Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Courts Government Media Television News

Court Says FCC Out-of-Bounds With Digital TV 481

Posted by Zonk
from the because-vcrs-are-okay dept.
USA4034 writes "A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday stated that regulators had overstepped their authority by imposing a rule designed to limit the copying of digital television programs." From the article: "The FCC rule aims to limit people from sending copies of digital television programs over the Internet. The FCC has said copyright protections are needed to help speed the adoption of digital television."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Court Says FCC Out-of-Bounds With Digital TV

Comments Filter:
  • Current (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @06:43PM (#11749841)
    Dirty hippy geek thieves 1, FCC 98737.
  • by mohaine (62567) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @06:44PM (#11749851) Homepage
    <cartman>Kick Ass</cartman>
  • by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @06:45PM (#11749855) Homepage Journal
    But it was unclear whether the judges would strike down the FCC's 2003 rule, since doubts were also raised about whether the American Library Association and other opponents had legal standing to challenge the rule in court. They'll let the FCC slide on a technicality, mark my words.
    • by dark_requiem (806308) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @06:51PM (#11749925)
      A perfect example of a major problem with our legal system. In order to challenge a blatantly unconstitutional and unjust law, I must first become its victim, because I cannot challenge a law until I have been brought up on charges based on that law. My only other recourse is to convince another victim to challenge it instead. We need a court system wherein one can challenge the constitutionality of any law without first violating it and risking prosecution. Otherwise, there is too great a risk that the victims of unjust laws will remain silent and not challenge the law, for fear that their sentence for violating it will be all the more severe for daring to speak out.
      • by general_re (8883) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @07:07PM (#11750107) Homepage
        In order to challenge a blatantly unconstitutional and unjust law, I must first become its victim, because I cannot challenge a law until I have been brought up on charges based on that law.

        False, moderation notwithstanding. The term you're looking for is "facial challenge".

        • by Anonymous Coward
          And when one Googles "facial challenge" one comes across the transcript of National Endowment for Arts vs. Finley which says, among other things:
          "A facial challenge to a legislative Act is, of course, the most difficult challenge to mount successfully, since the challenger must establish that no set of circumstances exists under which the Act would be valid."
      • by Kentsusai (837912) <kentsusai AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @07:09PM (#11750125)
        Yes you are very right.

        That is because America has a legal system based on the Common Law. Just like England and Australia.

        Countries based on a Civil Law system such as France allow people to get rulings from a court prior to them performing an act. For example, if you were in France you could go to a court and ask "Can I download this file?" You will be given a definite "Yes" or "No" and that statement made by the court will be binding.

        In order to solve this problem, Common Law jurisdictions have to develop an "Interpretations Court". What this court would do is allow people to ask whether it is legal to do what they want. Just like France.

        The problem with implementing such a system is that it may be unconstitutional. The reason why it would be unconstituional is because the users of the lower court would want a binding affirmation, one that could not be overturned by the Supreme Court. This would be unsound in the terms of the Constitution. The Supreme Court is not meant to be bound by lower courts.

      • by gmcraff (61718) <gmcraffNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @07:46PM (#11750525)
        I propose that the crime of legislative malfeasance be codified into law.

        Whereas:

        • The passage of laws, rules or regulations in direct contravention of the limitations of government codified in a written constitution violates the contract between the governed and the government;
        • The passage of laws, rules or regulations in excess of the granted authority of a government body is an offense against the liberty of every citizen;
        • The passage or implementation of offending laws, rules or regulations requires the complicity of numerous private citizens, independantly or in collusion, exercising governmental powers in excess of their granted authority;
        • The passage and/or implementation of offending laws, rules or regulations requires manhours, funds, materiel, etceteras, that would have better been lawfully employed in pursuit of the legitimate powers of government;

        ...and furthermore...

        • The government possesses no independant funds or means, but rather holds taxpayer money, and therefore cannot recompense the whole of the citizenry but by giving back their own money;
        • The government cannot provide compensation in the form of extra services to the whole of the citizenry because this would require taxpayer funding;
        • The cessation of offending activities on the part of the government in no way recompenses the citizenry for the offense committed against it;

        ...the crime of Legislative Malfeasance shall apply to

        • members of legislative bodies that vote for the offending laws, rules, or regulations in excess of the authority and powers enumerated in a constitution;
        • members of executive branches of government that have signatory or veto authority on the offending laws;
        • civil servants in managerial positions that were complicit in the implementation of the offending rules or regulations.

