Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Courts Government Media Patents Privacy Television News Politics Technology

FCC Broadcast Flag Struck Down 416

An anonymous reader writes "CNet is reporting that the courts have struck down the FCC's broadcast flag requirement! 'In a stunning victory for hardware makers and television buffs, a federal appeals court has tossed out government rules that would have outlawed many digital TV receivers and tuner cards starting July 1.'" The EFF has details on the flag, the official ruling is online for examination, and commentary is available from BoingBoing and Ars Technica.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

FCC Broadcast Flag Struck Down

Comments Filter:
  • by nate nice ( 672391 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:57AM (#12452943) Journal
    We really need to do something about them as they are obviously out of control. Don't they know who pays for their appointers election?!
    • I'm sure that the parent poster meant his comments to be tongue-in-cheek.

      This is the problem I have with the FCC. They have no constitutional authority, but the executive branch has usurped legislational authority through agencies like the FCC, EPA, and other cabinet-level authorities.

      The courts are right in saying that the FCC has no right to enforce the broadcast flag. But, IMHO, the FCC has overstepped it's bounds imposing a lot of authority over private industry, and consumer choice.

      At some point
      • by Detritus ( 11846 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:30PM (#12453539) Homepage
        The FCC is an independent agency. It does not take orders from the executive branch. Its powers are delegated to it by Congress through the Communications Act of 1934.
        • by rjh ( 40933 ) <rjh@sixdemonbag.org> on Friday May 06, 2005 @01:14PM (#12454269)
          Check the United States Constitution, wherein all executive power is vested in the President. Like it or not, all executive power is vested in the Oval Office. If the president wasn't ultimately responsible for the actions of the FCC, the FCC would have no authority whatsoever.

          You could just as easily say that the powers of the United States Treasury are delegated to it by the Treasury Act. That doesn't mean the Secret Service is a Congressional authority.
        • The FCC is an independent agency. It does not take orders from the executive branch. Its powers are delegated to it by Congress through the Communications Act of 1934.

          Hahahahahaha!

          What country do you live in?

          Who appoints the head of the FCC?
          The Executive Branch.

          So who really has influence over the appointee?
          Big Medi..um, uh, the Executive Branch.

        • Oh, yeah. Right!

          Just like the FDA is an independent agency. The last time I checked, it was the Executive Branch that selected appointees to the management positions. And considering the current "rubber stamp" state of the Congress, the only truly "independent" division of government is the Judicial Branch, and that is quickly eroding into yet another "political plum" for the current regime in power.

          At the current rate of Executive Branch dominance over all branches of the US government, by the time 200
      • by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:37PM (#12453667) Homepage
        The FCC has legal authority, but it doesn't need constitutional authority. It was created by an act of Congress, not by executive fiat. There are all sorts of entities in the government that aren't mentioned in the constitution but are allowed to set policy and enforce penalties if it is disobeyed.

        Remember that the courts can only affect issues that are brought to their attention. If you think the FCC has overstepped its authority in other areas, file more lawsuits.
      • At some point congress needs to step up and take it's authority back from both the executive AND judicial branches. I could rant on, but I've probably bored you to death already.

        How? In order to force through a law you need a 2/3 majority. No matter how future elections swing, no Senator or Representative is going to commit career suicide by hamstringing his party.

        Lets look at the two situtions where it's most likely to even make it to the floor for a vote.

        One, Democrat president with a Republican Congr
    • by ShaniaTwain ( 197446 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:10PM (#12453183) Homepage
      ..at least now they can get back to the important work of protecting the people from dangerous exposure to nipples.
    • by technoCon ( 18339 )
      Elected legislators like to avoid responsibility for hard decisions.

      In addition to the broadcast flag, politicians would like to avoid responsibility for voting for or against abortion or gay marriage, so they hide in the weeds and let unelected judges or bureaucrats take the heat.

      Laws are often written in a vague enough way that responsibility for unpopular consequences can be dumped onto the bureaucrasy and sorted out by the judiciary.

      If elected officials abdicate their responsibility, a tyranny of the
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:58AM (#12452949)
    They just set it to 0.
  • Yeah! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mrseigen ( 518390 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:58AM (#12452960) Homepage Journal
    It's about time the courts are on our side for something like this. Now if they can just do something about all the other idiots wanting DRM everywhere...
    • Yes and No. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Qwerpafw ( 315600 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:11PM (#12453217) Homepage
      The courts struck down the broadcast flag because the FCC was getting too big for their britches. They got all up in there, and the Judge was like "no you didn't." Judges do that a lot--watch Judge Mathis to see what I mean.

