Flag Foes Justify Day in Court


Public Knowledge, the American Library Association, and other petitioners have made their case for standing in their challenge to the FCC's decision approving the broadcast flag, which would imbed a code in digital broadcasts to prevent them being widely copied and distributed.

The majority of a three-judge panel of the D.C. Appeals Court told the petitioners they had failed to establish their right to bring the court challenge.

To establish standing, they must identify a member of any of their groups whose redistribution of TV content, say a news broadcast for distant-learning purposes, would be demonstrably and directly harmed by the flag. They must also explain how the FCC's decision would produce that harm.

In Tuesday's brief, Public Knowledge et. al. cited abunch of them. including the North Carolina State University Library's Internet distribution of video clips for distance learning as threatened by the flag, as well as American University in Washington, UCLA, and Vanderbilt. All were indentified as parties whose educational video operations would be harmed either by restrictions or by the expense of upgrading to flag-compliant equipment.

Other harmed parties cited included a couple of bloggers who said they would no longer be able to use broadcast clips to annotate their blogs, the marketer of an HDTV tuner card, and a user of the pc-based PVR like device, MythTV, which works in concert with a tuner card.

Studios argue that they need the flag to prevent widespread digital piracy, the threat of which is making content providers reluctant to make their intellectual property available, which in turn is slowing the switch to digital broadcasting.

The flag plugs the so-called "digital hole," preventing peer-to-peer and internet sharing of digital content.

But Public Knowledege and other fair use advocates fear the flag will put undue limitations on copying devices including TiVos, digital VCRs, iPods, tuner cards, MythTV-like PVRs, 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,” Public Knowledge President Gigi Sohn has said.

MPAA and the FCC now have 10 days to file their response to the new brief.