A small miracle occurred in DC last week. A few Senators actually began to understand just why the people they supposedly represent (that’s you and me) will not at all enjoy living with the broadcast flag law they’re considering.
First, a Republican actually bit the hand that feeds them (in this case the RIAA) and questioned whether the regulations were necessary at all.
The suggestion is that if we don’t do this, it will stifle creativity. Well…we have now an unprecedented wave of creativity and product and content development…new business models, and new methodologies for distributing this content. The history of government mandates is that it always restricts innovation…why would we think that this one special time, we’re going to impose a statutory government mandate on technology, and it will actually encourage innovation?
Then the chairman, Senator Stevens of Alaska, revealed his daughter had bought him an iPod and began questioning RIAA representatives as to whether he would be able to use the device with their music in the way he wanted to. At the end of their tap dancing routine, of course, the answer was no.
Let’s face it. Stevens is not exactly in the music industry’s prime demographic. (You might know him from his role as one of Jon Stewart’s favorite punching bags on the Daily Show.) If someone like him is beginning to get the idea that these restrictions are aggressively anti-consumer, maybe there’s hope after all.
In the end, however, the fate of the flag and similar restrictive laws will depend on whether Congressional concern for the general public is outweighed by the large campaign contributions from the big media companies. Stay tuned.