While looking for the IEEE Spectrum article I cited below, I came across this March, 2003 article. What do you think about this excerpt from Congress questions FCC copyright plan
Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, the panel’s chairman, said the FCC “might issue rules that impact the Copyright Act.”
Although Smith’s intellectual property subcommittee is responsible for drafting copyright laws, the Energy and Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over the FCC. Smith and other panelists expressed concern that copy-protection rules were being set by an executive branch agency instead of by the appropriate committee in Congress.
The FCC has not yet decided to go forward with a broadcast flag rule. The movie studios say that a law or FCC rule will be necessary to require that televisions sold after a certain date recognize the flag and, if it is present, limit consumers’ rights to distribute digitally transmitted shows without restrictions.
Democrat Rep. Howard Berman, whose Southern California district borders Hollywood, said he was worried that the FCC could veer in a direction that might mandate “fair use” rights that would not be favorable to the entertainment industry. “I’m opposed to the FCC attempting to…limit the exclusive rights of copyright holders in its broadcast flag rule making,” he said.
Berman said the FCC must not require that “copyright owners surrender any of their exclusive rights to consumers…I’m unaware of any precedent for a federal agency doing so. The closest precedent involves the Copyright Office, not the FCC.”
For a more sane perspective, let’s turn to that leftist publication, Business Week. From its January 3, 2003 issue we have: Will Your TV Become a Spy?: Hollywood wants every new digital set to include technology that would stop people from putting its shows on the Net. Bad idea
Simply put, the digital flag is a bad idea and a serious threat to consumer privacy. Only Hollywood’s interests would be protected. The consortium’s report doesn’t mandate protection of consumer information, only that the technology chosen should be flexible and robust. History has shown that the most powerful and adaptable copy-protection technology is also privacy-invasive.
Take Thomson Multimedia’s SmartRight technology, a copy-protection scheme that’s gaining momentum in Europe and Asia. Every time you watch a movie or transfer a video from a digital TV to a PC, it reports back to the copyright owner.
Spying on customers wouldn’t only infringe on individuals’ privacy but it could also lead to new revenue streams for Hollywood. Today, studios get paid only once when you buy the DVD of When Harry Met Sally — no matter how many times you watch it or how many friends borrow it from you. New technology would conceivably allow the studios to charge you every time you view the film, since a record is created from a technology monitoring your viewing habits from inside your home.