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Center for Democracy and Technology won't oppose broadcast flag

Background on broadcast flag:

Public Knowledge's disagreement with CDT on the broadcast flag:


August 23, 2005 12:06 PM PDT

An array of non-profit groups including the Electronic Frontier 
Foundation, Public Knowledge, and the American Library Association spent 
years fighting the idea of a "broadcast flag," a federal regulation that 
would have outlawed many digital TV receivers and tuner cards starting 
July 1.

They won. In May, a federal appeals court unceremoniously tossed out the 
Federal Communications Commission's regulations.

But now one non-profit advocacy group is breaking ranks with its usual 
allies and handing Congress a road map to reinstating the broadcast 
flag. The idea is to reduce piracy of digital TV by prohibiting the 
manufacture of computer and video hardware that doesn't sport copy 
protection technology.

The Center for Democracy and Technology on Tuesday published its 
"recommendations" for Congress. Instead of telling politicians that such 
a law would be unwise and that it would necessarily infringe on 
Americans' fair use rights, CDT merely offers some guidelines for what 
the first President Bush might have called a kindler, gentler broadcast 

CDT said, for instance, in its road map: "The FCC did a number of things 
right in its initial broadcast flag decisions, including being open to 
approving new technologies even if they were controversial."

"We're not lockstep with EFF/PK on this, so we're not out there saying 
'a broadcast flag regime inevitably sucks for consumers,'" CDT analyst 
David Sohn told me in e-mail. "Aggressive opposition to any and all 
possible versions of a flag rule is simply not our position."

Does that mean that CDT -- which receives about half its revenue from 
corporate contributions -- is quietly cashing checks from the big media 
companies that have begun to lobby Congress to reinstate the broadcast flag?

A now-deleted Web page, saved in February 2003 by Archive.org, shows 
that Time Warner, Disney, and Vivendi (an owner of NBC Universal) have 
been supporters. Though for the record, a CDT spokesman said Tuesday 
that only Time Warner (that is, AOL) currently is providing cash.

Posted by Declan McCullagh on Aug 24, 2005 in category intellectual-property

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