Public Interest Groups Argue Against Broadcast Flag

October 8, 2004
The FCC exceeded its authority when it voted to impose a "broadcast flag" on digital media devices, several public interest groups told an appeals court this week.

The U.S. Appeals Court, D.C. Circuit heard from nine public interest groups about the FCC ruling that allows broadcasters to use a "flag" for over-the-air digital television to prevent consumers from recording and copying digital TV programming.

Consumer Federation of America, Consumer's Union, several library associations, Public Knowledge and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), among others, filed the brief, stating that the FCC does not have the authority to regulate digital TV sets and other digital devices unless Congress grants such power.

"Right now, you can put an HDTV tuner card into a PC and build a digital video recorder that lets you watch digital television as you choose. We shouldn't have to trade that freedom for government-designed TVs," said Wendy Seltzer, EFF staff attorney.

The petitioners also argued that the FCC adopted the flag without providing evidence that redistributing digital content was problematic.

The FCC response brief is due Nov. 3, 2004. Oral arguments are slated for Feb. 22, 2004.

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