Friday, February 25

EFF and the "Broadcast Flag"

San Francisco - EFF this week announced the next stage
in its challenge to the Federal Communications
Commission's "Broadcast Flag" technology mandate. The
organization released a step-by-step guide, the "HD PVR
Cookbook," that teaches people how to build a
high-definition digital television (HDTV) recorder
unaffected by the technological constraints of the
Broadcast Flag. In addition, EFF is encouraging people
to protest the FCC rule by holding Build-Ins -
gatherings around the country to build unfettered
HDTV recorders in order to experience first-hand
the kind of innovation stifled by the government

The Broadcast Flag, which places copy controls on DTV
signals, is aimed at stopping people from making
digitally perfect copies of television shows and
redistributing them. Yet it can also be used to stop
people from making perfectly legitimate personal
copies of broadcasts. More disturbing, the Broadcast
Flag rule will outlaw the manufacture and import of a
whole host of TiVo-like devices that send DTV signals
into a computer for backup, editing, and playback.
After the Broadcast Flag regulations go into effect,
all personal video recorder (PVR) technologies must
be Broadcast Flag-compliant and "robust" against user
modification - meaning that, once again, the
entertainment industry is trying to tell you what you
can do with your own machines.

EFF released its technological challenge to the Broadcast
Flag on the same day that the organization and other
public interest groups challenged the FCC in the courtroom.
In ALA v. FCC, the groups - including the American Library
Association and Public Knowledge - argue that the FCC
has overstepped its authority in mandating the
Broadcast Flag and that the rule should be struck down.

Groups who want to host their own Build-Ins can contact
EFF for a "Throw Your Own Build-In" kit, which includes
a hard copy of the HD PVR Cookbook, a KnoppMyth CD-ROM,
and (of course!) free EFF t-shirts and stickers.

"Even as we're suing the FCC to stop this interference
with technological innovation, we're also helping
television watchers to get off the couch and build
their own fully capable PVRs," said EFF Special Projects
Coordinator Wendy Seltzer, who organized the Build-In.
"Every MythTV built helps demonstrate the creative
development that may be cut off by bad regulation."

For the full press release:

HD PVR Cookbook:

More about the Broadcast Flag:

MacNewsWorld article: "'Broadcast Flag' Prompts Digital
TV Debate":