New Senate Broadcast Flag Bill Would Freeze Fair Use
You say you want the power to time-shift and space-shift TV and radio? You say you want tomorrow's innovators to invent new TV and radio gizmos you haven't thought of yet, the same way the pioneers behind the VCR, TiVo, and the iPod did?
Well, that's not what the entertainment industry has in mind. According to them, here's all tomorrow's innovators should be allowed to offer you:
"customary historic use of broadcast content by consumers to the extent such use is consistent with applicable law."
Had that been the law in 1970, there would never have been a VCR. Had it been the law in 1990, no TiVo. In 2000, no iPod.
Fair use has always been a forward-looking doctrine. It was meant to leave room for new uses, not merely "customary historic uses." Sony was entitled to build the VCR first, and resolve the fair use questions in court later. This arrangement has worked well for all involved -- consumers, media moguls, and high technology companies.
Now the RIAA and MPAA want to betray that legacy by passing laws that will regulate new technologies in advance and freeze fair use forever. If it wasn't a "customary historic use," federal regulators will be empowered to ban the feature, prohibiting innovators from offering it. If the feature is banned, courts will never have an opportunity to pass on whether the activity is a fair use.
Voila, fair use is frozen in time. We'll continue to have devices that ape the VCRs and cassette decks of the past, but new gizmos will have to be submitted to the FCC for approval, where MPAA and RIAA lobbyists can kill it in the crib.
The new legislation, being circulated by Senator Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), is the first step down that path (and is eerily reminiscent of the infamous 2002 Hollings Bill). It would impose a broadcast flag mandate on all future digital TVs and radios, much like legislation discussed by the House last year.
We've covered the broadcast flag and radio flag extensively in the past. These measures would impose federal regulations on all devices capable of receiving digital television and digital radio signals. What's worse, the regulations won't do a thing to stop "piracy," since there are plenty of other ways to copy these broadcasts.
Sen. Smith's bill would retroactively ratify the FCC's broadcast flag regulations, rejected by the courts last year. This effort to impose content protection mechanisms in all future TVs is still just as terrible an idea now as ever.
The bill would also give the FCC authority to regulate the design of digital radios (both terrestrial HD Radio and XM and Sirius satellite). The bill envisions an "inter-industry" negotiation with a preordained outcome -- federal regulations mandating content protection mechanisms in all future HD Radio and satellite radio receivers.
The FCC regulations could make room for "customary historic uses of broadcast content by consumers to the extent such use is consistent with applicable law." Presumably, that means you could design a digital device just as good as an analog cassette deck, but no better.
Sorry, Sen. Smith, but American innovators and music fans deserve better.
Recent DeepLinks Posts
May 22, 2015
May 22, 2015
May 22, 2015
May 22, 2015
May 22, 2015
- Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the Balance
- Free Speech
- Know Your Rights
- Trade Agreements and Digital Rights
- State-Sponsored Malware
- Abortion Reporting
- Analog Hole
- Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement
- Bloggers' Rights
- Broadcast Flag
- Broadcasting Treaty
- Cell Tracking
- Coders' Rights Project
- Computer Fraud And Abuse Act Reform
- Content Blocking
- Copyright Trolls
- Council of Europe
- Cyber Security Legislation
- Defend Your Right to Repair!
- Defending Digital Voices
- Development Agenda
- Digital Books
- Digital Radio
- Digital Video
- DMCA Rulemaking
- Do Not Track
- E-Voting Rights
- EFF Europe
- Encrypting the Web
- Export Controls
- FAQs for Lodsys Targets
- File Sharing
- Fixing Copyright? The 2013-2015 Copyright Review Process
- Genetic Information Privacy
- Hollywood v. DVD
- How Patents Hinder Innovation (Graphic)
- International Privacy Standards
- Internet Governance Forum
- Law Enforcement Access
- Legislative Solutions for Patent Reform
- Locational Privacy
- Mandatory Data Retention
- Mandatory National IDs and Biometric Databases
- Mass Surveillance Technologies
- Medical Privacy
- National Security and Medical Information
- National Security Letters
- Net Neutrality
- No Downtime for Free Speech
- NSA Spying
- Online Behavioral Tracking
- Open Access
- Open Wireless
- Patent Busting Project
- Patent Trolls
- PATRIOT Act
- Pen Trap
- Policy Analysis
- Public Health Reporting and Hospital Discharge Data
- Reading Accessibility
- Real ID
- Search Engines
- Search Incident to Arrest
- Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act
- Social Networks
- SOPA/PIPA: Internet Blacklist Legislation
- Student and Community Organizing
- Surveillance and Human Rights
- Surveillance Drones
- Terms Of (Ab)Use
- Test Your ISP
- The "Six Strikes" Copyright Surveillance Machine
- The Global Network Initiative
- The Law and Medical Privacy
- Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
- Travel Screening
- Trusted Computing
- Video Games