I am opposed to the proposed broadcast flag. I currently practice my fair use
rights, as defined by the Supreme Court. I time-shift televised programming,
for my own personal use, to watch at a later time. I do this legally. I
respect intellectual property rights, and the copyright laws. I always have.
As a consumer of digital content, I have a grave concern about the proposed
Broadcast Flag. I am opposed to it. I enjoy the flexibility and control that
technology gives me. I can be more than a passive recipient of content; I can
modify, create and participate. Technology currently gives me more choices by
allowing me to record a television program and watch it later; clip a small
piece of TV and splice it into a home movie; send an email clip of my child's
football game to a distant relative; or record a TV program onto a DVD and play
it at my friend's apartment. The broadcast flag seems designed to remove this
control and flexibility that I enjoy.
Historically, the law has allowed for those not affiliated with creating content
to come up with new, unanticipated ways of using it. For example, Sony invented
the modern VCR -- a movie studio did not. (Sony did not own a movie studio at
the time.) Diamond Multimedia invented the MP3 player -- a recording label did
not. Unfortunately, the broadcast flag has the potential to put an end to that
dynamic. Because the broadcast flag defines what uses are authorized and which
are not, unanticipated uses of content which are not foreseeable today are by
default unauthorized. If we allow the content industry to "lock in" the
definition of what is and is not legitimate use, we curtail the ability for
future innovation - unanticipated but legal uses that will benefit consumers.
I am a law-abiding consumer who believes that piracy should be prevented and
prosecuted. However, if theoretical prevention comes at the cost of prohibiting
me from making legal, personal use of my content, then the FCC should be working
to protect all consumers rather than enable those who would restrict consumer
rights. In the case of the broadcast flag, it seems that it will have little
effect on piracy. With file-sharing networks, a TV program has only to be
cracked once, and it will propagate rapidly across the Internet. So, while I may
be required to purchase consumer electronic devices that cost more and allow me
to do less, piracy will not be diminished.
In closing, I urge you to require the content industry to demonstrate that its
proposed technologies will allow for all legal uses and will actually achieve
the stated goal of preventing piracy. If they cannot, I urge you not to mandate
the broadcast flag.
I have invested a considerable amount of money in my home theater equipment.
Much of this was based on the assumption that i would be able to enjoy true
HDTV, and also to time shift HDTV programming on occasion, so my family and I
could watch at a later time. We are not pirates. I do not advocate nor approve
of piracy. We are Americans.
-Bruce Spielbauer