Rough Book

random musings of just another computer nerd

Tag: broadcast flag

You have 48 hours to stop the Broadcast Flag

Ladies and Gentlemen, you have 48 hours to stop the broadcast flag. If you remember, they tried this sometime ago, but it was struck down. What is the Broadcast Flag? Basically it is a way for the money-hungry bastards at Hollywood and the MPAA to control what you can view, and when. Today, you can easily download HDTV content to view at a time that’s convenient for you. If the broadcast flag is in effect, there are a few things that you will not be able to do. Restrictions can take the form of the following:

  • Flagged content cannot be saved. Even if you are able to save them, there will most probably be reduction in quality.
  • You will be unable to skip commercials. This is the same deal with the bullshit they show you in DVD’s these days. You have to sit through the previews and commercials before you can get to the actual movie.
  • You will not be able to burn downloaded content from the hard-disk into a DVD, if you wanted to save space.
  • Want to send the content to another node on the home network, or another TV? Nope. The broadcast flag won’t let you do that either.
  • Content can only be viewed by “authorized” devices. So suddenly you’ll have to replace all your hardware with ones that have been “blessed” by the assholes at the MPAA

End result? A big “fuck you” to consumer rights. Of course, the MPAA and Hollywood will tell you that this is all done to fight piracy. In addition to that, they will even tell you that you might be helping terrorists because of piracy, so of course, this is also helping “The War Against Terror”. It never surprises me how low these bastards can go. The broadcast flag is complete abomination. There is no way it will make a dent in piracy, especially large-scale. Current use of consumer electronics by American citizens to download and view shows at a later time, fall entirely within fair-use rights. If the flag is authorized, everyone will need Hollywood’s permission before they can create anything, or risk being sued. I can only see this stifling innovation.

This underhanded and cowardly tactic is not new for them. If you remember, they tried to sue VCR makers and MP3 player makers. If we had these kinds of laws 20 to 25 years ago, we wouldn’t have many of the things we take for granted today. Things like MP3’s and iPods. Hollywood and the MPAA have a right to distribute their content. But when that right encroaches upon my right to decide WHAT to do with that content, and how I decide to view it and when and where I decide to view it, I have a problem.

So what can you do about this? Go ahead and sign a petition, or call your senators. Make a stand now.

FCC Broadcast flag struck down!

From C|Net News:

Court yanks down FCC’s broadcast flag

Published: May 6, 2005, 9:52 AM PDT
By Declan McCullagh
Staff Writer, CNET News.com

In a stunning victory for hardware makers and television buffs, a federal appeals court has tossed out government rules that would have outlawed many digital TV receivers and tuner cards starting July 1.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled Friday that the Federal Communications Commission did not have the authority to prohibit the manufacture of computer and video hardware that doesn’t have copy protection technology known as the “broadcast flag.” The regulations, which the FCC created in November 2003, had been intended to limit unauthorized Internet redistribution of over-the-air TV broadcasts.

Full Article

Let me be the first to say, take that you bastards! Time and again, I’ve seen how consumer rights are being stamped on by the RIAA, MPAA, and the FCC and by such bullshit laws like the DMCA. Finally we have something that actually helps the consumers. A major victory, for sure.

The court was absolutely correct in this ruling. The FCC has no constitutional authority. They overstepped their bounds, and had no right imposing their authority over consumer choice and the private industry.

However, I don’t know if this is the end of the broadcast flags, since the courts have basically said that the FCC needs to go to Congress. So I’m pretty sure the MPAA is lobbying pretty hard right now and calling in some favours. But at the very least, you have people in the Congress who are accountable and answerable to their constituencies, which wasn’t the case with the FCC. I hope this pans out well in the end.

There were also some funny remarks from the judges about the case:

“You’re out there in the whole world, regulating. Are washing machines next?” asked Judge Harry Edwards. Quipped Judge David Sentelle: “You can’t regulate washing machines. You can’t rule the world.”

Heh. Right on the mark. The story is also on Slashdot.

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