      The courts didn't say that the broadcast flag was illegal because it interfered with fair use rights. While the effects of this ruling are to encourage consumer rights, that hardly seems to be the intent of the judgement. The fact is, the FCC was never supposed to make these kinds of rules--and someone finally called their bluff.
      • Re:Yes and No. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by badasscat ( 563442 ) <basscadet75@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:15PM (#12453279)
        The courts didn't say that the broadcast flag was illegal because it interfered with fair use rights.

        And this is important because what the court in essence did was throw the issue back to Congress - where copyright issues constitutionally belong. If you think the broadcast flag is dead, think again - all the court said was "this is unenforceable as an FCC rule - only Congress can make such a rule."

        So you can bet the MPAA is on the horn right about now to every senator and representative they've ever donated money to trying to call in a favor. And you can bet they'll get that favor, probably sooner rather than later. There are still almost two months before that July 1 deadline - it is not just possible, but probable that the broadcast flag will still take effect on that date, this time enacted by congress and signed into law by Bush himself.
        • Re:Yes and No. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by bnenning ( 58349 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:32PM (#12453572)
          So you can bet the MPAA is on the horn right about now to every senator and representative they've ever donated money to trying to call in a favor. And you can bet they'll get that favor, probably sooner rather than later.

          I'm not so sure about that. Certainly we should continue to be vigilant, but FCC commissioners don't have to explain to voters why they made it illegal to record Survivor.
  • Awesome! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stlhawkeye ( 868951 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:58AM (#12452962) Homepage Journal
    This is great news. I don't doubt that illegal distribution of copyrighted materials is a problem that costs content-owners money, but this flag is not the solution. It's going to mostly penalize and restrict the rights of legitimate and honest viewers who don't do anything criminal with their recordings, they just re-watch them.

    The onus is on the industry to find a solution within technology and capitalism, not within politics and law.

    • Re:Awesome! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by awhelan ( 781773 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:09PM (#12453175) Homepage
      Yes, and in the name of protecting the artists, the whole process of the broadcast flag has cost our country millions or wasted dollars. There are all the hardware companies that... since it's May, must have already spent millions in R&D getting the flag working. Not to mention the people buying HDTV's early, or stocking up on un-DRM'd TV tuner cards before the July 1st deadline.

      I honestly believe the FCC stopped fighting for the broadcast flag because of all the negative publicity it would have caused. Anybody who knew what it is would just buy a tuner card early and not be affected by it. Everybody else would find out when they tried to record things and couldn't... making them furious. Overall this was a PR nightmare, and was only going to get worse.
    • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by drunkennewfiemidget ( 712572 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:12PM (#12453228) Homepage

      ...It's going to mostly penalize and restrict the rights of legitimate and honest viewers ...

      But hasn't that always been the issue with such nonsense laws?

      • They make it illegal to redistribute DeCSS code so people can't copy DVDs, when most people being hurt by it are the opensource people who just want to watch their damned DVDs in Linux.
      • They've suggested charging small amounts of money per e-mail to curb spammers, when the people most hurt by it will be those of us who e-mail a lot for legitimate, useful reasons.
      • They run those obnoxious commercials before movies at the theatres telling us why pirating is bad, and wasting our time, despite the people guilty of these acts are the ones at home watching the movies on their computers, not the ones who paid $11 so they can sit through the movie.

      One bad apple spoils the bunch.
      Either that, or the people passing these laws desperately need to give their heads a shake.

      At last, a win for you poor Americans.

  • by flanksteak ( 69032 ) * on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:58AM (#12452965) Homepage
    So it's nice that this lost, but it lost because the court said the FCC has no jurisdiction. This wasn't a victory for fair use, nor is it the end of the discussion. The MPAA will return to hammering Congress to either make the rule itself or grant the FCC the authority to do so (which the article clearly states at the end). This just gives us more time to get the word out about why the flag is a bad idea.
    • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:07PM (#12453138) Homepage
      Good to see skepticism, but you missed what is significant here.

      The FCC has been extending its power significantly, with the broadcast flag being just a small piece of that. The courts telling the FCC that they do not have this power is huge. It eliminates the possibility of the FCC taking away citizen's rights without the democratic process being involved. At least Congress persons are answerable to their constituents. The FCC is not. (This is the whole problem with Congress creating agencies. It's a way to extend government power without making it answerable to the other branches.)

