"Broadcast flag" must not have adverse effect on consumers

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees intellectual property issues, warned that the adoption of broadcast flag technology to copy protect digital television programming must not adversely affect television viewers.

“It is important that the transition to DTV and any implementation of rules requiring the use of the broadcast flag technology does not have an adverse affect on how consumers may legitimately use lawfully acquired entertainment products,” Smith said in a luncheon address last week at the Media Institute, a nonprofit research foundation based in Washington, D.C.

With FCC staff members attending his presentation, Smith diverted from his prepared text to remind attendees that his House Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property has jurisdiction over copyright issues. To FCC staffers he prodded, “I appreciate their recognition of our jurisdiction in future actions.”

Smith said that in the absence of protection against unauthorized redistribution, it is unlikely that content owners will make high-value programming available to over-the-air broadcasters.

“The broadcast flag is one solution strongly supported by copyright owners and broadcasters,” he continued. “Last year, the FCC adopted a notice of proposed rulemaking on digital broadcast copy protection. My subcommittee has great interest in the FCC’s action because the agency might issue rules that impact the Copyright Act and therefore involve my subcommittee’s jurisdiction.”

Smith acknowledged that controversy continues over what the broadcast flag will and will not do, and whether it will have an adverse effect on the ability of viewers to make “fair use” of copyrighted broadcast television.

For more information visit www.house.gov.

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