Broadcast flag debate continues

Last week, amidst all the hoopla about Net Neutrality and other media issues in Congress, the infamous broadcast flag tried to quietly sneak back on stage.

This time someone discovered an authorization for the flag technology had been tucked into the proposed 151-page revamp of the telecommunications act.

The broadcast flag, repeatedly rejected by the courts and Congress, is a copy protection scheme that's integrated into digital broadcast programming. If allowed, it would allow content owners — mainly the Hollywood studios — to control and limit how their program material is copied or distributed beyond the broadcast.

Critics say the flag, which could be used to block the recording of programming, would violate the public's legal right to “fair use” of television programming.

Public Knowledge, a media rights advocacy group, blew the whistle on the latest flag surprise, calling this version “worse than any before, without any real exceptions for fair use. Even worse, this time it's paired with an Audio Broadcast Flag that will cover digital and satellite radio too. Government technology mandates all around!”