May 13th, 2005

flock

The broadcast flag may worm its way back in...

Ever hear of the "broadcast flag"? It's a flag bit settable in digital TV signals that, when noticed by devices that process digital TV signals, causes the devices to refuse to record the digital TV signal. In other words, it's a way that TV stations and TV networks can deny you the ability to do what has, since the Betamax decision, been considered fair use.

A while back the FCC mandated that all TVs, VCRs, etc. made after a certain date (I believe it's July 1, 2005) check for and honor the broadcast flag bit. Recently a court declared that the FCC didn't have the right to mandate such a thing.

But wait...we're not out of the woods yet. All it takes is for Congress to pass a law saying "Yes, the FCC does have the right to do that," and we're screwed again. According to an article cited in this Slashdot entry, the MPAA has put together a bill to shove through Congress to do just that. Please contact your Congresscritters and express your opinion on this matter.
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