        Any citizen that is subject to, must comply with, or is otherwise compelled by a unconsitutional law may bring suit in any superior court. The defendents (necessarily all complicit persons, no subsets) may appeal to higher superior courts. The remedies specified if the suit is upheld are as follows:

        • County superior court or federal court: The court costs of the plaintiff shall be borne equally by the defendants.
        • State superior court or federal appeals court: The court costs of the plaintiff shall be borne equally by the defendants, and the defendants governmental positions shall be openned for re-election at the next general election.
        • Supreme Court: The court costs of the plaintiff shall be borne equally by the defendants, and the defendants positions are immediately vacated and openned for special election.

        There. That'll slow down the inexorable grind of government expansion.

    • by Zeinfeld (263942) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @06:59PM (#11750009) Homepage
      They'll let the FCC slide on a technicality, mark my words.

      There is an important issue behind standing, the idea is to avoid wasting court time and to also make sure that a party can't establish a bogus precedent by bringing a case and deliberately putting up a poor case.

      There is one set of constituents who are quite obviously directly affected by the broadcast flag issue, hardware manufacturers. They clearly have standing to bring a case since they are being directly required to implement the flag.

      I don't think it makes any sense to throw this one out on standing grounds.

      • by Auckerman (223266) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @07:21PM (#11750233)
        There is one set of constituents who are quite obviously directly affected by the broadcast flag issue, hardware manufacturers.

        Oh, and consumer rights aren't in the picture at all. I see. I feel so enlighted.
        • Consumers don't have the right to buy hardware of their choosing even when such hardware does not exist. This mandate does not directly affect consumers at all. It certainly affects them indirectly, but I don't know how much that matters to the court.

          Hardware manufacturers, on the other hand, are being explicitly prohibited from manufacturing a certain class of items, and as such are much more directly affected by the law and would therefore have much more cause to challenge it.
      • by hawk (1151) <hawk@eyry.org> on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @10:56PM (#11752000) Journal
        I am a lawayer, but this is not legal advice. If you get legal advice on slashdot, your flag bit is wrong.

        I'm not surprised at all by the ruling that the FCC overstepped, we've been seeing quite a lot of rulings recently that agencies have overstepped their authority. Broadly speaking, administrative agencies cannot make choices *about* policy, but ponly about how to *implement* the policy given by Congress (or state legislatures). To significantly deviate from what can be done with other technologies is a policy choice, not an implementation choice, and would require a charge from Congress.

        What i find odd is that the court ruled on these merits while still "concerned" about jurisdiction.

        And that's when I looked closer.

        The court didn't *say* anything today. Judges ask questions during oral arguments, some of which suggest a position. Often, the same judge will ask questions which make it sound like he holds conflicting positions. That's normal.

        That said, the statement "You crossed the line," is a bit strong even for oral arguments, and does suggest that *that judge* is strongly leaning in thhat direction.

        Still, though, the court has done *nothing* at this time.

        I would be surprised, though, if the ruling doesn't come out before July 1. With two judges apparently leaning in a direction, the usual standards for a restraining order against enforcement of the law would seem to have been met.

        As far as standing, I would expect (but certainly wouldn't bet my house on it!) that a single actual consumer as a petitioner would have standing to sue--the inability to buy devices currently on the market should be a sufficient real harm. An "assoiacion" is a much larger stretch. The courts are frequently hostile to such standing. That said, I can't tell from the slipshod reporting who the other petitioneers are. I'd be surprised if the lawyers for petitioners didn't bother to include at least one real person as a named plaintiff.

        hawk, esq.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @06:45PM (#11749859)
    it will be illegal to live in America.

    For everyone.
    • by Cryofan (194126) <cryofan.yahoo@com> on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @07:11PM (#11750141) Homepage Journal
      THey WANT us sheeple to live in America, as many of us as possible. But what they DON'T want is non-consuming sheeple. That is probably why they do whatever they can to stop universal healthcare and to make marijuana as illegal as possible. They don't want us living back in the hills, growing and smoking weed, eschewing the consumer lifestyle, and only coming down out of the hills to get medical care. To them, we are just livestock on the consumer ranch, and every rancher wants his livestock as productive as possible. /conspiracy theorist...
  • by Steve B (42864) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @06:45PM (#11749860)
    The FCC has said copyright protections are needed to help speed the adoption of digital television.

    BS. The government is determined to take back the analog spectrum and move TV to the new digital channels. All they have to do is just do it, and the entertainment industry will have to deal with life in the new reality.

    • by EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @07:04PM (#11750077) Homepage Journal
      Is it really the job of the government to rip up an existing, heavily used infrastructure and force the providers and users onto a new infrastructure?

      I don't think HDTV is worth the price. I'm not about to plunk down $1000 for a new TV $100 for a HDTV converter, when my existing TV works good enough. In the end, I would have the same basic product, but I'd have $100 or $1000 less in savings (or $100 or $1000 more in Credit Card debt). But OOOO there are more pixels on the screen now!