      Now is the time to start sending positive letters to justices and congress persons to prevent Congress from trying to enact the broadcast flag themselves.
    • Maybe not (Score:3, Interesting)

      by overshoot ( 39700 )
      Keep in mind that all devices now in manufacturing are BF-compliant. The MPAA has what it wants, and pressuring Congress for more may not be a good ROI proposition.

      When there weren't anything but non-BF devices on the market, the MPAA couldn't use the DMCA against the manufacturers. Now that everything is BF-compliant any device that isn't can easily be painted as a circumvention device under the DMCA and the manufacturer sued out of existence.

      • Re:Maybe not (Score:3, Informative)

        by mjh ( 57755 )
        Keep in mind that all devices now in manufacturing are BF-compliant.
        Not all devices. [pchdtv.com]
      • Re:Maybe not (Score:3, Informative)

        by swv3752 ( 187722 )
        My understanding is that it is easy to implement but costs to add BF detection. I am not aware of any computer tuners that implement it. Most were taking a wait and see before retooling thier plants. Even Major OEM's such as Sony, was taking a wait and see approach.
    • by hawk ( 1151 ) <hawk@eyry.org> on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:17PM (#12453305) Journal
      I am a lawyer, but this is not legal advice. If you get your legal advice on slashdot, you're likely to end up as a "guest" of the government.

      This is the stronger of the two main ways that the court could have struck down the ruling. Often, it's the *form* of the rule, in paraticular the way the administrative agency chose to make the rule, that gets struck down. This leaves the agency free to pass the same rule through the proper process. (Similar to the way the appellate court struck down the judge's behavior in the microsoft case--the governmet could have sought another order splitting microsoft.)

      In this case, it's the *substance* of the rule that was stricken. The FCC *cannot* regulate in this area, and cannot try again.

      However, this didn't adress the question of whether or not Congress could grant the power to regulate in such an area, nor whether Congress could pass such a law itself.

      hawk, esq.
    • First, I believe you mean authority, not jurisdiction.

      Second, you're right that industry will try to get Congress to change the law.

      But this is still a great decision, because it means we still have enforceable limitations on the authority of agencies. It means that the courts are not going to allow them to overstep their authority as delegated by Congress.

      This was not so clear in the past (until the 70's or so). Under Chevron, courts give deference in most cases to agencies' interpretations of their o
  • by hirschma ( 187820 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:58AM (#12452966)
    Since the entire American government is owned by corporate interests, it'll take about 5 minutes for this to get passed by Congress.

    I'd hope that the consumer electronics lobby is stronger than the MPAA, but I fear it isn't so.

    jh
    • by stlhawkeye ( 868951 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:01PM (#12453017) Homepage Journal
      Since the entire American government is owned by corporate interests, it'll take about 5 minutes for this to get passed by Congress.

      This is exactly what has caused me to abandon the Republican party. The Republicans used to be the party of small business and the Democrats were the party of big business. That's not the case and it's getting to be less and less the case. The Republicans are firmly in the pockets of big business and the Democrats are ... just insane.

      I'd hope that the consumer electronics lobby is stronger than the MPAA, but I fear it isn't so.

      Part of the consumer electronics industry is also part of the content management industry. Sony's subsidiaries are both members of the RIAA and other subsidiaries produce consumer electronics. O, the tangled we weave!

      • Yeah same here. The neo-republican party is about as republican as new coke is coke. Maybe it's time America went to a 3 party system of Democrats, Republicans and Ex-Republicans...
        • Yeah same here. The neo-republican party is about as republican as new coke is coke. Maybe it's time America went to a 3 party system of Democrats, Republicans and Ex-Republicans...

          I'm in. A party that *actually* stands for limited government and individual freedom and is less insane than the LP could do quite well.
      • How were the democrats the party of big business? Weren't they the party of labor unions?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The reason the FCC tried to regulate this is probably because Congress *didn't* want to act. No Congressperson wants to be on record as voting to take away TV.

      We shall see though.
      • No Congressperson wants to be on record as voting to take away TV.

        That's why they'll call it the Protection of Open and Free Television Act or some other Orwellian name and attach it to some other feel-good or must-pass legislation.
        • That's why they'll call it the Protection of Open and Free Television Act or some other Orwellian name and attach it to some other feel-good or must-pass legislation.

