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The Broadcast Flag: It's Not Just TV

7 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2005  

Wendy Seltzer

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society; Yale Law School Information Society Project; University of Colorado Law School

Date Written: October 2005

Abstract

The Broadcast Flag was an FCC Rule adopted in late 2003 to restrict "indiscriminate Internet redistribution" of television programs by limiting the capabilities of digital television tuners. While it would not have stopped television piracy, the Rule would have sharply limited independent and open-source development of home media technology with features like TiVo's "pause live TV." I argue that technology mandates must be assessed not only by their effectiveness against the problem they are designed to address, but also by their collateral effects on technology development and end-user innovation. Measured against this wider circle of effects, the Broadcast Flag Rule would hurt far more than it helped. [Since this piece was published, the Broadcast Flag Rule was struck down by the D.C. Circuit on the grounds that the FCC lacked jurisdiction to regulate signals once received. As of late 2005, Congress is being lobbied to re-enact the Flag rule or to give the FCC the power to do so.]

Keywords: FCC, broadcast flag, technology mandate, digital television, open-source

JEL Classification: K23, K39

Suggested Citation

Seltzer, Wendy, The Broadcast Flag: It's Not Just TV (October 2005). Berkman Center Research Publication No. 2005-06. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=870589 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.870589

Wendy Seltzer (Contact Author)

University of Colorado Law School ( email )

401 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309
United States
303-492-0426 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.silicon-flatirons.org/

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Yale Law School Information Society Project ( email )

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

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