Appellate Court Strikes FCC’s Anti-Piracy Rules
May 6, 2005 10:57 a.m.
A federal appellate court Friday invalidated federal regulations that require makers of TV sets to equip them with technology that prevents digital broadcast signals from being redistributed.
Ruling in a case brought by the American Library Association, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said the Federal Communications Commission had overstepped its authority in trying to regulate how consumers can use their TV sets after they receive broadcasts.
The case involves something called the "broadcast flag," a slight digital modification to a broadcast digital TV signal, one that wouldn’t affect picture quality but would prevent a recording of the show from being uploaded to the Internet.
The FCC, after strong lobbying from the Motion Picture Association of America, ordered it into place two years ago. By July 1, as part of the FCC rule, all video-recording equipment sold in the U.S. — for instance DVD players and digital video recorders, including those on PCs — must support the flag.
UPDATE I: May 6, 2005 11:57am
Boing Boing has the full update on this:
The next move here is that the studios will take this to Congress and try to
get a law passed to make this happen. No chance. They got ZERO laws passed last
year. This year the best they’ve been able to accomplish is making it slightly
more illegal to videotape movies in the theatre.
The fact is, elected lawmakers are not suicidal enough to
break their constituents’ televisions. Watch and see: over the next year,
we’re all going to roast any lawmaker who so much as breathes the words
"Broadcast Flag" in a favorable tone.
"In the seven decades of its existence, the FCC has never before
asserted such sweeping authority. Indeed, in the past, the FCC has informed
Congress that it lacked any such authority. In our view, nothing has changed to
give the FCC the authority it now claims."
UPDATE II: May 6, 2005 2:44am
GMSV (sporting a smart new redesign) has all the details:
Undeterred by ruling, FCC begins work on "washing machine flag"
Court of Appeals in Washington staged a flag burning of sorts today, ruling that
the FCC does not have the authority to require makers of TV sets to equip them
broadcast flag that would prevent digital broadcast signals from being
redistributed. In vacating the regulation, the court sided with the
American Library Association and others, agreeing that the flag rule, went
far beyond the FCC’s power to regulate broadcasts. The rule, passed in 2003 and
scheduled to go into effect this July (see "Consumer
groups refuse to salute digital flag"), was an assault on two of the
Net’s fundamental building blocks — open-source software and the principle of end-to-end communication
— and the judges rightly ruled it out of bounds. "The broadcast flag
regulations exceed the agency’s delegated authority under the statute," the
three-judge panel unanimously concluded. "The insurmountable hurdle facing
the FCC in this case is that the agency’s general jurisdictional grant does not
encompass the regulation of consumer electronics products 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." Or, as panel member Judge Harry T.
Edwards more bluntly told the FCC’s lawyers, "You’ve gone
too far. Are washing machines next?”