Friday, November 07, 2003

Declan McCullagh's piece on the FCC's introduction of the broadcast flag, "Are PCs next in Hollywood piracy battle?", has been published by the New York Times.

"What FCC officials did not stress, but their regulations do, is that the product definitions are broad enough to cover not just TV
tuners but also PCs. "This necessarily includes PC and (information technology) products that are used for off-air DTV (digital
television) reception," the FCC's order says...

Will Rodger, director of public policy at the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), said the rule is
troubling because it means the FCC is encroaching on a technological sector that has flourished in the absence of regulation."

As Ernest Miller said earlier in the week,

"Prof. Ed Felten makes a good point on Freedom to Tinker about the FCC's justifications for the Broadcast Flag - they are incoherent (The Broadcast Flag, and Threat Model Confusion). The justifications for the broadcast flag and the effect of the broadcast flag are tangentially related at best. In the words of the FCC, "the broadcast flag seeks only to prevent mass distribution over the Internet." Additionally, according to the FCC, "consumers’ ability to make digital copies will not be affected."

Whether or not you agree with the justifications is not the question. The issue is whether the means the FCC has chosen are suited to the justifications. As Felten points out, they are not. The action the FCC has taken will not significantly, if at all, "prevent mass distribution over the Internet." It will, however, impede the average consumer's ability to make copies for friends and family.

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