Tauzin sets deadline for broadcast flag


House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.) is
giving movie studios, consumer-electronics manufacturers and technology
companies six weeks to come up with a firm technology and policy solution to the
digital-television-copyright problem.

'Everyone agreed that it was doable,' Tauzin spokesman Ken Johnson said. 'If
anyone was shaking their head no, they were doing it in the hallway afterwards.'

Attending the meeting were key members and staff of the committee, as well as
National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Robert Sachs, Motion Picture Association of America president Jack Valenti, News Corp. chief
technology officer Andy Setos and other industry executives.

The industries released a report last week stating that they had agreed to develop
a copyright standard for digital television called the 'broadcast flag.'

While Valenti and the MPAA admitted that there were some dissenting views in the
report, they pointed out that out of 70 organizations that participated in the
discussion, only 14 listed dissenting comments on one or more issues.

'Implementation of the broadcast flag will permit digital-TV stations to
obtain high-value content and assure consumers a continued source of attractive,
free, over-the-air programming without limiting the consumer's ability to make
home copies,' Valenti said in a prepared statement.

Consumer-electronics manufacturers Thomson Multimedia and Zenith Electronics Corp. sent letters to Tauzin
indicating their support of the technology.

Meanwhile, some consumer groups, such as the Electronic
Frontier Foundation and DigitalConsumer.org
, would prefer to see no copyright standard created.

'A broadcast flag would just increase Hollywood's control over new
technologies,' EFF senior staff attorney Fred von Lohmann said. 'They want to put a yoke around the neck of technology
companies so that they no longer have the freedom to build what they like. Instead,
they have to build what Hollywood likes.'

On Tuesday morning, the EFF sent a letter to Tauzin, listing why it doesn't agree
with the report and asking for a more inclusive process.

And on Monday, Larry Blanford, president and CEO of
Philips Consumer Electronics North America, called on Congress to create a
public-policy forum to settle the issue. 'Essentially, this process allows a few
studios and a small, private consortium of technology companies that want to
control content to dictate how licenses will be granted,' Blanford said.