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November 3rd, 2005: Public Knowledge president Gigi B. Sohn testified before the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property in an oversight hearing on "Content Protection in the Digital Age: The Broadcast Flag, High-Definition Radio, and the Analog Hole". Testimony was also provided by: Michael Petricone, CEA; Dan Glickman, MPAA; and Mitch Bainwol, RIAA. Testimony centered on three discussion drafts offered by the MPAA and RIAA: The Broadcast Flag Authorization Act; The HD Radio Content Protection Act; and The Analog Content Protection Act.
PK legal intern Neil Chilson provides the following summary of the hearing as it related to the three different protection schemes:
Broadcast Flag -- The content industry is fighting tooth-and-nail to keep the broadcast flag alive. Their latest legislative push is to have Congress reinstate wholesale the FCC order that Public Knowledge defeated in the District Court. But giving the FCC jurisdiction only solves one of the procedural issues of the broadcast flag; all the substantive flaws of this overly-broad government-mandated technology remain. During the hearing, Gigi emphasized that the broadcast flag would prevent congressmen from sending their television appearances to the home office, and keep the Parents TV Council from excerpting TV shows on their website. Even though many of the participants in the hearing are (unwisely) invested in the broadcast flag, Gigi made a principled stand for consumers and their rights.
HD Radio Content Protection -- Lead by the RIAA, the content industry has proposed onerous legislation that would mandate end-to-end encryption of digital radio signals and require all receiving devices to recognize and enforce the broadcaster-chosen DRM rules for content. This legislation would ban recording off the radio, mandate a single technology, and potentially destroy this innovative yet nascent form of broadcasting. While CEA's Michael Petricone took the brunt of the hearing's questions on this topic, Gigi added PK's voice in opposition to this legislation.
Analog Hole -- This convoluted and lengthy statute (delivered to us two days prior to the hearing) would require that all devices capable of turning an analog video signal into a digital video signal be forced to recognize and enforce two forms of content protection. This would negatively affect the design of everything from video cameras to certain hospital equipment. Public Knowledge opposes this horrible technology mandate and Gigi made our position clear during the hearing, noting that event the content industry itself had argued that the analog hole was a safety valve for fair use under the strictures of the DMCA. It was also clear that the proponents of the bill didn't fully understand it themselves.
Public Knowledge's testimony can be found here:
Copies of the three discussion drafts are available here: