The FCC is considering whether to impose a "broadcast flag" content protection scheme on digital broadcast radio (a.k.a. DAB or HD Radio). The RIAA is pushing for the flag, which would impose FCC technology mandates on all future digital radio receivers. Apparently, the MPAA's success in getting preemptive FCC regulation of next generation televisions emboldened the RIAA to seek a similar regime for digital radio.
EFF has filed two sets of comments on this issue. Now, you may be wondering why we care about this little FCC backwater proceeding. After all, nobody has an HD Radio yet. The format might not even succeed. So who cares?
Well, in their latest comments, Disney (which is an RIAA member, and owns ABC Radio Networks and four record labels) let slip what this is all about:
In addition, to the extent the Commission considers such a content protection mechanism, it should also consider whether to extend that mechanism to all music distribution platforms, including satellite digital audio radio service, the Internet and broadcast radio service.
Got that? Disney wants the FCC to regulate all devices capable of recording from any audio broadcasting medium or from the Internet. FM radio, XM, Sirius, Streamripper, Total Recorder, you're all in the crosshairs. It's the Hollings Bill all over again.