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FCC Broadcast Flag Mandate Rejected

David Utter
Expert Author
Published: 2005-05-09

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The District of Columbia's Circuit Court says the regulatory agency overstepped its authority.

In a move that delighted free speech advocates and enraged Hollywood entertainment lobbyists, the court invalidated the mandated inclusion of broadcast flag technology in all new televisions and tuners.

The mandate was to have taken effect on July 1. Any device capable of receiving broadcast television, including PC tuner cards, was to have the ability to recognize and obey instructions transmitted as part of a broadcast flag.

Hollywood interests lobbied the Federal Communication Commission for the measure as a way to protect against video piracy.

Without the flag, Hollywood claimed it could not license films to over-the-air broadcast networks. Digital technology without an anti-piracy safeguard would mean films could be rebroadcast in high-definition by anyone.

The court disagreed with the FCC, stating that while the agency can regulate devices that receive broadcasts, it can't regulate what is done with a broadcast after it has been received.

Further, the court noted that the FCC itself had in past years admitted it had no authority over this area.

Hollywood will likely lobby lawmakers on Capitol Hill to take up the issue there.

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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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