Broadcast Flag

Today you can use any device you like with your television: VCR, TiVo, DVD recorder, home theater receiver, or a PC combining these functions and more. But if the broadcast flag mandate is passed, Hollywood and federal bureaucrats will get a veto over innovative devices and legitimate uses of recorded programming.

The mandate forces all future digital television (DTV) tuners to include "content protection" (aka DRM) technologies. All makers of HDTV receivers will be required to build their devices to watch for a "flag" embedded in programs by copyright holders.

When it comes to digital recording, it would be Hollywood's DRM way or the highway. Want to burn that recording digitally to a DVD to save hard drive space? Sorry—the DRM lock-box won't allow it. How about sending it over your home network to another TV? Not unless you rip out your existing network and replace it with DRMed routers. And forget about using open source TV tools. Kind of defeats the purpose of getting a high definition digital signal, doesn't it?

Responding to pressure from Hollywood, the FCC had originally mandated the flag—but thanks to our court challenge in ALA v. FCC, it was thrown out. But that doesn't mean the danger is behind us. Hollywood has headed to Congress to ask for the flag again.

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