      Basically, if the FCC shuts down the analog TV spectrum and insists that I spend money on a new thing, I'll stop watching TV. There are millions of people like me, and somehow I don't think the broadcasters want to lose the business.
      • I think the new HDTV mandate should use same as NTSC quality/resolution and use the additional throughput for more channels, give each licensee two adjacent channels and the government takes and reallocates the massive leftovers.
      • I agree completely. Any switch from analog TV to HDTV will be like trying to force everyone to get rid of their old polluting cars and buy new environmentall friendly cars -- it will take **DECADES**

        I'm not going to buy a new TV just to watch HDTV, and I think I'm in the majority

        Analog TV broadcasts are good enough for me.

        Cable companies will find a huge sustained demand for HTDV to analog converter boxes that people will not be willing to pay extra for - they'll eventually have to give them away and c
  • by Staplerh (806722) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @06:46PM (#11749871) Homepage
    Thank goodness that this fell into the lap of a judge with some common sense. Seems like he made some pretty smart comments:

    "Selling televisions is not what the FCC is in the business of," Edwards said, siding with critics who charge the rule dictates how computers and other devices should work.

    Edwards and one of the other two judges, David Sentelle, agreed with the critics and told FCC lawyer Jacob Lewis that the law does not give the agency specific authority to dictate how electronic devices must be made.


    Good call, in my humble opinion. The FCC quite simply had no jurisdiction, they outstepped their boundaries, and they were called on it.
    • except that (Score:3, Insightful)

      by way2trivial (601132)
      what about all those rules re; radio interferance and cell phone & wifi antenna/design registrations.

      is that not
      dictate how electronic devices must be made
      I don't want the broadcast flag either.. but I want the judges to make accurate statements as well...

      • Re:except that (Score:5, Informative)

        by theLOUDroom (556455) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @07:14PM (#11750170)
        what about all those rules re; radio interferance and cell phone & wifi antenna/design registrations.

        is that not dictate how electronic devices must be made


        NO IT"S NOT.

        The FCC (generally) only has the authority to dictate the use of the electromagnetic spectrum.
        THEY DON'T TELL MANUFACTURERS HOW TO BUILD THINGS.
        They don't tell them how to build Xboxes, cellphones, etc.
        They tell they that you device must be designed in such a way that it will meet with their regulations on the EM spectrum.

        This is all they are allowed to do, BY LAW.
        If "the people" (a term I use very loosely...believe me) decide that the FCC should actually be able to tell manufactures to respect the broadcast flag, the a law must be passed saying they have the authority to do so.
        This is what the cellphone industry pushed through for scanners and thing is what the television industry will have to do:
        Buy a law.
        Isn't democracy grand?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @07:01PM (#11750039)
      Remember when a judge ruled that the Commerce Department didn't have the authority to set up the Do-Not-Call list? Within a week Congress granted them the authority. The same will happen here if we don't begin to pressure the legislature not to give the FCC the requisite power.

      In short, don't breathe a sigh of relief: instead, break out your pen and start writing.
  • by Sheetrock (152993) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @06:47PM (#11749877) Homepage Journal
    As much as I hate to play devil's advocate, the rampant adoption of PVRs has left television in a sad state. Advertisers are no longer willing to pay top dollar for airtime out of fear that their commercials will not be watched, prompting an exec to compare fast-forwarding to theft of service in a fit of hyperbole.

    Theatrics aside, the cost of quality cable or satellite programming has gone up, but the quality has been on a steady decline because of the loss of ad revenue. The FCC decision like most of their actions was made to preserve the standard of service that we've grown accustomed to, and one wonders if it will be worth recording if there is nothing at all to record.

    • by mboverload (657893) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @06:52PM (#11749933) Journal
      It doesn't require lots of money to make a good TV show. You have been brainwashed into thinking a good show has to have famous people and a huge budget.
      • by wembley (81899) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @07:01PM (#11750029) Homepage
        If that's true, why are most shows now about previously unknown twits who will sell their soul to get on TV eating llama nipples?
      • by dvdeug (5033) <dvdeug@@@email...ro> on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @07:05PM (#11750079)
        It doesn't require lots of money to make a good TV show. You have been brainwashed into thinking a good show has to have famous people and a huge budget.

        It does require a lot of money to make a good sci-fi TV show. I understand Firefly was a million dollars an episode, whereas your game shows and your reality TV shows don't even have to pay for actors or many sets. Hence the popularity of the later among TV networks.
      • It doesn't require lots of money to make a good TV show. You have been brainwashed into thinking a good show has to have famous people and a huge budget.

