Background on broadcast flag:
Public Knowledge's disagreement with CDT on the broadcast flag:
August 23, 2005 12:06 PM PDT
An array of non-profit groups including the Electronic Frontier
Foundation, Public Knowledge, and the American Library Association spent
years fighting the idea of a "broadcast flag," a federal regulation that
would have outlawed many digital TV receivers and tuner cards starting
They won. In May, a federal appeals court unceremoniously tossed out the
Federal Communications Commission's regulations.
But now one non-profit advocacy group is breaking ranks with its usual
allies and handing Congress a road map to reinstating the broadcast
flag. The idea is to reduce piracy of digital TV by prohibiting the
manufacture of computer and video hardware that doesn't sport copy
The Center for Democracy and Technology on Tuesday published its
"recommendations" for Congress. Instead of telling politicians that such
a law would be unwise and that it would necessarily infringe on
Americans' fair use rights, CDT merely offers some guidelines for what
the first President Bush might have called a kindler, gentler broadcast
CDT said, for instance, in its road map: "The FCC did a number of things
right in its initial broadcast flag decisions, including being open to
approving new technologies even if they were controversial."
"We're not lockstep with EFF/PK on this, so we're not out there saying
'a broadcast flag regime inevitably sucks for consumers,'" CDT analyst
David Sohn told me in e-mail. "Aggressive opposition to any and all
possible versions of a flag rule is simply not our position."
Does that mean that CDT -- which receives about half its revenue from
corporate contributions -- is quietly cashing checks from the big media
companies that have begun to lobby Congress to reinstate the broadcast flag?
A now-deleted Web page, saved in February 2003 by Archive.org, shows
that Time Warner, Disney, and Vivendi (an owner of NBC Universal) have
been supporters. Though for the record, a CDT spokesman said Tuesday
that only Time Warner (that is, AOL) currently is providing cash.
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