D.C. Circuit Seems Wary of Broadcast Flag

On Tuesday a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals heard a case advanced by the American Library Association and eight partners challenging the validity of an FCC decision to require digital television sets and video recorders to comply with broadcast flag technology. A broadcast flag is essentially a copy protection mechanism embedded in the data stream of DTV content. “Activation” of the flag will make it impossible to record or play back DTV programs unless done so on “approved” devices. Under the FCC decree as it stands presently electronics-makers will have to roll out broadcast flag-compliant devices in July.
ALA et al. not only believe such technology infringes on the fair use rights of content consumers (including the most popular use, called “time shifting” – legalese for “taping a show”), but also that the FCC has overstepped its authority by essentially requiring electronics manufacturers to design their products in a certain way. During the D.C. Circuit argument, two of the three judges seemed to be leaning in the same direction, but they’ve yet to write their decision.
Amazing how the FCC agrees with the concept that locking down content is in the public interest. A similar discussion is underway for digital radio.