Friday, May 6, 2005

Broadcast Flag's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Back in February I talked about how the D.C. Circuit Court seemed to question the power of the FCC to implement the broadcast flag.  The court seemed upset with the flag but there was a bit question whether they would find standing (the right to bring a lawsuit) for the those bringing the suit.  The broadcast flag is a piece of administrative legislation which imposes draconian rules on what can and cannot be done with television broadcasts marked with a specific flag.  If upheld, it would have required many digital tuners be removed from the market this July when it went into effect.  Today, the Court ruled, "The 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 full ruling can be found here.

In my opinion, this is a great win for consumers.  Forcing extra complication into the video pipeline benefits no one.  Allowing people to back up their television shows or transfer them to another machine is definitely an advantage.  Even better, this potentially allows the use of digital video in devices like portable media center and the like.  If we are to make the transition to digital television in the future, consumers will need to be able to take their shows with them.  I can't imagine consumers easily giving up capabilities for a higher quality signal. 


Note:  The opinions expressed in this post are my own.  They do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Microsoft Corporation.


  1. I also read a quote once, stating something like "if a law suddenly makes almost everyone a criminal, then the law is wrong". That's just what this law would've done, since everyone's current VCR, DVD, and DVR devices would be illegal.

    We already have devices like the Windows Portable Media Center that allow you to take your shows with you, as you said. In the digital age we're moving more and more to mobile computing for various things. Maybe some kind of DRM is necessary for premium channel content but cable and satellite technology has to catch up first. Most portable digital devices (it seems) are already ready.

    (The opinions expressed in this post are my own. They do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Microsoft Corporation.)

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