will be that the "average American" will soon be nothing more than a "surf" deprived of any real rights to "property-ownership", "political-representation", "privacy" or "self-determination". All of those, "cherished American-values", will only exist at the whim of a few powerful "property-owners" who will run everybody elses lives through a SHAM-GOVERNMENT, and "legally-required" technological design-requirements, such as this.

In short, these LYING, self-interested CROOKS, are CLEARLY NOT a legitimate government, ...which operates under the Constitution, "...the law", and, the "...will of the people". In fact, these politicians are rapidly becoming THE VERY "...ENEMY" that our "...Founding Fathers" revolted against.
Posted by Had_to_be_said (384 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The last check of government is the people.
It has become very obvious with the recent inditement of Tom DeLay, that the Federal government is under the control of the corporations. Enacting the broadcast flag removes freedoms of the people.
Coupled with the Patriot Act, DMCA, and gun control laws, the bill of rights has been effictively nixed.
It is time that the people checked the governments power.
Posted by wazzledoozle (288 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The last check of government is the people.
It has become very obvious with the recent inditement of Tom DeLay, that the Federal government is under the control of the corporations. Enacting the broadcast flag removes freedoms of the people.
Coupled with the Patriot Act, DMCA, and gun control laws, the bill of rights has been effictively nixed.
It is time that the people checked the governments power.
Posted by wazzledoozle (288 comments )
Reply Link Flag
So take your programming ELSEWHERE!
To quote:
"Program producers will naturally be reluctant to license their high value programs for digital distribution without protection from widespread acts of infringement over the Internet,"

Fine, then don't. Take your baseball and your bat and go home.

It really is that silly. Those who hesitate to license their programs will be the losers. There's no need for viewers (or legislators) to worry. There are enough willing producers out there to satify the demand.

By the way, the definition of BROADCAST is: To transmit (a radio or television program) for public or general use. The term "broadcast flag" is an oxymoron.
Posted by Jim Harmon (329 comments )
Reply Link Flag
So take your programming ELSEWHERE!
To quote:
"Program producers will naturally be reluctant to license their high value programs for digital distribution without protection from widespread acts of infringement over the Internet,"

Fine, then don't. Take your baseball and your bat and go home.

It really is that silly. Those who hesitate to license their programs will be the losers. There's no need for viewers (or legislators) to worry. There are enough willing producers out there to satify the demand.

By the way, the definition of BROADCAST is: To transmit (a radio or television program) for public or general use. The term "broadcast flag" is an oxymoron.
Posted by Jim Harmon (329 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How much were these politicians paid by the Motion Picture Industry
I guess that the 20 politicians have been paid (lobbied) by the motion picture industry to come up with this protectionist system. The next law will be to limit the control Apple has on iTunes music website and finally they will only be happy with a subscription to view any TV and the politicians will apply a local tax on it.

The only people to benefit will be the Media execs, their lawyers and yes the politicians who now benefit from the Motion Picture industries payoffs and bribes.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How much were these politicians paid by the Motion Picture Industry
I guess that the 20 politicians have been paid (lobbied) by the motion picture industry to come up with this protectionist system. The next law will be to limit the control Apple has on iTunes music website and finally they will only be happy with a subscription to view any TV and the politicians will apply a local tax on it.

The only people to benefit will be the Media execs, their lawyers and yes the politicians who now benefit from the Motion Picture industries payoffs and bribes.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Quality of HDTV
I wonder if it was my reception or did anyone notice the quality of last Mondays football on ABC HDTV broadcast. I thought my HDTV color had degraded and tried to adjust the color to stablize the white only to find out later it was their setting and the source. If that is going to be the quality of HDTV of the future, let the flag it, nobody is going to watch it anyhow.
Posted by wtortorici (102 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Quality of HDTV
I wonder if it was my reception or did anyone notice the quality of last Mondays football on ABC HDTV broadcast. I thought my HDTV color had degraded and tried to adjust the color to stablize the white only to find out later it was their setting and the source. If that is going to be the quality of HDTV of the future, let the flag it, nobody is going to watch it anyhow.
Posted by wtortorici (102 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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