Sohn: The Video Flag is Bad Too

by on July 13, 2006

While I disagree with Public Knowledge about neutrality regulations, they’ve fighting an important and lonely battle against DRM mandates. PK president Gigi Sohn has a great post debunking the notion that the video flag is a kinder, gentler technology mandate. Here’s her response to the claim that the video flag, unlike the audio flag, protects the right to personal copying

It is true that if you have the right equipment you should still be able to make personal copies with the video flag. (Remember, some old devices may not work with flag-compliant devices, and once you buy one brand of flag-compliant device, you must buy the same brand for all downstream devices). However, regardless of what the FCC claims that the broadcast flag scheme prohibits, all but one of the broadcast flag technologies approved by the FCC prohibit all Internet redistribution, not just “mass, indiscriminate” redistribution. So if I want to email a copy of my appearance on the local news to my mother, the flag prohibits me from doing so. Essentially, the video flag permits me to retain my fair use rights circa 1992. Not a significant improvement over the audio flag, if you ask me.

She addresses several other arguments commonly used in defense of the video broadcast flag, so please read the whole thing. The bottom is that Washington shouldn’t be in the business of telling private companies how to design their products.

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