17 May 2005

Broadcast Flag is lowered

...before it was even raised!

Last year the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandated the introduction of a broadcast flag in digital television broadcasts that receivers and other devices dealing with digital video signals would have to read and obey (an item on the mandate was in the Technical Services Unit Report 20 August 2004). The idea was that producers and broadcasters could limit what consumers could do with digital television broadcasts: preventing the broadcasts for example from being recorded, or made into DVDs, or broadcast around IP networks (all of which we do here in the Division of Communication and Education, under existing provisions of the Copyright Act).

Last week a US appeals court struck down the regulation, concluding that the FCC didn’t have the authority to regulate ancillary devices like recorders.

While the FCC has no jurisdiction in Australia, under the Free Trade Agreement signed between the US and Australia last year, there would have been pressure on Australian broadcasters, manufacturers and distributors to mind the flag here as was to be required in the US.

See Court Nixes ‘Broadcast Flag’.