Bag Flag!, Fair Use Fans Tell Hill

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Libraries and fair-use advocates who succeeded in getting a court to throw out the FCC's broadcast flag decision want to make sure Congress doesn't undo their weeks-old victory.

The D.C. Court of appeals struck the flag May 6, saying the FCC didn't have the authority to mandate a post-transmission technology. The flag was meant to prevent TV shows from being digitally distributed at will.

Broadcasters and the studios whose product the flag would protect are pushing Congress to reinstate the flag as they consider bills to advance the DTV transition. 

In a letter faxed Friday to members of the House and Senate Commerce Committees th group, which includes Public Knowledge, Free Press, the Electric Frontier Foundation, and the American Library Association, reiterate that the flag will hurt consumers, hinder education, and stifle innovation.

Broadcasters and studios counter that the flag will protect content from piracy, their business models from the ravages of wholesale theft, and allow the digital transition to proceed more swiftly.

"Congress should not reinstate this broad, intrusive regulation which would entangle the government in massive industrial policy and place harsh new limits on what consumers and others can lawfully do with free over-the-air television," the letter concludes.

"Now that a federal court has lowered the broadcast flag, we urge Congress to think twice before raising it again. We ask you to oppose legislation that would ratify the FCC's broadcast flag rule."

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