          Close. But as noted by another poster, it has to be a (supposedly) clever acronym (and/or terrorism-related name), too. Maybe they'll call it the:

          Beneficial
          Reuse
          Of
          Airwaves/
          Defending
          Content to
          Assure
          Secure
          Television

          Act.

    • by SacredNaCl ( 545593 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:09PM (#12453170) Journal
      The difference is, now everyone is mobilized & knows about it. Which is far more profitable for congressmen as each of the lobbyist can contribute money under the dual threats of "protect my business model" and "protect my business model" from both sides. Works out well if you are a senator.

      The fact that this might piss off the handful of voters who actually pay attention probably doesn't even enter into the equasion for most of them, sad to say.

      I just watched my own state legislature give away the farm to SBC under a similar model. He who paid the most won, only 3 votes against. It's not like the bribes aren't mostly out in the open, it's just no one pays enough attention for it to matter to them.

    • I'd hope that the consumer electronics lobby is stronger than the MPAA, but I fear it isn't so.

      They don't care. Now that they've spent the money to implement it, it's all the same to them. Regardless of what we'd like to think, their sales are going to be the same either way.

    • Since the entire American government is owned by corporate interests, it'll take about 5 minutes for this to get passed by Congress.

      Well when you stop taking the mushrooms for a little while, try reading the article where it talks abotu how the whole COMPUTER INDUSTRY and CONSUMER ELECTRONICS INDUSTRY does not want it!

      Is THAT a big enough corperate interest for you?
  • by dlZ ( 798734 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:58AM (#12452967) Journal
    Now what am I supposed to do with the warehouse of capture cards I bought to resell after this passed!?
  • first? (Score:3, Funny)

    by jakethejuggalo ( 718693 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:59AM (#12452981)
    woohoo! that means more HDTV quality stargate episodes!
  • by The Importance of ( 529734 ) * on Friday May 06, 2005 @11:59AM (#12452982) Homepage
    I've put together a collection of links as well as pulling out various key elements of the case: Victory in Broadcast Flag Case! FCC Has No Authority Says Court [corante.com]
  • It's not over yet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:00PM (#12452988) Homepage
    And it never will be until the slimeballs behind this (movie industry) get what they want. They are willing to pay more and wield more influence than the electronics makers. Watch for some legislation to be bought soon.
    • by illumin8 ( 148082 )
      And it never will be until the slimeballs behind this (movie industry) get what they want. They are willing to pay more and wield more influence than the electronics makers. Watch for some legislation to be bought soon.

      Let's be a little bit realistic about this. The movie industry brings in ~$9 billion a year in revenue. The consumer electronics industry brings in over $100 billion in revenue a year. For now, the consumer electronics industry has been like a sleeping giant. I think what happened here
  • by SiliconEntity ( 448450 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:02PM (#12453020)
    Wow, that's great news, but isn't it coming a little late in the timeline? If sets on sale in July were supposed to have BF support, you'd think that they would already be being manufactured that way. The TV makers would have had to already have designed BF circuitry into their sets and be producing them with that capability, if all the sets in the stores by July were supposed to work that way, as required by the law.

    I wonder if there will be a way to disable BF circuitry in sets which get sold that already have it built in? Or will the makers even tell people that they are buying sets that are BF enabled? Maybe some people will buy them without even knowing it.
    • Wow, that's great news, but isn't it coming a little late in the timeline? If sets on sale in July were supposed to have BF support, you'd think that they would already be being manufactured that way.

      Not necessarily, because a lot of HDTV's aren't even really TV's at all - they're monitors. It's up to you to decide what tuner to use, be it a PC tuner or a set-top box.

      No PC tuner in existence right now respects the broadcast flag, and the way the flag is implemented, it is not something that can just be "turned on" in new drivers or firmware. It requires another chip on the board. So if you buy a piece of hardware that does not respect the BF, it will never respect the BF, and because tuners are relatively cheap to make and ship, tuner manufacturers were all sitting on the sidelines waiting this out and producing non-BF hardware in the meantime. (No doubt they had updated designs in the wings, but there was no reason to produce them yet.)

