Saturday, May 07, 2005
Victory for common sense: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit slapped down the Federal Communications Commission along with the Motion Picture Association of America and the broadcast networks over efforts to institute the "broadcast flag."
The broadcast flag could be used to for everything from preventing you from taping your favorite television show so you can watch it later or, if it let you tape it, would only let you play it in the VCR that made the original tape -- no more handing your friend that tape with the episode of "ER" they missed the previous night.
The broadcast flag was little more than another assault on the concept of "fair use." Any use that could possibly deprive the movie or television industries of a dollar is a use that they'd love to prohibit.
The D.C. appeals court noted that the FCC "has no power to act" until "Congress confers power on it" by enacting a law explicitly authorizing the broadcast flag.
In all likelihood, the entertainment industry's next step is to head back to Congress and attempt to get them to do what the FCC alone could not. If history is any guide, then proponents of fair use are going to have an uphill battle to fight. The entertainment industry has a boatload of money and the Congress has shown that it can be persuaded to act against the public's interest.