The US FCC has approved plans to embed a digital marker or flag in all digital television programmes in order to prevent their illegal distribution over the Internet as broadband develops. Broadcasters and film makers are particularly concerned that illegal copies will reach foreign markets in a digital form before foreign broadcasters have had a chance to legally broadcast there. In the UK, a number of foreign series such as Friends are often months, if not years, behind first transmission in the US.
But the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) have voiced serious concerns about the broadcast flag and its impact on the manufacturing of digital televisions and DVD recorders as well as on the personal liberty of consumers – “The FCC today has taken a step that will shape the future of television,” said EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney Fred von Lohmann. “Sadly, this represents a step in the wrong direction, a step that will undermine innovation, fair use, and competition.” The EFF’s pre-ruling ‘action alert newsletter’ commented: Hollywood is at it again, trying to control the design of new digital technologies. If the motion picture studios have their way, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will force manufacturers to include Hollywood-approved “content protection” technology in all future televisions. Fair use, innovation and competition will suffer. What’s more, the “broadcast flag” technology that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has proposed is so weak that it will do nothing to stem Internet redistribution of television programs. Rather than thwart copyright infringement, the broadcast flag will harm the legitimate interests of consumers, innovators and researchers
See:http://www.citizenonline.net/citizen/archive/article63D5DE10937547FABEA0B509CFDA1B87.aspand http://www.eff.org EFFector 16.27: Action Alert: Stop the MPAA’s Broadcast Flag! Oct 11 2003