Naughty FCC, Says the US Court of Appeals

An official ruling isn't expected for several months, but in a US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit court hearing last week, a judge slapped down the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Judge Harry Edwards had some harsh words for an FCC rule requiring consumer electronics manufacturers to support "broadcast-flag" technology, which limits digital copying of TV programs. "You crossed the line," Edwards told FCC lawyers during the hearing. "Selling televisions is not what the FCC is in the business of." The Judge's comments show that he agrees with critics who complain that the FCC rule unfairly dictates how computers and consumer electronics devices should work together. Broadcast-flag technology was instituted in 2003 against threats by major broadcasters that they would stop airing high-definition TV programs if some form of copyright protection wasn't implemented. Broadcasters fear their content will be easily ripped off, much like music is today, if protections aren't put into place. It's still uncertain whether a higher court will rule against the FCC, though, since it's unclear whether broadcast-flag opponents—including the American Library Association—have the legal standing to challenge the rule. Unless something changes, starting July 1, all new consumer electronics devices must comply with the FCC rule

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