        If a show is good and gains popularity, it will attract more advertising dollars. If a portion of those extra dollars is not then forwarded to those responsible for the show's quality, there seems to be a bit of unfairness there. Unless some Creative Commons analog of television evolves in which copies of the shows are distributed for free to those who do

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @07:29PM (#11750335)
        GOD, this attitude pisses me off.

        Sorry. I do theater semi-professionally. Semi-professionally because I can't afford to do it full time (that's a little thing I call foreshadowing).

        There are some tremendous actors out there in theater, in film, that you've never heard of. I can name 50 people I've worked with who are more talented than all but the very upper echelon of Hollywood types. I know directors who can do REALLY amazing things, and writers who can write gripping dialogue. And none of them make it.

        Why? Because NOBODY'S F#CKING WATCHING!!!! When is the last time you went looking for an independent film, rather than seeing the latest well-marketed film from MGM, Mirimax, or Disney? Sure, there are occasional exceptions, but even those turn on one really catchy, marketable idea (frankly, the acting in Blair Witch Project was subpar--it was the premise and cinematography that was interesting).

        Yeah, on a technical level, it's not all that hard to throw something together. As I said, there are some tremendously talented people out there who will work cheap. I could probably put together something better written, better acted, and more interesting than the average sitcom on a tenth the budget. But who will watch it?

        "Oh, the networks will have the incentive to pick it up!" Yeah, right. Like I said, when was the last time YOU saw an indy film?

        Marketing is a big deal. Getting sponsorship (even cheap shows will have some costs) is a big deal. Getting airtime is a big deal. Most importantly, getting an AUDIENCE is a big deal. Noticible stars make a big difference. "From the producers of" makes a big difference. People are largely sheep--they want something familiar before they tune in. Like it, hate it, but the "free marketplace of ideas" still rewards well funded mediocrity over poorly marketed genius. Watch the Oscars this weekend if you don't agree. Titanic, you may recall, took home 11. Heck, Arrested Development is on the verge of being canceled, despite being arguably the best comedy on network television and actually being on a big network in a decent timeslot.

        The Shield on FX is a better show than NYPD Blue has been for the last 3 years, but it doesn't make nearly the same audience. And The Shield is THE success story for independent TV.

        It may be a myth that it takes huge amounts of money to make a good show. But it's assuredly NOT a myth that it requires lots of money to make a show people will watch.

        The side of the road is littered with better shows than most of the crap that's on your TV in primetime. You want to do something about it? SUPPORT THE INDEPENDENTS. Watch TV shows that TV giude doesn't put on the covers. See what's on networks that aren't top of the line ("Pilot Season" on Treo was tremendous). Do your own research on what's good instead of checking out what you see in the paper as "the thing to see".

        When you're willing to do that--when you're ACTUALLY OUT THERE supporting (with your eyeballs, your time, and your dollars) the independents, kindly refrain from kvetching about "other people" being brainwashed.
    • by The Snowman (116231) * on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @06:53PM (#11749952) Homepage

      Advertisers are no longer willing to pay top dollar for airtime out of fear that their commercials will not be watched, prompting an exec to compare fast-forwarding to theft of service in a fit of hyperbole.

      I pay over $80 a month for cable service. I get analog channels, digital channels, digital music/radio channels, and HDTV. I watch, at most, two hours a week. At $40 per hour, fuck the commercials, I should be able to do what I want with TV as long as I don't disobey copyrights. I.e. time shifting and moving it to a different devices (e.g. my computer) should be perfectly legal, FCC be damned.

      First they get upset when Janet shows an ugly boob, nevermind that 99% of the population either has boobs or gets to see them on a regular basis, then they try to make it illegal for me to use content I pay for how I choose. I think the FCC needs to go bye bye. They have long overlived their usefulness. Deregulate!

    • Try not. Do or do not, there is no try.
      -- Dr. Spock, stardate 2822-3.


      This has to be a joke, right? It was Yoda who said that, and Mr. Spock is not a Doctor. Dr. Benjamin Spock was a pediatrician whose books were popular in the last century.
    • by Dalroth (85450) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @06:54PM (#11749967) Homepage Journal
      I pay for HBO. Why? HBO doesn't suck. I also record HBO and watch it later. Why? HBO doesn't suck.

      I don't pay for Showtime. Why? Showtime sucks. :)

      If Showtime wants to get my business, the first thing they need to do is stop sucking.

      Then their problem is solved.

      Same applies for all the other networks.

      Bryan
    • Theatrics aside, the cost of quality cable or satellite programming has gone up, but the quality has been on a steady decline because of the loss of ad revenue.

      By extension, you could say that the quality has gone down because actors demand sky-high fees, which advertisers are unwilling to pay.

      Stardom is ridiculously expensive, it would seem.

    • ...the cost of quality cable or satellite programming has gone up, but the quality has been on a steady decline because of the loss of ad revenue.

