FCC Takes Flak Over Flag

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Consumer advocates, fair-use fans and lots of libraries have told a Washington, D.C., Appeals Court that the Federal Communications Commission got too big for its regulatory britches when it adopted the broadcast-flag digital-distribution protection regime for over-the-air digital TV.

In a brief filed with the D.C. Court of appeals, the petitioners, which include Public Knowledge, Consumer's Union, Consumer Federation of America, and a shelf-full of library associations, argue that the FCC had no right to adopt the flag.

Although they concede the FCC has authority over the DTV transmissions, they argue that the flag does not come into play until after the transmission is received. "The Broadcast Flag resembles an assertion of FCC jurisdiction over an entire automobile simply because the car contains a satellite radio receiver,” they argued in the brief.

The groups fear the flag will put undue limitations on copying devices including TiVos, digital VCRs, iPods, and cell phones. “This is a crucial case that will determine how much control the government and Hollywood will have over current and future digital media devices,” said Public Knowledge President Gigi Sohn.

According to Public knowledge, the FCC has until Nov. 3 to respond in the case (American Library Association et al. v. FCC).  Oral argument is scheduled for Feb. 22.

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