EFF (Donna?) Broadcast Flag Speculations

CommDaily: MPAA May Not Seek Broadcast Flag in DTV Bill (also Donna’s Copyfight post)

Also, a CRS report: Copyright Protection of Digital Television: The “Broadcast Flag”

From the report:

Possible Implications of the Broadcast Flag. While the broadcast flag is intended to “prevent the indiscriminate redistribution of [digital broadcast] content over the Internet or through similar means,” the goal of the flag was not to impede a consumer’s ability to copy or use content lawfully in the home, nor was the policy intended to “foreclose use of the Internet to send digital broadcast content where it can be adequately protected from indiscriminate redistribution.” However, current technological limitations have the potential to hinder some activities which might normally be considered “fair use” under existing copyright law. For example, a consumer who wished to record a program to watch at a later time, or at a different location (time-shifting, and space-shifting, respectively), might be prevented when otherwise approved technologies do not allow for such activities, or do not integrate well with one another, or with older, “legacy” devices. In addition, future fair or reasonable uses may be precluded by these limitations. For example, a student would be unable to email herself a copy of a project with digital video content because no current secure system exists for email transmission.

In addition, some consumer electronics and information technology groups contend that the licensing terms for approving new compliant devices are limiting, and may potentially stifle innovation, especially with regard to computer hardware. While the FCC in its Report and Order declined to establish formal guidelines for which “objective criteria should be used to evaluate new content protection and recording technology,” it has stated an intention to take up these issues in the future.

Finally, consumer rights and civil liberties groups worry about the possibility that such content protections will limit the free flow of information and hamper the First Amendment. This concern is expressed most prominently regarding news or public interest-based content, or works that have already entered the public domain. Despite suggestions raised by consumer rights groups, the FCC has so far declined to adopt language to prevent content providers from using the broadcast flag on such programs, largely because of the “practical and legal difficulties of determining which types of broadcast content merit protection from indiscriminate redistribution and which do not.”

See also Broadcast Flag at Half Mast?; Slashdot’s MPAA Giving Up on Broadcast Flag… For Now?