      It's also worth noting that, AFAIK, equipment couldn't be made after July 1 without respecting the broadcast flag. So manufacturers could have, if they wanted, made sets and tuners right up to June 31 that did not respect it, and then switched over on July 1.
  • This is really great (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Novanix ( 656269 ) * on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:02PM (#12453024) Homepage
    This is fantastic news for products like http://www.pchdtv.com/ [pchdtv.com] which would have all been destroyed by this. Means a bright future for custom pvrs no less and creativity. When you start limiting what consumers can do with information you start limiting that which is often what leads to greatness.
  • by jamienk ( 62492 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:02PM (#12453027)
    p2p distribution of video over the Internet is the future. The airwaves are being wasted on obsolete technology. We should figure out what the TV spectrum would best be used for (wireless Internet? Cell Phones?) and then dismantle the whole shebang. Would this exceed the FCC's authority? Maybe. But it would be smart. The "broadcast flag" was dumb.
    • by Dizzle ( 781717 )
      Bad idea. That requires everyone to have the internet, even if it's not available in your area. Imagine trying to download shows over phone line instead of just over the air TV? Sounds a little farfetched. Don't get me wrong, I'd rather p2p the shows ANY day (no commercials, watch it when i want, etc) but there is a role for over the air TV.
      • by Hatta ( 162192 )
        Bad idea. That requires everyone to have the internet

        So make sure everyone who wants high speed internet access can get it. This will not only allow us to free up spectrum, but will have many other ancillary benefits. While it smacks of media hype, the "digital divide" is a real problem, and maybe we need a good public works program.
  • by overshoot ( 39700 )
    By now, all of the designs have been changed and all of the product in the pipeline has been switched over. Even if the manufacturers are legally allowed to do so, they won't take the expense of switching back.

    What's more, they won't take the risk. Now that the BC has become a "standard" feature, building anything without it is almost certain to be attacked by the MPAA under the DMCA.

    If you have a BC-free tuner card, treasure it. They ain't making no more, ever again.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      While I think it is likely that the set top box and tv manufacturers will not change back after having to redesign everything, I would not be at all surprised to see more tuner cards. This law meant that companies making those cards had to get rid of a product line that could of potentially made quite a bit of money. The companies had no money invested in making BF compliant cards because there was no way any would be approved. Now all they have to do is start manufacturing the cards again and they haven
    • There is a massive amount of interest in Broadcast Flag-free equipment. The market loves a vacuum, so even if we don't see equipment from major producers, somebody will manufacture or continue to manufacture this type of equipment. It just may be an outfit like Elgato rather than a Motorola.
  • Next ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cOdEgUru ( 181536 ) * on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:04PM (#12453064) Homepage Journal
    FCC had no business in mandating the broadcast flag at the behest of MPAA and its cronies. This throws the claim out the window, for now, to be picked up by lobbyists for the next run with the congress. I would not be surprised if it aint a breeze convincing the majority of clueless that this helps innovation and protects copyrights.

    FCC had no right to assist the content creators, pushing them on to the HD realm. The market and the millions of tv viewers should instead spearhead that, and creators who turn a deaf ear will find out finicky eyeballs prefer HD over SD as HD compatible TV's get ever cheaper and between equally bad scripted shows, they pick the better looking one.

    Wonder what the Southpark creators would do with HD :). As long as I can still make out the characters, I would continue watching it..bad feed or no feed.
  • by keraneuology ( 760918 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:05PM (#12453077) Journal
    What are the odds that Congress which is openly in bed with RIAA and MPAA will wait longer than a few months to tack on a rider to some wildly popular (or arcane and unreadable) piece of legislation allowing this sort of restriction to proceed as planned?

    So long as the following tweaks to the system are not implemented Congress will be able to ignore the wishes of the people and grant any and all favors to their lobbyists.

    No representative or senator should ever be allowed to vote on any piece of legislation which they personally have not read

    Any vote on anything that involves de facto laws, rules, regulations or monetary impact of any kind must be by roll call vote

    The name of the legislator who introduced or modified each line of text in each and every bill must be fully disclosed

    The 17th amendment must be repealed

  • by bigtallmofo ( 695287 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:05PM (#12453079)
    I think that broadcast flags are actually a good idea. Let's start with a "crap flag" that refuses to let me watch shows that are crap.

