May 23, 2005 | By Wendy Seltzer

EFF Members Build Liberated TVs

Lots of people were watching television at EFF's offices Saturday -- not on television sets, but on high-definition personal video recorders (PVRs) they built themselves. EFF hosted the DTV build-in to celebrate our courtroom victory over the FCC's Broadcast Flag.

As the Chicago Tribune put it:
"Imagine a government bureaucrat sitting on top of your television set to decide if you can record a television show to watch later." That's what the Broadcast Flag would have done. The Broadcast Flag rule gave the FCC power to veto new TV technologies, whether created by consumer electronics manufacturers or Saturday hobbyists. By beating the flag, we gave manufacturers and hobbyists the right to build devices they and their customers want, to watch and record TV as they choose.

Hollywood is now going back to Washington, asking Congress to give FCC the power to impose the Broadcast Flag. The Tribune reminds us these same industries protested the sale of VCRs, too -- nearly killing what's now a cash cow.

Now it is digital television that offers a seemingly endless range of entertainment choices and services. But, like all new technologies, its potential can be hampered by overzealous politicians and regulators whose reflexes lag far behind the rapidly changing marketplace and public tastes.

Movie viewers, producers, and distributors have benefited mightily from technology that offers consumers more choices. Congress should think long and hard before telling people they will not be able to use the newest technology at their convenience.

If you agree, tell Congress not to break your television. Ask your representative to reject the Broadcast Flag and any other government technology mandate that will interfere with technological innovation.

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