Red-Flag Case Gets Green Light


A Federal Appeals Court in Washington, D.C., won't delay the case determining the fate of the Federal Communications Commission's "broadcast flag," despite a request by the agency to slow down. 

 A coalition of consumer activist groups and library associations have asked the court to strike down the FCC's mandate, which requires digital TV's and recording devices to honor codes producers can insert into programs to prevent retransmission over the Internet.
The FCC asked the court to delay the case until the agency finished its own reconsideration of the rules. Broadcasters and Hollywood fought for the rules to protect high-definition movies and other digital content from unauthorized distribution. Opponents, however, say the restriction violates consumers' home recording rights and that the FCC has no jurisdiction to impose the rules.
Holding the case in abeyance would have been a defeat for the consumer groups because the mandate kicks in July 1, 2005. That would likely not have been enough time for the court to restart its case after the FCC finishes its reconsideration, then come to a ruling before the kick-in date.
Once the mandate is triggered, set makers won't want the expense of retooling production lines to remove flag technology even if the mandate was eliminated by judges, explained Public Knowledge President Gigi  Sohn. “Had the court decision gone the other way, the broadcast flag would have become the television standard regardless of the ultimate outcome of the case.”