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We won the broadcast flag case, but this thing just won’t die!
You’ve heard that some in Congress want to bless the FCC and
reinstate the broadcast flag, but how could they do such a thing
without even a hearing or without us all knowing?
Public Knowledge has discovered that the
“powers-that-be” may attempt to sneak the broadcast flag
onto a spending bill. That’s right, we’ve heard word
that The Senate Committee on Appropriations (the committee that
decides how your tax dollars are spent, or appropriated) will be
considering the spending bill TOMORROW, and that
broadcast flag may be hitching a ride as an amendment. Without any
debate, the content protection scheme could be added to a bill that
was originally meant to spend money—not protect content.
We need your help right now! If you live in one of the following
MS, AK, PA, NM, MO, KY, MT, AL, NH, UT, ID, TX, OH, KS, CO, WV, HI,
VT, IA, MD, NV, WI, WA, ND, CA, IL, SD, LA
one of your Senators is on the Appropriations Committee, and they
need to hear from you TODAY. Click here to find out
your Senator’s phone number here,
pick up the phone now, and ask your Senator to oppose any broadcast
flag appropriations amendments. The following talking points should
- There has been No Debate in the Appropriations Committee over
the Broadcast Flag.
- No Government Mandated DRM: Content protection is one thing, but
government mandated content protection that puts the FCC in the role
of gatekeeper for new technologies is wrong. There are other options
for protecting content, and the marketplace should sort them out.
- Broadcast Flag is Not Narrow: There is no “narrow”
way to implement the broadcast flag scheme because it necessarily
puts the FCC in the role of gatekeeper, having to approve and
certify every technology that might carry DTV - computers,
cellphones, gameboys, etc. As proof of the broad scope of the flag,
when petitioned to exempt lawful uses of digital television, the FCC
declined saying “practical and legal difficulties of
determining which types of broadcast content merit protection from
indiscriminate redistribution and which do not.”
- Causes Consumer Confusion and Will Slow DTV Transition: At a
time when Congress is concerned about making television sets
obsolete at the end of the DTV transition, the flag would similarly
render obsolete much consumer equipment because commonly used
devices will not work together unless all use the same copy
protection technology. The flag will not help the transition to DTV,
and indeed might harm it because it makes consumers’ TVs less
functional than before.
- Limits Fair Use: As the May 11, 2005 Congressional Research
Service report noted, the flag will prevent important fair uses,
like the ability of teachers to engage in distance learning and the
ability of individuals to email fair use portions of works to
themselves and others.
- Not about P2P: The infringement associated with Revenge of the
Sith and other movies that have appeared online has absolutely
nothing to do with the flag. Rather, the flag is about protecting
supposedly “free” over the air digital television. MPAA
provided no evidence that this content was being pirated nor would
it be anytime in the near future.
- Content Already Shown in HD with NO PROTECTION: In contrast to
the argument that broadcasters won’t put on “high
value” content, we note that most prime time television is
already broadcast in HDTV, without protection. Viacom threatened in
2002 to withhold programming, but did not do so and is now one of
the leading producers of HDTV.
- Court Spoke to the Merits: The D.C. Circuit’s broadcast
flag decision was not merely “procedural.” In ruling
that the FCC did not have the authority to impose a broadcast flag
scheme, the Court was ruling on the scheme’s merits - namely,
that it is so far reaching in its scope that it would permit the
FCC, in the words of one judge at oral argument, to regulate
The Public Knowledge Team
June 20, 2005