      Another byproduct of this is that we continue to see more advertising per unit of content. I recently discovered that new DVDs have previews at the beginning that I cannot skip. WTF, I already paid them for their content, now I have to have commercials to watch a DVD that I own? Do I really have to rip all of my own DVDs and re-burn them without commercials?
    • by Anne Thwacks (531696) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @06:57PM (#11749996)
      This is not the case. The quality of TV has gone down because the producers have realised that people will watch any old rubbish.

      Realistically, very few people can be bothered with this. Long ago, VHS could be used to record programs and skip the ads. My SO still does this. Personally, I dont watch the box, because aside from a couple of car adverts, its not worth watching anyway.

      My teenage kids complained last weekthat daytime TV causes brain damage in their friends and relatives.

      Advertisers WILL pay if the adverts result in sales, and wont pay otherwise. If they think TiVo is the problem then they will soon wise up. "Days of our Lives" is the problem.

    • by SoCalChris (573049) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @06:58PM (#11750003) Journal
      As much as I hate to play devil's advocate, the rampant adoption of PVRs has left television in a sad state.

      PVRs have nothing to do with people watching less commercials. There are more things to do now than there were 20 years ago. TV is now competing directly with console games, computer games and the internet.

      the quality has been on a steady decline because of the loss of ad revenue

      Originally, cable tv was advertised as being commercial free. Then the providers got greedy, and started sticking ads in. So in reality, their ad revenue is far higher than what they were originally getting.

      the cost of quality cable or satellite programming has gone up

      Television has NEVER been about quality programming. It's about putting on whatever people will watch. Besides, I'd argue that the tv choices now are far better than they were 20 years ago. Now at least we've got the History Channel, Learning Channel, Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel, etc...
    • by GMFTatsujin (239569) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @07:01PM (#11750033) Homepage
      And yet, I can't bring myself to believe that if the broadcast flag were to become a mandated reality, then studios would suddenly unleash the full potential of their creative entertainment genuis on us at last. "Now at last that piracy has been defeated, we can afford to put quality television on the air once more!" -- I doubt it.

      It's in their best interests to present a facade of barely treading water all the time. That means that even if they get their way with the broadcast flag, some new evil will appear that they have to be seen to chase down.

      The BF is a DODGE, guys.
    • by MattW (97290)
      Prove it.

      TV has always been a mixed bag. Quality is not in a decline; the vast majority of TV has always been insipid.

      The "good" TV is now found on channels you pay for. HBO and Showtime are producing the cutting edge shows, which is why they tend to dominate the awards for the segment. Meanwhile, they're not showing any ads at all.

      The DVD aftermarket, meanwhile, is becoming a driving force for TV development. In the end, the amount that networks pay for shows will be lower - probably down well under the
    • All I know is that 10 years ago I paid about 12 bucks for cable. Somehow, my current bill is around $100 bucks. I've got cooler features I don't need and a lot more channels I don't want. Doesn't some of that money go towards cable programming? I don't see how it's different from people taping a show and skipping the commercials.

      Okay, I do use the PVR all of the time...and come to think of it, I'll delay watching a program for 10-20 minutes just to avoid commercials. Some of the extra money I'm spen
      • Rant (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rjelks (635588) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @07:06PM (#11750087) Homepage
        One more thing...when did we except the 10 minutes of commercials that happen before a movie?? Remember when it was just some previews and some dancing peanuts? I thought the ticket bought the experience. I can deal with subtle product placement, but how much are the 5-10 commercials worth to the advertisers?

        Back to TV: How much would you pay to remove commercials from the broadcast? Everyone will benefit from legal, commercial-free, TV downloads. /rant off
        • Re:Rant (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mailman-zero (730254)
          I rarely go to the movies anymore, and every time I go I'm reminded of why. I had tickets given to me as a gift so my Wife and I went to the movies last night. Here's what happened:
          • Arrived 25 minutes early to get our choice of seats.
          • As we were sitting down the soft background music stopped and a cartoon started playing. Nothing nefarious about this yet.
          • The short was a commercial to watch the full version on Cartoon Network and lasted five minutes.
          • I realized that we were stuck watching 20 minutes of
    • What fraction of TV watchers own a PVR? I mean real estimates based on a broad poll, not an informal anecdote of how many people you know has one vs. don't. Another issue is that maybe PVRs are showing advertisers that they don't need to spend top dollar on a prime time slot if what people are watching is from some other time.

      There are plenty of great TV shows that don't cost much to make. The problem is that people see fancy FX or well-known actors and they think ths show is good. It's like the blockb
    • by Tackhead (54550) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @07:03PM (#11750055)
      > Theatrics aside, the cost of quality cable or satellite programming has gone up, but the quality has been on a steady decline because of the loss of ad revenue. The FCC decision like most of their actions was made to preserve the standard of service that we've grown accustomed to, and one wonders if it will be worth recording if there is nothing at all to record.

