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Ernest Miller Ernest Miller pursues research and writing on cyberlaw, intellectual property, and First Amendment issues. Mr. Miller attended the U.S. Naval Academy before attending Yale Law School, where he was president and co-founder of the Law and Technology Society, and founded the technology law and policy news site LawMeme. He is a fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School. Ernest Miller's blog postings can also be found @

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« Jim Griffin on the Future of Filesharing | Main | DRM Dystopias on Parade »

February 12, 2004

Extending the Broadcast Flag

Posted by Ernest Miller

Video Business Online (reg. req.) reports on the latest efforts by Hollywood to take control of all devices that connect to a television (Analog Hole Creates a Chasm for Studios). The tagline is: "Execs say gap between playback and display devices impedes new business." Video Business Online is an industry rag, so you can't expect them to be entirely unbiased. The proper tagline should have been: "Hollywood Execs say impeding new business only way to save old business."

Not satisfied with the broadcast flag existing requirements, Hollywood is calling for even more restrictive standards including requiring that display devices also include DRM. No video on your legacy television or PC LCD for you:

In comments expected to be filed this week with the Federal Communications Commission, the studios will ask government regulators to allow content owners to include "selectable output control" in the implementation of the broadcast flag, Fox senior VP of content protection Ron Wheeler said.
The studios want the flag to signal receiving devices to turn off certain kinds of outputs unless those outputs are compatible with studio-approved copy protection technology.

If the FCC doesn't have the authority to do this, "the studios may seek special legislation this year that would grant the FCC the authority." Additionally, the studios want to ensure that DRM is upgradeable, so that when it is cracked (as is inevitable), software can be updated to new and improved DRM.

I am somewhat optimistic that the FCC won't condone this foolishness. Can you imagine the outrage if the FCC required every new HDTV reciever to be incompatible with every analog TV in America? On the other hand, I wouldn't bet against the FCC kowtowing to television broadcasters, particularly in an election year and especially if the requirement will only take effect a year after the election.

Comments (4) | Category: Broadcast Flag


1. Cypherpunk on February 13, 2004 07:13 AM writes...

The Unlimited Freedom blog comments on this proposal at

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2. Paul Sweeting on February 17, 2004 10:57 PM writes...

Mr. Miller,

You know nothing of me or my biases. Why do you feel compelled to question my motives in reporting a news story?

Paul Sweeting
Video Business

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3. Ernest Miller on February 17, 2004 11:55 PM writes...

My comments were not directed at you, personally, but at Video Business. It seems to me that their overall editorial line tends to be much less critical of Hollywood than other sources.

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4. Paul Sweeting on February 18, 2004 05:34 PM writes...

Glad to see you're a regular reader.


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