  • by Bullfish ( 858648 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:05PM (#12453080)
    A judicial ruling that makes sense. I'm scared.
  • If you strike it down, it will only become more powerful than you can possibly imagine!
  • There go those Activist Judges(tm) again! I'm sure Congress will step in to fix this technicality.
  • Some remarks. (Score:5, Informative)

    by pavon ( 30274 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:06PM (#12453112)
    This was originally posted [slashdot.org] on slashdot when the case started, and it is excellent news to hear that the FCC regulation was indeed overruled. It is important to note that this case was about whether the FCC had the jurisdiction to impose such regulations, not on the legality of the regulations themselves. If congress decided to pass a law requiring the broadcast flag, it would probably stand.

    As an aside the American Library Association (ALA) has been very active [ala.org] in working to protect our fair-use rights and trying to make copyright law more balanced, even though they might not be as well known here as the EFF and ACLU are. I would highly encourage anyone who cares about these things to help support them [ala.org].

  • "You can't regulate washing machines. You can't rule the world."

    -Judge David Sentelle
  • ... won't have nobody messin' with his TV.

    Seriously, no congressman in his right mind is going to touch legislation that impinges on the general public's right to an unencumbered TV-experience.

    DMCA and PATRIOT are no problem, but take away an American's freedom to watch, record and illegally sell for profit and there's going to be trouble. We're talking mobs in the streets here, complete with lynchings and excessive-firing-of-rifles-in-the-air.
    • Re:Joe Sixpack ... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by stinerman ( 812158 )
      You were modded funny, but I have a feeling you might be right.

      Many, many people still use VCRs (gasp!) to record their favorite shows. If you take away their right to record these shows , they may very well start rioting in the streets.
  • by bersl2 ( 689221 )
    Hey, the war is never over, but winning feels good every once in a while :)

    Though, knowing our luck, it's probably just a really late April Fool's prank.
  • by blueZhift ( 652272 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:11PM (#12453203) Homepage Journal
    Recent events seem to indicate that the U.S. is moving closer and closer to some kind of state mandated censorship. A growing number of states are trying to pass legislation that would outlaw the sale of "violent" video games to minors. So far these laws have been struck down on constitutional grounds, but I don't believe that will be the final word on the matter. Anyway, once video games are censored or otherwise restricted, it is just a short hop to doing the same thing for movies, music and television.

    So far the entertainment industry has strongly opposed anything that looks like censorship. But they are also so vigorously pursuing stronger copyright restrictions that they may be willing to deal. If they believe they can make more money by giving up creative freedom in exchange for stronger copyright laws, I believe they'll do it in a heartbeat. To get the broadcast flag now, they'll have to deal with Congress.
  • There goes my get-rich-quick scheme:

    1 - Buy as many non-compliant tuner cards as possible before June 30.

    2 - Start selling said cards on ebay on July 2.

    3 - Profit!!!

    Guess it's back to "natural enhancement" spamming for me. (kidding - please don't firebomb my house!)

  • Public Knowledge [publicknowledge.org] has coverage of the case here [publicknowledge.org] , as well.

  • by zulux ( 112259 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:13PM (#12453246) Homepage Journal


    No more donating to the ACLU for me - it's all EFF from now on.

    The ACLU was needed in the age of McCarthy, but the work of the EFF seems more beneficial to me right now - in the short as well as the long term.

    • by Little Pink Bunny ( 881651 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @01:16PM (#12454306)
      I appreciate the fact that we now have enough powerful rights organizations that you can reasonably hand-select the ones that defend the rights most important to you. The EFF covers the free speech cases that I support, and the NRA fights for the amendment that the ACLU hasn't heard of. I'm a proud member of both, and am reasonably sure that neither will take positions that I personally oppose.

      I suppose the ACLU had its place back in the day, but I much prefer the Unix-style "each tool does one thing" approach of the EFF and NRA.

    • The EFF is fighting battles now that will affect our daily lives for years to come on a very fundamental level, I really think the EFF is a far better organization to support now than just about any other human rights org.
  • Appeals Court (Score:2, Informative)

    This is an amazing victory. But let's remember that this is only an Appeals court. The TV cartel will take this all the way to the Supreme Court if they can. Let's hope that the highest court in the land is on our side.
  • Go GNU Radio! (Score:5, Informative)

    by YetAnotherName ( 168064 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:15PM (#12453265) Homepage
    Because the broadcast flag was so technically feeble, it required "robustness rules" to actually enforce it. In other words, equipment manufactures would have to "weld shut" their devices to prevent user tampering. This would've spelt disaster for GNU Radio [gnu.org], which lets you define an ATSC HDTV receiver in software.

