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November 05, 2003
The FCC - Stupid or Dissimulators?
Prof. Ed Felten makes a good point on Freedom to Tinker about the FCC's justifications for the Broadcast Flag - they are incoherent (The Broadcast Flag, and Threat Model Confusion). The justifications for the broadcast flag and the effect of the broadcast flag are tangentially related at best. In the words of the FCC, "the broadcast flag seeks only to prevent mass distribution over the Internet." Additionally, according to the FCC, "consumersâ ability to make digital copies will not be affected."
Whether or not you agree with the justifications is not the question. The issue is whether the means the FCC has chosen are suited to the justifications. As Felten points out, they are not. The action the FCC has taken will not significantly, if at all, "prevent mass distribution over the Internet." It will, however, impede the average consumer's ability to make copies for friends and family.
Surely the FCC realizes this. If not, they must be stupid. The only other reason for the FCC to make such a statement, then, is to disguise their true intentions, that is, to dissimulate. In reality, the FCC should be saying that "the broadcast flag seeks only to prevent consumers from easily making copies for friends and family." However, such honesty would be a hard sell politically. It is much easier to demonize internet distribution than to tell people they shouldn't make copies for friends and family.
However, see also Seth Finkelstein's infothoughts on the matter (Broadcast Flag - desecration).
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