ALA v. FCC

American Library Association v. Federal Communications Commission

In a unanimous decision the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the broadcast flag the FCC rule that would have crippled digital television receivers starting July 1. The ruling came in ALA v. FCC a challenge led by Public Knowledge and EFF.

The court ruled as we had argued that the FCC lacked authority to regulate what happens inside your TV or computer once it has received a broadcast signal. The broadcast flag rule would have required all signal demodulators to "recognize and give effect to" a broadcast flag forcing them not to record or output an unencrypted high-def digital signal if the flag were set. This technology mandate set to take effect July 1 would have stopped the manufacture of open hardware that has enabled us to build our own digital television recorders.

The fight isn't over yet though. The flag's proponents at MPAA will be headed to Congress to get authority for the rule and we'll be looking for your help fighting that.

If Congress takes this up we hope it will address the important public interest concerns raised by this unprecedented federal technology mandate. During the development of the broadcast flag both before and after it was submitted to the FCC the concerns of smaller innovators (like Elgato Systems leading maker of HDTV PVR software for the Mac) libraries archives consumer groups and open source developers were ignored. Congress will have an opportunity to correct this mistake if it takes this issue up.

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