    As open source, it fails the robustness rules. Heck, as open source, it even encourages "user tampering." With today's victory the project has some hope, and we can see some future innovations exploiting it.
  • What's the big deal (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:20PM (#12453365)
    all they did was rule the FCC didn't have the authority. It takes 1 act of congress to give them that authority. The only real hope here is this'll delay things long enough that flag free hardware will become the standard, and people'll start to expect it. Then again, if congress forces the flag down everyone's throats, what good is a defacto standard?

    If your expecting a public outcry, don't. The content providers will just wait to start flagging their shows until flagged hardware is everwhere and everything. People won't know/care until it's too late.
  • by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:36PM (#12453653) Homepage Journal
    CNet is reporting that the courts have struck down the FCC's broadcast flag requirement!
    You make it sound like there's been a final determination that we just can't have a broadcast flag. Not correct. A particular appeals court is saying that the FCC currently doesn't have the authority to impose the broadcast flag. That court could be overruled. Or Congress could give the FCC the authority. Given the politics of our current Congress, that's very likely.

    We have stories about the Federal legal decisions almost every day. Yet Slashdotters (and worse, the Slashdot editors) manage to read all these stories without learning anything about how the courts work. Pretty pathetic.

  • by gremlins ( 588904 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:39PM (#12453722)
    Well I am happy there isn't a broadcasting flag anymore but what about firewire ports on cable boxes?

    If you look at the ruling "FCC Eases Digital TV Transition for Consumers."(PDF) [fcc.gov] it states that all digital cable boxes must have a firewire port. This port is used to control the box and record from it. Now this has been in effect for a while now, although it takes alot of effort and showing your cable company this [fcc.gov] pdf article to get them to give you a box that has a firewire port and that port is enabled. My concern is the ruling seems to also removes the FCC's power in this area as well.

    And the worst part is MythTV [mythtv.org] just started supporting recording over firewire...
    • Broadcast network TV channels should always be available unencrypted over firewire, but the problem is a lot of cable companies do use 5C encryption on most channels, especially premium channels. I'm lucky to be on a cable system that still runs all channels unencrypted. I'm archiving my favorite HBO/Showtime HD shows to 720p Xvid, but don't expect to be able to do it for very much longer. :( I am at least glad to know that I'll always be able to archive network TV. I currently archive 24 and some of th
  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland.yahoo@com> on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:43PM (#12453792) Homepage Journal
    as citizens. We have more power with congress then the FCC.

    AS always write, fax, email. Maintaining freedom takes regular work, few hours per week.
  • warm and fuzzy ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by for_usenet ( 550217 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @12:45PM (#12453830)

    That's how I feel after donating to the EEF last year and this happening now. Looks like I'll be sending them another cheque this year ;-)

    Good work folks! Now, let's make sure this never sees the light of day in any of the law-making branches of the legislature!
  • by crovira ( 10242 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @01:01PM (#12454068) Homepage
    In effect the xxAAs are trying to rope the FCC into making all broadcasting a synchonous pay-for-view service without any recourse for pay-per-view-later (that would kill ALL recording, nevermind TIVO)

    They are essentially trying to rewind the calendar to before they xxAAs lost the 'fair use' trials against those pesky player pianos. (And radio and TV and restaurant juke boxes and sheet music.)

    They are against anything that makes a noise and they aren't getting paid. And fair use doesn't enter into their vocabulaty.
  • Joe Wal-mart (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kaenneth ( 82978 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @02:07PM (#12455083) Homepage Journal
    I believe the Broadcast flag would have killed HDTV adoption in the US; If my brother-in-law couldn't record his NASCAR to watch after work, what good would HDTV do him?

    HDTV equipment couldn't be made in the US for export, because no other country would want broadcast flag equipped products, ensuring the ongoing death of manufacturing in America.

    It would raise the cost of, and decrease the desirability of better HDTV, increasing the time until we can turn off the old signals.

    The airwaves belong to the Public, and private interests should not be allowed to run rampant over the limited useful spectrum, all of the FCC's decisions should have a statement explaining exactly how it is expected to benifit the public, with respect to the spectrum used; just as with the EPA and Environmental Impact statements.

    private encrypted tranmissions have a place (cell phones, military, wireless networking), and it other areas a balance can be struck (TV networks using satillites to send shows to affiliates should be protected) but government angencies should not profit from, or pander to business interests. (except from taxing their profits)

What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away.

Working...