FCC under fire over 'broadcast flag'

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New laws banning the sale of certain digital television receivers in the US came under fire in a federal appeals court yesterday. Under new regulations due to become active in July, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will prohibit the sale of digital receivers unable to recognise a 'broadcast flag'.

The broadcast flag strategy is aimed at preventing piracy of digital programming. Entertainment rights holders will be able to flag programmes to stop them being copied and distributed over the internet.

The rules—which are backed by the Motion Picture Association of America—will apply to new digital television sets and computers capable of receiving digital TV.

But the FCC has been accused of over-stepping its authority. A lobby of US library and consumer groups says only Congress should be able to impose new copyright regulations.

Appeals court judge Harry T Edwards accused the FCC of going too far in introducing the new rules. "Are washing machines next?" he quipped.

Another judge on the appeals court panel, David B Sentelle, said the issue of copyright infringement was not the concern of the FCC. "You can't rule the world," he said.

Library and consumer groups fear the broadcast flag will stop the recording of programmes for educational and personal use purposes.

The appeals court is expected to reach a verdict on the broadcast flag rules in coming months.

Lovelacemedia  |  23.02.2005

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