      I respectfully disagree.

      The cost of delivering programming has dropped drastically, but the number of eyeballs on screens (and consequently, total advertising dollars) have remained relatively constant.

      Furthermore, the ease of delivering content has meant that there are less advertising dollars available for any given hour of content.

      The requirement that shareholders get a return on their investments has consequently to a need to reduce the cost of creating said programming.

      We saw this when we went from a 3-channel (ABC, NBC, CBS) universe to a 50-channel (+47 channels of cable) universe. Mainstream "news" programming got the axe; why have a foreign bureau and an investigative team for 2 hours a night when you can do 15 minutes of soundbites, 15 minutes of sports, 15 minutes of weather, and 15 minutes of advertorials made to look like "human interest" or "your health" stories, freeing up the second hour per night for a couple of sitcoms?

      Now that we're moving from a 50-channel universe (ABCBSNBCNNESPBSNFOXNickSciFiDiscovery and a whole bunch of other names you'll recognize) to a 500-channel universe ([thumbing through the "D"s... Discovery Homes. Discovery Queer Eye. Discovery Paranormal. Discovery Quadrupeds. Discovery Plants. Discovery Avians ... [flipflip] Disney Ages 0-2...), we have the same problem again.

      And we see the same result: Cut the cost of production, shifting to reality shows over stuff that requires expensive scriptwriters, content licenses, and/or (pen/ink/CGI) animators.

      You'll get this result regardless of whether you have a PVR or not. You cannot watch more than 24 hours of TV (that is, 8 hours of advertisements) in a day. The value of an ad placed on Disney Nostalgia Channel Males Aged 30-49 is going to be less than "Behind the Wonderful World of Disney: Annette Funicello Does Disneyland" on ABC in a 3-channel universe.)

    • As much as I hate to play devil's advocate, the rampant adoption of PVRs has left television in a sad state. Advertisers are no longer willing to pay top dollar for airtime out of fear that their commercials will not be watched

      One word: tough. More words:

      There has grown in the minds of certain groups in this country the idea that just because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with guaranteeing such profit in the futur

  • Eyes on the Prize (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Concern (819622) * on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @06:47PM (#11749883) Journal
    This article is terribly vague, and it is important to note that this is NOT a ruling but what appears to be a comment (albeit a singificant, loaded one) by a judge during arguments. Still, if I put my legal spectator hat on, it does indeed look like the broadcast flag is in jeopardy.

    Frankly I was kind of hoping they would try and implement it. The outcry would have been huge, and good for the larger cause.

    The content trust always seems to have a pistol target on their foot, but they miss (or chicken out of their "best" ideas) too often. I was kind of looking forward to watching 300 million Americans simultaneously learn that the VCR was now illegal (metaphorically speaking), and that they now record television only at the whim of the broadcaster.

    The big picture is the DMCA and the "information warfare" underpinning it. I have no idea why anybody thinks we should become an Orwellian state just so that copyright can be enforced marginally better, but then again maybe nobody does. This sometimes feels like a negotiating process. Look, we'll threaten this outrageous thing, and then this only awful thing doesn't look as bad. Or, we'll give you this minor victory (broadcast flag) and then you'll be satisfied to live in your cage.

    We are actively negotiating our culture at this point. How we think about media is up for grabs. Do we think about it as something a content creator should be allowed to control to the extent of broadcast flags enforced by federal agents? Or is it something more like it's always been. Simple, de-facto free.

    Actually, I don't care about a company that wants to try some crazy DRM scheme. I say let them try all they want. But what I care about is when the government and police step in to try to protect it or enforce it, let alone to the extent of chilling or even censoring speech. That's ridiculous. If users break the protection and it fails in the marketplace, OK, it was just a bad idea. It's absurd to use law enforcement to invent and prop up some nutty business model that shouldn't exist.
    • by sowth (748135) *

      ... I have no idea why anybody thinks we should become an Orwellian state just so that copyright can be enforced marginally better...

      The people who want the Orwellian state think they will be the leaders and therefore not only be immune to it but will also control it.

      Then again, you may be right by saying no one wants it. If you look at what the entertainment cartel does, it seems they just want a total monopoly (so all the money flows to them), not an Orwellian state...

  • by Crystalmonkey (743087) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @06:48PM (#11749898)
    In other late breaking news, the FCC has issued the following statement: "We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills." Shortly afterwards, the RIAA responded with a subpeona, claiming the FCC stole this trademark speech from a copywrighted artist. The FCC was unavailable for comment.
  • "The FCC has said copyright protections are needed to help speed the adoption of digital television."

    a more free environment of being able to copy and "mess with" digital broadcasts would allow more consumers to do more with what they have bought.

