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EFFector - Volume 15, Issue 39 - EFF Rejects Broadcast Flag

EFFector       Vol. 15, No. 39       December 14, 2002     ren@eff.org

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424

In the 238th Issue of EFFector:

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Urges FCC to Stop Hollywood from Dominating Technology

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) last Friday rejected Hollywood's "Broadcast Flag" proposal, advising the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to set aside Hollywood's latest bid to undermine fair use and stymie innovation.

EFF filed comments with the FCC opposing the Broadcast Flag proposal because the proposal would give Hollywood unwarranted control over the development of digital television (DTV) and related technologies to the detriment of creators and consumers of the technologies.

"A broadcast flag mandate is an ineffective solution to a non-existent problem," explained EFF in its comments on the proposed rulemaking submitted to the FCC. "At the same time, any broadcast flag mandate will impose genuine and substantial costs on consumers and innovators. It would raise the cost of DTV devices while reducing the value that they represent to consumers. It would stifle innovation in DTV and general-purpose technologies. It would abridge the First Amendment freedoms of software authors. All of this, in the end, will impede, rather than encourage, the transition to DTV."

The Broadcast Flag--a signal to be added to all DTV broadcasts--is a critical weapon in Hollywood's arsenal aimed at strangling innovation and fair use. In the "Content Protection Status Report," the entertainment industry sets out a roadmap for giving entertainment companies control over the design of general-purpose computers, over analog-to-digital converters, and over the Internet itself.

The FCC initiated the Broadcast Flag proceedings last summer after receiving a letter from Senator Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, author of the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act (CBDTPA). The CBDTPA is a sweeping proposal that would require technologists to seek permission from entertainment companies prior to making new technologies available to the public. Industry observers have described the Broadcast Flag as a "mini-CBDTPA."

EFF has led the effort to educate the public about the Broadcast Flag, attending every meeting of the Motion Picture Association of America's Broadcast Protection Discussion Group and popularizing relevant issues on the "Consensus at Lawyerpoint" weblog.

Links:
For this release:
http://www.eff.org/IP/Video/HDTV/20021209_eff_bpdg_pr.html

EFF comments to FCC on Broadcast Flag proposal:
http://www.eff.org/IP/Video/HDTV/20021206_fcc_comments.html

Consensus at Lawyerpoint weblog:
http://bpdg.blogs.eff.org/

GNU Radio:
http://www.gnu.org/software/gnuradio/gnuradio.html

EFF "Intellectual Property - Video - HDTV/BPDG/Digital Television/Digital Cable" archive:
http://www.eff.org/IP/Video/HDTV/

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Bedford, MA - Bare Bones Software recently announced they will donate US$10 to EFF for every copy of BBEdit purchased directly from them at the full retail or cross-upgrade price through December 31, 2002.

"We have tremendous respect for the EFF's role as a defender of civil liberties in the electronic age," said Rich Siegel, founder, president and CEO. "We are proud of the role our products play in their mission, and we're pleased to offer our material support of their efforts."

For more information on BBEdit, or to download a fully functional demo version, visit the company's web site:

Links:
http://www.barebones.com/products/bbedit.html

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The Electronic Frontier Foundation established the Pioneer Awards to recognize leaders on the electronic frontier who are extending freedom and innovation in the realm of information technology.

The International Pioneer Awards nominations are open to both individuals and organizations from any country.

All nominations are reviewed by a panel of judges chosen for their knowledge of the technical, legal, and social issues associated with information technology.

The 12th Annual Pioneer Awards in 2002 will be held in New York, NY in conjunction with CFP during the first week in April.

2002 EFF Pioneer Award winners were:

  • Dan Gillmor
  • Beth Givens
  • the DeCSS authors

How to Nominate Someone for 2003

You may send as many nominations as you wish, but please use one e-mail per nomination. You may submit your entries via e-mail to:
pioneer@eff.org

Just tell us:

  1. The name of the nominee
  2. The phone number or e-mail address at which the nominee can be reached and, most importantly
  3. Why you feel the nominee deserves the award

You may attach supporting documentation as RTF files, Microsoft Word documents or other common binary formats, and plain text format.

Nominee Criteria

There are no specific categories for the EFF Pioneer Awards, but the following guidelines apply:

  1. The nominees must have contributed substantially to the health, growth, accessibility, or freedom of computer-based communications.
  2. The contribution may be technical, social, economic, or cultural.
  3. Nominations may be of individuals, systems, or organizations in the private or public sectors.
  4. Nominations are open to all (other than EFF staff & board and this year's award judges), and you may nominate more than one recipient. You may also nominate yourself or your organization.
  5. To be valid, all nominations must contain your reason, however brief, for nominating the individual or organization, a means of contacting the nominee, and your own contact information. Anonymous nominations are accepted, but we'd ideally like to contact the nominating parties in case we need further information.
  6. Persons or representatives of organizations receiving an EFF Pioneer Award will be invited to attend the ceremony at the Foundation's expense.

Links:
Submissions may be sent to:
pioneer@eff.org

Pioneer Award Site:
http://www.eff.org/awards/pioneer.html

CFP 2003 Site:
http://www.cfp2003.org/

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Deep Links
Deep Links features noteworthy news items, victories, and threats from around the Internet.

~ New Tools for Domestic Spying, and Qualms
EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn makes a cameo in this NY Times article. (Note - Free registration may be necessary)
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/10/national/10PRIV.html

~ Big Brother, Take My Little Sister!
Ever wondered which toys might get you arrested next Christmas? (Note - Free registration may be necessary)
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/08/business/yourmoney/08SLAS.html

~ The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves
USA Today op-ed on the recording industry's (misguided) approach to digital music.
http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/2002-12-09-our-view_x.htm

~ Why Copyright Today Threatens Intellectual Freedom
The Free Expression Policy Project released this cool new study.
http://www.fepproject.org/policyreports/copyright.html

~ Slashdot Creates EFF Slashboxes!
They're a must if you frequent Slashdot.org. Get the latest EFF Action Alerts and news with the rest of your geeky info diet. (Note - You have to be logged in to use this link)
http://slashdot.org/users.pl?op=edithome

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Editor:
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