Why FCC's "broadcast flag" hurts librarians, computer hobbyists

Lawyers for librarians and consumer groups are attempting to buttress their lawsuit challenging anti-piracy technology imposed by the Federal Communications Commission. Right now, they're at risk of losing the case because of a potential lack of "standing" -- particularized harm that they would suffer as a result of the FCC's broadcast flag rules.

According to a new brief, librarians, academics and computer hobbyists have standing to sue because they will no longer be able to make certain uses of digital TV broadcasts after the FCC's rules take effect in July. To wit:

- North Carolina State University won't be able to use broadcast clips for "distance learning" courses that use password-protected Web sites.

- The Vanderbilt Archive (at Vanderbilt University) will no longer be able to record television newscasts without anti-copying restrictions. It's archived over 400,000 hours of television news broadcasts so far.

- Manufacturers of HDTV tuner cards for PCs will be barred from selling them unless they're redesigned to include anti-copying restrictions.

A decision from the federal appeals court in Washington, DC that's considering the case is expected before July.

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