FCC's broadcast flag: It's back?

The broadcast flag could be raised again.

Less than a week after a federal appeals court nixed the Federal Communications Commission's plan to forcibly implant anti-copying technology into digital TV tuners, Hollywood appears to be turning to Congress for some legislative aid.

Advocacy group Public Knowledge, which sued to challenge the FCC's broadcast flag, says it has obtained a copy of the Motion Picture Association of America's draft legislation.

The draft bill says, simply, that the FCC will "have authority to adopt regulations governing digital television apparatus necessary to control the indiscriminate redistribution of digital television broadcast content over digital networks." The District of Columbia Circuit nixed the flag on the grounds that the FCC didn't have the authority. This language would clear that up.

There's no word yet on what the MPAA has to say, but it's fair to say that this kind of legislative response was inevitable.

The main thing holding Congress back right now is that everyone's waiting for what the U.S. Supreme Court will decide in the Grokster case. The loser in that lawsuit will ask politicians for help, and that legislation (the thinking goes) would be a good opportunity to address digital TV copy-prevention techniques as well.

Tech Culture
About the author

Declan McCullagh is the chief political correspondent for CNET. You can e-mail him or follow him on Twitter as declanm. Declan previously was a reporter for Time and the Washington bureau chief for Wired and wrote the Taking Liberties section and Other People's Money column for CBS News' Web site.


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