While most of the attention paid to Ted Stevens' telco reform bill concerns network neutrality, when it was first announced the thing that stood out even more was the bizarre inclusion of the "audio flag" that the entertainment industry has been pushing for years. It serves no purpose in a telco bill, other than to reward the entertainment industry in their business negotiations with companies like XM, who are trying to provide perfectly legal tools to allow people to record the satellite radio they pay for. Now comes the news that Senator Bill Frist finds this particular issue so important that he won't let the telco reform bill move forward unless it contains the audio flag language. Apparently, Senator Frist doesn't think you should be able to record the satellite radio you paid for. Once again, this has nothing to do with telecom reform, but is simply a way to get technology and consumer electronics firms to first ask permission from the entertainment industry before they can innovate. And, since the entertainment industry is afraid of any innovation that doesn't keep their business model as is, there would be a lot less innovation. This might be a good time to re-read Gary Shapiro's history lesson about all of the technology innovations the entertainment industry tried to stop -- only to later discover (kicking and screaming the whole way), how they helped the industry grow tremendously.
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