Feeds

Court blasts FCC on broadcast flag

Updated Green light to hardware makers, file sharers

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

A controversial US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulation that would have required all hardware capable of receiving broadcast transmissions to recognize a so-called broadcast flag, or DRM signal, starting in July 2005, has been shot down by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Reuters reports.

The court ruled that FCC had "exceeded the scope of its delegated authority" with the regulation, promulgated in 2003. FCC "has no authority to regulate consumer electronic devices that can be used for receipt of wire or radio communication when those devices are not engaged in the process of radio or wire transmission," the three-judge panel concluded.

FCC's pretext for the regulation has been that broadcast DRM will accelerate the spread of digital TV by reassuring the media behemoths that their content can't be easily pirated. Hollywood has been a good deal more up-front about things, fretting openly that digital broadcasts of TV and movies will inevitably lead to mass piracy via the internet.

The court challenge was led by the American Library Association (ALA), chiefly on grounds that the broadcast flag would inhibit fair use for library, other nonprofit, and educational purposes. A good deal of broadcast material is used in distance learning, for example, and this could be made unavailable by provisions in the DMCA, a concern that the court found persuasive, according to ALA Legislative Counsel Miriam Nisbet.

Of course, this victory only moves the battle to Capitol Hill, where the entertainment cartels have historically enjoyed near invincibility. The simplest and most direct approach would be to propose legislation giving FCC the authority to regulate broadcast receivers, and this is to be expected fairly soon. But whether it will be a slam-dunk is anyone's guess. "People are a good deal better educated about this than they were a few years ago," ALA's Nisbet observes.

And less indifferent, we hope. ®

Update Although the case is titled American Library Association et al v. Federal Communications Commission et al, several petitioners collaborated in the suit. The parties were Public Knowledge, the Association of Research Libraries, the American Association of Law Libraries, the Medical Library Association, the Special Libraries Association, the Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). ALA, which we identified above as the organizer, is listed first in court documents because of its alphabetical rank. The Register regrets the oversight.

Related link

The ruling

Related stories

FCC 'crosses the line' with broadcast flag - court
FCC Chairman Michael Powell resigns
Feds OK DVD+R/RW DRM tech
FCC locks down US TV

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Forget silly privacy worries - help biometrics firms make MILLIONS
Beancounter reckons dabs-scanning tech is the next big moneypit
Microsoft's Office Delve wants work to be more like being on Facebook
Office Graph, social features for Office 365 going public
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.