Public Knowledge’s Policy Blog has a rundown summary of today’s Senate Commerce Committee hearing on the Broadcast Flag. According to PK Sen. John Sununu was the hero of the day, questioning why Congress needed to interevene and noting that other technologies, like VHS videotape, flourished without government mandated protections.
If there wasn’t a consensus on the broadcast flag for TV and video, PK’s acurtis says the committee was generally critical of extending the flag to radio. According to CNET’s Declan McCullagh, even the National Association of Broadcasters isn’t in favor of a broadcast flag for radio
Every time you think the Broadcast Flag is dead, it comes back more bloated and evil, with this version trying to plug up the so-called “analog hole.” The hole is the fact that once a signal becomes analog (to go into a speaker, or an analog TV, for instance) digital copyright controls don’t work anymore, even if copies aren’t as good as identical digital copies.
Although the copyright cartel could implement anti-copying technologies right now, they need the cooperation of the electronics industry, which has less interest in screwing its customers. So because the entire electronics industry can’t be coerced into making their recording devices slaves to the RIAA and MPAA, the cartel has to run crying to Congress to make it law.
The most recent draft of the Broadcast Flag bill is even more evil than before, with provisions to effectively kill fair use, as the EFF points out:
You say you want the power to time-shift and space-shift TV and radio? You say you want tomorrow’s innovators to invent new TV and radio gizmos you haven’t thought of yet, the same way the pioneers behind the VCR, TiVo, and the iPod did?
Well, that’s not what the entertainment industry has in mind. According to them, here’s all tomorrow’s innovators should be allowed to offer you:
“customary historic use of broadcast content by consumers to the extent such use is consistent with applicable law.”
Had that been the law in 1970, there would never have been a VCR. Had it been the law in 1990, no TiVo. In 2000, no iPod.
Please, will the capitalists in charge of Disney, Viacom, Sony/BMG, Time-Warner/AOL, and their brethren tell us again about how bad regulation is?
Viva la free market! Death to the record button!