July 7, 2005 | By Wendy Seltzer

A Flag-Waving Salute to Open Digital TV

As Fourth of July fireworks fade, don't forget another
cause for celebration this month: our independence from
the Broadcast Flag. July 1, 2005, was the date set for
the FCC's Broadcast Flag mandate to take effect. But
thanks to a court challenge by Public Knowledge,
EFF, library associations, and consumer rights groups,
the DC Circuit vacated the mandate. It ruled that the FCC
can't order hardware makers to cripple their digital TV
products. Because of that victory, manufacturers
like Elgato or pcHDTV can continue to produce open
hardware to turn your computer into a digital video
, and consumer electronics companies are free
to design high-definition television recorders that
put you, the viewer, first.

We extend the holiday thanks to the thousands of EFF
and Public Knowledge supporters who wrote or called their
senators last month
when it looked as though Hollywood
would slip a Broadcast Flag amendment into an
appropriations bill. You told them this wasn't a Flag
for freedom, and they listened. Congress hasn't
passed a Flag bill, and we know your representatives
will have your concerns in mind if the Hollywood
lobbyists try again.

A Broadcast Flag rule would harm innovators, forcing
them to get government approval to offer new
technologies. It would also harm open source developers,
whose open software and hardware wouldn't satisfy the
rule as "robust" against user modification. And it
would harm the public, limiting our ability to choose
compelling, interoperable devices to watch and remix
television the way we want.

So amid the holiday flag-waving, here's thanks for a
Flag that no longer waves.

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