FCC eyes PCs to block DTV copying

The FCC is now considering extending technology to block the copying of digital television programs to personal computers and other consumer electronic products.

A report by the Washington Post said this extension of the “broadcast flag” rule is one of a series of proposals being pushed by the entertainment industry to prevent copying and online trading of movies and television shows.

If passed, the new FCC rule also would force consumers to purchase new equipment if they wanted to record DTV programs and replay them on other machines. Opponents are concerned that the plan might lead to FCC regulation of how personal computers and other devices are built.

The newspaper quoted FCC officials, on condition of anonymity, who said they expect the agency to settle on details of the “broadcast flag” rule by the end of this month. The “flag” takes its name from the bit of computer code that would be embedded in digital television signals and would be read by “compliant” devices such as a television set or a digital video recorder.

The entertainment industry does not want premium content in digital form sent free over the air to be easily copied and distributed on the Internet. FCC officials told the Post they expect the final rule to enable competition among different means of deploying the flag system to protect broadcasts, rather than the government selecting a single technical standard.

For more information visit www.fcc.gov.

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