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Broadcast Flag Stricken By Court

David Utter
Expert Author
Published: 2005-05-06

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A federal appellate court sides with the American Library Association and strikes down the FCC mandate.

The appeals court for the District of Columbia invalidated the so-called broadcast flag requirement, which was put into place in 2003. The Motion Picture Association of America had lobbied the FCC to take this step.

Beginning July 1, all new televisions and tuners were to have the ability to recognize and meet the requirement of a transmitted broadcast flag. This piece of information was intended to limit users of a program to only keeping a copy for backup purposes and not allow the program to be distributed.

The MPAA does not want its blockbuster movies broadcast with digital quality while being subject to piracy. But the appeals court decided the FCC went too far with its mandate.

Said Circuit Judge Edwards: "…administrative agencies may issue regulations only pursuant to authority delegated to them by Congress… In the seven decades of its existence, the FCC has never before asserted such sweeping authority. Indeed, in the past, the FCC has informed Congress that it lacked any such authority."

The court further clarified what it felt the FCC had misinterpreted in the Communications Act of 1934, in stating that while the FCC can regulate an apparatus while it is receiving a broadcast, it does not have the authority to regulate after a broadcast has been completed.

Since the effect of a broadcast flag would take effect with content after it had been broadcast, the court invalidated the FCC requirement.

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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

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