New bill could mean end of TV recording
Published: Monday, October 31, 2005
Updated: Monday, August 9, 2010 14:08
A bill currently being discussed in Senate and House committees could prevent people from recording their favorite shows ever again.
The bill, sponsored by both the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry of America Association is aimed at giving the Federal Communications Committee the power to add a broadcast flag to all TV signals.
Jerry James, an assistant professor of computer science at Utah State University, is one of many people across the nation worried about this new flag.
According to James, the broadcast flags are a group of bits in the TV signal that would regulate what the program could be used for on the receiving end.
"You will no longer be able to pop a tape into your VCR and know that you will necessarily be able record what you want," James said.
Using the broadcast flag, those broadcasting the signal would be able to decide if those receiving it would be able to save the program onto any format or be able to use a service like TiVo to pause or skip commercials.
If enacted, the bill would also give power to the FCC to regulate the kinds of technology that TV and VCR companies can use in making their products.
"This will put a huge cap on innovation," James said. "No one will be able create a new kind of digital TV."
James said that the legal battle over these flags goes back a while. A few years ago, the MPAA and RIAA went to FCC and asked for them to be able to start sending these flags with all signals to protect materials being transmitted from being saved.
According to Cnet, a prominent technology news Web site in November 2003, the FCC made a rule saying all products sold in the United States after July 2005 would be required by law to recognize these broadcast flags.
In May of this year, the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C Circuit, ruled that the FCC didn't have the right to limit digital TV signals in that way, the FCC didn't have authority from Congress to make such "sweeping changes."
James says that the bill currently being discussed is aimed at giving the FCC this power.
James has already written to Robert Bishop, the area's representative of the House, about the issue. Bishop is not on the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet which is currently discussing the bill, but he says he is planning to vote against it should it come up for a vote.
According to the U.S House of Representatives Web Site, no Utah or Idaho representatives are on the committee.
James recommends the best way for those concerned to help out is to be informed.
"The information is all out there, right now it's just on the tech sites," he said. "They may get away with this if the public doesn't start howling."
For more information, check out wikipedia.org/wiki/Broadcast_flag,
www.publicknowledge.org/action/night_of_the_broadcast_flag or www.eff.org/broadcastflag/three_minute_guide.php.