Aside from the form letter below, here is my personal experience. I have never
been a big TV viewer, but I bought a Panasonic Replay about 5 months ago (this
is a digital video recorder, similar to the more famous Tivo, an incredibly
flexible upgrade to the VCR). I have since sold off all my DVD's, and I easily
watch 3 times as much Television than previously; this behavior is directly
attributable to the DVR. The freedom to watch a wide variety of programs
WHENEVER I CHOOSE is what was missing from the television experience. If this
freedom were taken away from me, I'd simply go back to never watching the
television at all. Please don't send me a mindless form-letter reply, the
bottom line is this: If you're going to wave the flag of "consumer choice",
then please don't support legislation that eliminates said choice! I don't care
about "must-see TV", and even if I did, I have a life outside the Television
programmers' mindless schedules. Eliminating my ability to F!
REELY record the programs I choose is misguided and is quite frankly a slap in
the face. Government should not be in the business of "aiding" an industry so
enmeshed in the precepts of the "Free Market". Shall we cut back Cable
Telivision programming next, as there are obviouly too many choices for the 5
Major networks to compete with? The ability to record (and do whatever I please
with that recording) is a convenience which the Networks should be falling all
over themselves to provide. Because, if its being recorded, then its being
watched, no? As television advertising changes from commercials to hyperlinked
product placements within the shows themselves, the important this is that
people are watching. Please vote against this bill. Thank you.
As a consumer of digital content, I have a grave concern about the proposed
Broadcast Flag. 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.