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April 17, 2004
Did the RIAA illegally lobby the FCC for digital radio DRM?
As Ernie noted recently, the FCC has issued as Notice of Inquiry on the feasibility of mandating DRM for digital radio, starting a process to take us all kicking-and-screaming down the same road it did when it forced the Broadcast Flag on the future of digital televison.
Beyond skepticism regarding the necessity for such invasive regulation, the action has also raised suspicions about the origin of the action, since (unlike with the Broadcast Flag) there has been to date no mandate from Congress for such action, no record on the subject in the FCC docket, and no attempt by the RIAA to work out an industry solution.
Well, yesterday Public Knowledge, one of the key groups opposing the BFlag, raised a red flag of its own regarding the FCC's actions by filing a FOIA request to disclose all communications between the RIAA and the FCC on the issue of digital radio:
There has to be a reason why the Commission was so drastically prepared to change course, and it didnt show up in the required public filings, said Gigi B. Sohn, president of Public Knowledge. Sohn also said she did not find credible the RIAA assertions that the group didnt know it had to disclose its contact with FCC commissioners and staff.
If the request turns up any previously undocumented communications, the RIAA will have vioalted the Ex Parte disclosure laws. The FCC has 20 days to respond to the request.
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