    How would restrictions such as the broadcast flag and this about digital TVs speed up adoption amongst the public?
    The only way I can see this speeding up adoption is some companies and groups (such as the MPAA) would be more readily accepting of it because the
  • But it was unclear whether the judges would strike down the FCC's 2003 rule, since doubts were also raised about whether the American Library Association and other opponents had legal standing to challenge the rule in court.

    Which means that someone...say, a consumer, aided by the EFF... may need to file a suit to follow up this one in order to stop this land grab of consumer rights to be stopped.
  • Dream day! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mboverload (657893) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @06:49PM (#11749912) Journal
    Once again the judicial branch is the ONLY branch of government with ANY respect for the common citizen. What a PATHETIC display.
  • So what.....? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mjb (8536) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @06:49PM (#11749914) Homepage
    Even if the court strikes it down entirely, it'll
    take the big media lobby about 30 seconds to kick
    their congress-lackeys in the ass and get a law
    passed to state exactly what they want/need.

    • by gubbas (651881)
      I'm sorry, I hit my 30 second skip button... what did you say?
    • Not if you vote (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bluGill (862) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @07:03PM (#11750051)

      Seriously, money only works in politics so long as you let it. When you inform yourself of the issues and then go vote you start to change that. When you go one more and talk about issues you start scaring politicians. Go one more step and join a party can get your issues on the platform and the money works for you.

      Sit on slashdot and whine about congress, corruption, and big money - you loose.

  • The perfect crime (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kawika (87069) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @06:52PM (#11749944)
    They say the FCC doesn't have the right, but they won't stop it because the "wrong people" brought the suit? AAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGHHHHH!!

    If the court would just have stopped the imposition of the July deadline we could at least have found the right people to bring this suit. As is, I'm afraid that once "broadcast flag enabled" hardware goes on sale it will be hard to change.

  • How long til the FCC requires that we all get digital implants in our eyes with Authorization codes that allow us to look at ANYTHING?
  • Is it April 1? I mean, I just woke up from a nap, but I didn't think I was asleep for that long...
  • ...is the sound of thousands of geeks cancelling their orders for broadcast-flag-free tuner cards.
  • by sterno (16320) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @07:01PM (#11750040) Homepage
    The problem here is that, though it appears the court would be favorable to shutting down the broadcast flag, the ALA may not have legal standing. So, the question is: who would?

    They are arguing that they are consumers and as consumers they are harmed. They go on the theory that this action will increase costs, etc, which I'm not sure there's a legitimate basis for.

    Really where the costs come in is in vendors who develop software/hardware that would be required to implement recognition of this flag. So you'd have to find a hardware manufacturer that was willing to fight it out. The problem is that a lot of the hardware manufacturers have ties to media, so they have a strong disincentive to mess with it.
  • by maotx (765127) <(maotx) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @07:15PM (#11750177)
    It's nice to see a Judge stand up for what he believes is the best for the people and what he believes is right without allowing the, I'm sure, intense pressure affect his decision. I wish more Judges had his perspective.

    Just a little background about the Judge who told the FCC that they "crossed the line":
    Chief Judge Harry Edwards
    Born: New York, New York-November 3, 1940
    His grandfather, a lawyer, had the most influence on him growing up and taught him several lessons for life. A speech by Marian Wright Edelman, as he describes, is fairly similar to his grandfather's lessons.

    • LESSON I: No person has a right to feel entitled to anything for which he has not worked. Frederick Douglass once said that "men may not get all they pay for in this world, but they must certainly pay for all they get." Even the most talented among us must struggle to achieve. Probably the most important thing that my grandfather ever told me was that I should never have to rely on anyone else to assess my work. What he meant was that, if I kept my standards high enough, I always would be my own most severe critic, and I would never kid myself about the quality or significance of my work.
    • LESSON II: Never work just for money. In amplifying on this point, my mother used to tell me that money alone does not give satisfaction, nor does it prove personal worth. We see this every day, for we are the richest nation on earth, yet we have among the highest rates of incarceration, drug addiction, and child poverty in the world.
    • LESSON III: Do not be afraid of taking risks or of being criticized, especially in defense of goodness or in pursuit of justice. And, as my grandfather said, never be afraid of making mistakes; it is the way you learn to do things right. Dr. Benjamin Mays, the former President of Morehouse College, said it best: "It's not failure that is a sin, it's low aim."
    • LESSON IV: In a decent society, the fellowship of human beings is more important than the fellowship of race and class and gender. This moral precept was a principal teaching of Dr. Martin Luther King.


