Feeds

FCC 'crosses the line' with broadcast flag - court

Overreaches with DRM order, judge says

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) overstepped its authority by requiring devices capable of receiving digital TV broadcasts to recognize data called a 'broadcast flag' that can prevent copying, a federal judge has said.

US Circuit Judge Harry Edwards told the FCC that it had "crossed the line" when it required DRM technology to be included in all DTV devices on sale in the USA from 1 July. This would include TVs, set top boxes, PC tuner cards, VCRs, DVD players, and similar devices.

The FCC argued that its ancillary powers authorize it to regulate the reception of broadcasts, not just their transmission. While Congress did not authorize the Commission to regulate the proper designs of the devices, it also didn't expressly forbid it, which FCC takes as a license to issue specifications.

"Ancillary does not mean you get to rule the world," judge Edwards observed.

Judge David Sentelle wondered if FCC thought it could regulate washing machines, since Congress didn't expressly forbid that, either.

In response to FCC whining that without adequate DRM technology, digital broadcasts would be limited, Judge Sentelle noted that, while this might be regrettable, it is not the FCC's responsibility. "It's going to have less content if it's not protected, but Congress didn't direct that you maximize content," he said.

Unfortunately, there is a legal detail here that might moot the whole issue. Judge Sentelle noted that the plaintiffs, largely consumer and library groups, might not have standing to make a complaint against FCC unless they can show how the regulation causes them specific harm.

So it is entirely possible that the complaint will be shut down on a technicality. On the other hand, if it is not, the broadcast industry has additional appeals to mount, and, if finally thwarted in the courts, can always resort to lobbying Congress for the legislation it wants. Thus there is every possibility that American consumers will be stuck with broadcast flag-compliant devices in the near future.

Those thinking of buying DTV-related gear might want to make their purchases sooner rather than later, in hopes that some non-compliant devices are still available. ®

Related stories

FCC Chairman Michael Powell resigns
Feds OK DVD+R/RW DRM tech
FCC locks down US TV

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’
Catapult me a Mojito, I feel an Digital Innovation coming on
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
EU probes Google’s Android omerta again: Talk now, or else
Spill those Android secrets, or we’ll fine you
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.