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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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May 26, 2005

Broadcast Flag Pro and Con in C|Net News

Posted by Ernest Miller

C|Net News has dueling articles on the Broadcast Flag. Dan Glickman, CEO of the MPAA, argues in favor of (Why the Broadcast Flag Should Go Forward). Tech attorney Jim Burger is in opposition (Why the Broadcast Flag Won't Work).

I'm biased, of course, but I do think Burger gets the best of this one, though I'm not terribly impressed with his implicit support for the DMCA. Glickman certainly has some odd things to say:

Without proper protections, it will be increasingly difficult to show movies, television shows or even baseball games on free television.
No television shows? Then it won't really be television anymore will it? What will we have? 24/7 static? Baseball games? Why the heck would Major League Baseball care very much about the Broadcast Flag? It is hard to believe that there is a major market in baseball game filesharing. As for the movies, sure there are lots of people who want "edited for broadcast with commercial interruptions" movies, instead of a $15 DVD with all sorts of bonus features, especially when they have to wait years after the DVD is available in order to record the broadcast. And, it isn't as if the DVD won't be ripped onto filesharing networks long before the movie is broadcast, thus completely destroying the market, presumably. I guess the MPAA's members will turn down money from television broadcasters because their movies are already being infringed on filesharing networks.
The irony, of course, is that modern cable and satellite delivery systems already have imbedded technical means that maintain the value of digital programming by preventing its redistribution over digital networks.
The irony, of course, is that absolutely all this content is available on filesharing networks anyway. Explain to me how this content has been "prevented" from being redistributed, given evidence that is being redistributed? The MPAA ought to be able to figure out better arguments than ones that are obviously factually challenged.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Broadcast Flag


COMMENTS

1. jamie on May 26, 2005 10:37 AM writes...

Any idea whether this is accurate?

From Glickman:
>>most television manufacturers have already changed their production to incorporate broadcast flag technology>>

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2. Rolo Timassie on May 26, 2005 07:51 PM writes...

No television shows? Then it won't really be television anymore will it?

We're talking first-run series, like "Lost" and "West Wing." If broadcast is less secure than other venues that content will go elsewhere.

The irony, of course, is that absolutely all this content is available on filesharing networks anyway. Explain to me how this content has been "prevented" from being redistributed, given evidence that is being redistributed?

He didn't say it was being prevented, he said the technical means were in place -- and he's referring to digital television, which is what the flag would apply to, not analog television, which is where most piracy currently comes from and what most people still have in their homes (whether they receive broadcast or cable/satellite). The protections have to be put in place now, at the beginning of the digital transition, so that they will be in place in the future, when everyone will have HDTV and use digital outputs.

Permalink to Comment

3. Ernest Miller on May 26, 2005 08:04 PM writes...

Well, we have "Lost" and "West Wing" even without HD. Do people really care if they can see the pores of the faux-president in HD? Is that going to make a significant difference? Perhaps we'll have to cut some salaries, but you're still going to have lots of people who want to be writers, actors, directors. I doubt the monetary remuneration will be so low that they all switch to another line of work.

As for cable protections not being effective, he was saying that the cable protections are "preventing redistribution over digital networks." "Preventing" - present progressive tense, meaning it is happening now.

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