Like a zombie from any number of bad movies, the broadcast flag has been brought to life again. A group of Senators owned by the big media companies have introduced the Digital Content Protection Act of 2006.
As in the last three attempts, the bill would require manufacturers of any device that plays digital media (DVD, television, satellite receiver, etc.) to include circuitry that looks for a “flag” embedded in the signal. That flag would then tell the device what can and cannot be done with the signal.
This is all based on the desires of the creator, of course, not the user. So, if you want to record a movie from HBO to your TiVo, the production company could tell the recorder to erase it after two days. Or not allow recording at all. Music companies could put a flag on the CDs telling your computer not to rip the tracks to your iPod.
Fair use for education? You wish.
Of course, the technology will “protect” the content until someone figures out how to bypass the flag. That will probably take a few weeks at most.
In the end, however, piracy will not go away. But this kind of crap is sure to piss off the vast majority of honest consumers who simply want to use the digital media they’ve paid for in the device of their choosing, at the time and place of their choosing.
The clueless people running the big media companies simply refuse to face the reality of digital media: once a file has been converted to ones and zeros, they no longer have control.
If you’re concerned about this government-sponsored attack on your consumer rights, drop on over to the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Action Center on the broadcast flag and get more information on what can be done.