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FCC locks down US TV

Broadcast flag approved

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As widely expected, the FCC this week approved broadcasters' plan to enable TV transmissions to be copy controlled. Any device capable of receiving digital TV transmissions must have the feature, dubbed the 'broadcast flag' enabled by July 1 2005.

Somewhat disingenuously, the FCC added an explanation that claims "the flag does not restrict copying in any way." Which is only literally true: it's an enabling technology in the way that a bullet is an enabling technology for a gun.

Seth Schoen, the Electronic Frontier Foundation staffer who watched the evolution of the broadcast flag through Hollywood's BPDG (Broadcast Protection Discussion Group), wrote in an FAQ last year warned that Hollywood also wants to plug 'the analog hole' - enabling legislation to regulate, for example, Analog to Digital converters. So US citizens a choice between a slow strangulation and rapid asphyxiation. In time, analog broadcasts will be turned off. The window that permitted viewers two decades legitimate home taping appears to have closed.

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