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Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

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June 1, 2005

CommDaily: MPAA May Not Seek Broadcast Flag in DTV Bill

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Last week Ernie Miller brought to our attention a news report revealing that none of the legislators pondering a new law to mandate the switch to digital television appeared to oppose the inclusion of a broadcast flag provision (Broadcast Flag Rears Its Ugly Head in DTV Transition Hearings). Not a surprise, but nonetheless deeply disappointing.

Now we have some extraordinarily good news from Communications Daily: someone does oppose the provision. Even better news: that someone is the bill's main author.

Reports CommDaily (unfortunately behind a pay wall):


The Motion Picture Association of America is unlikely to push for a broadcast flag component in DTV legislation establishing a 2008 hard date because the bill's main author, House Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX), is against the provision. Meanwhile, the MPAA will keep briefing House and Senate members on a broadcast flag bill's importance and seek other ways to get the content protections it wants.

A new Congressional Research Service report raises concerns that the broadcast flag's technological limitations could hinder activities normally deemed "fair use" under copyright law. For instance, students might not be able to email themselves copies of projects incorporating digital video content because no secure system exists for email transmission. "The goal of the flag was not to impede a consumer's ability to copy or use content lawfully in the home, nor was the policy intended to 'foreclose use of the Internet to send digital broadcast content where it can be adequately protected from indiscriminate redistribution,'" the report said, quoting from the FCC order.


Limit fair use, you say? Whaddaya know.

I'm tracking down a copy of that report, and will post when I find it; stay tuned.

(Cross-posted @ Deep Links.)

Update: It looks like the "new" report [PDF] was released in April, before the DC Circuit struck down the Broadcast Flag. It repeats the FCC's assertion of authority to impose the Flag but also notes the objections of public interest organizations (Public Knowledge, EFF, et al.). Evidently, the new bit is that Congressman Barton is (presumably) citing the report to justify his distaste for the Broadcast Flag provision. Nice.

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