    Pulled from here [jtbf.org]
  • by kevinmf (628527) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @07:21PM (#11750230)

    I don't know if anyone else will agree with me, but this whole requiring manufacturers to make new TVs with this copyright bit reminds me of an article I read in NY Times magazine a couple years ago.

    In North Korea, all TV / Radio communications are controlled by the government and all TVs and radios brought into the country are only allowed to receive the state channels, and not any broadcasts being made from South Korea or elsewhere. Even TVs brought form China are rewired / have their wires cut as they enter the country. Granted some people can fix that, most do not from what I understand.

    This copyright bit thing - forcing manufactures to incorporate it into their new sets -at least from an abstract point of view, reminds me of that.

    Anyone else agree?

  • by cmclean (230069) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @07:24PM (#11750263) Homepage Journal
    This morning's oral arguments (along with a bunch of other stuff) were blogged by an "informal law student" here. [luminousvoid.net] Some useful insight into what's happening behind the news reports.
  • Timing is everything (Score:3, Interesting)

    by flinxmeister (601654) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @07:31PM (#11750356) Homepage
    So let's say the FCC is allowed to enforce this rule on a technicality or whatever.

    Doesn't mean it won't come up again. And it doesn't mean that it won't eventually be struck down. And if it takes a couple years to do such a thing, all these HDTVs will be out on the market using the older technology. The 'content producers' will have shot themselves in another foot. They can't try any new tricks due to the large installed base. And by then the average consumer might be savvy enough to start demanding flag unaware televisions.

    They'll really have no choice but to remove broadcast flags altogether. Sure, it's alot of ifs, but they could have royally blundered their diabolical plan for eeevil world domination through their own over reliance on lobbying the FCC.
  • by gillrock (517577) <gillrock@yahoo.com> on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @07:35PM (#11750411)
    The FCC has said copyright protections are needed to help speed the adoption of digital television.

    Copyright protection will CERTAINLY NOT help speed adoption to DTV. Ceasing production of analog 4:3 sets and only selling DTV sets and thus lowering costs for DTV sets will though.

    Some people, myself included, just can't see spending that amount of money on a TV set that doesn't provide long term dollar investment like an analog set does. Maybe if they only manufactured the DTV sets, the consumer would get better quality goods for their hard earned dollar???

  • by purduephotog (218304) <hirsch.inorbit@com> on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @07:36PM (#11750421) Homepage Journal
    Therefore, the FCC should convince the rest of the government to subsidize the cost of a 7000$ plasma 70" TV to about 299$. Then I'll buy it, and I won't give a rats ass (gnats-ass?) about the broadcast flag.

    Yep, I can be bought.

    (There's always my precioussssssss StarGate DvDs...)
  • What a catch 22... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by doormat (63648) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @07:45PM (#11750522) Homepage Journal
    The FCC stepped over the line.

    But consumers might not be able to challenge the FCC in the court system (since they have to prove they were damaged or harmed somehow).

    Perhaps I should start a company that will make HDTV capture cards, and the broadcast flag implementation is costing me money, then I'll sue the FCC and claim they're harming my copmany.
    • by stinerman (812158)
      Actually putting a "small business owner" spin on this might be just the kick in the pants that congress needs to get off their duffs and fix this.

      I'm sure you've seen them trip over each other trying to "help small business". They don't give two shits about your fair use rights, but invoke small business and they'll start in on their fire and brimstone rhetoric. Indeed, frame the debate in terms of hurting small business instead of terms of civil rights and you might just get their attention.
  • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @07:53PM (#11750598) Homepage
    All that happened was that the oral argument was held. The court has not issued a ruling; that'll probably take months.

    Nor should anything be read into the statements of the judges, by and large. It's entirely common for judges to ask questions that make it sound as though he's already friendly to the other side. It results in hard questions that elicit strong answers from whichever side is arguing at the time. It's merely a method of holding the argument, and doesn't generally indicate anything as to what the judge thinks.
  • by IBitOBear (410965) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @09:57PM (#11751634) Homepage Journal
    This isn't a "broadcast flag" its a "prior restraint flag."

    Make it a selling point. "Now you crooks can't steal(*) from us innocent corporations!" and "Now with less confusing features!" "No more Blinking VCR clock!".

    Have a big splashy logo with "Prior Restraint -- Now we are all Safe" emblazoned on its paraphry and handcufs bound by antena wire in the center (all nicely designed by a good marketing firm).

    As long as each television set and "protected" broadcast has to have the big "Prior Restraint Flag" logo splashed on it, go ahead. See how it sells _then_.

    That would, after all, be required under the truth-in-advertising and disclosure laws.

    8-)

1 Billion dollars of budget deficit = 1 Gramm-Rudman

Working...