Copyright Office: Attacks on b'cast flag 'incorrect'

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Broadcasters and Hollywood appear to have the upper hand in the fight over
technology designed to stop illegal Internet retransmission of broadcast digital
TV programs, at least if the comments of the head of the Copyright Office are
any indication.

Marybeth Peters, U.S. register of copyrights, told lawmakers Thursday that
many opponents of the "broadcast flag" overstate consumers' home recording
rights when criticizing the flag, the broadcast industry's and Hollywood's
preferred method of preventing unauthorized redistribution of valuable digital
content, although she expressed no opinion on the legality of the flag.

Peters' views carry weight because the Copyright Office is the chief adviser
to Congress on copyright regulation and administers various compulsory licensing
arrangements, including collecting royalties.

The suggestion that consumers have a court-mandated right to create libraries
of recorded shows, distribute copies to friends or initiate a variety of other
uses "is simply incorrect," Peters said during a hearing held by the House
Judiciary Committee's Intellectual Property Subcommittee.

Silicon Valley and consumer-electronics manufacturers oppose the mandate,
fearing that it will needlessly increase consumers' costs and violate "fair-use"
rights.

Lawmakers warned the Federal Communications Commission not to overstep its
authority if it decides to require broadcast-flag technology in digital
recording and storage devices.

Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the subcommittee's ranking Democrat, said the FCC could
order inclusion of the equipment, but the strengthening of copy protections
was the domain of Congress and the Copyright Office.

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