Why The Broadcast Flag Is Bad News

from the just-read-this dept

If you’ve been following the discussion about how the FCC is getting ready to mandate the use of a “broadcast flag”, you’ll remember that it’s pretty clear the FCC doesn’t really understand what the issues are. That doesn’t mean you need to be equally in the dark. Salon is running a good article that looks into the issues surrounding the broadcast flag, and points out (like so many copy protection technologies) that the broadcast flag will do absolutely nothing to stop people from sharing TV shows, but will make the lives of technology makers and consumers much more annoying. Instead of creating a spec and letting companies build to the spec, the movie industry wants the government to produce an “approved list” of technologies, something that is only likely to mean much slower innovation. Mandated technologies generally aren’t the best solution, and make it difficult to create real innovation by blocking what you’re allowed to do. There are a few other issues mentioned in the article worth pointing out. First, it’s unlikely many people are going to be trading high definition files any time soon. Over a full T1 line, it would take about 18 hours to download a 1 hour show, and require 36 gigs of storage. Not impossible, but unlikely to be worth it. More importantly, some people are asking the other important question: what if file sharing actually would help the TV industry by building a bigger audience for their product? As Mike Godwin says in the article, he’s a huge fan of “Buffy” and he could “download every episode”, but he still bought the DVD, because it’s easier. In those cases, having the download available is only likely to increase the market.

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Comments on “Why The Broadcast Flag Is Bad News”

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1 Comment
Mark F says:

What studios should do.

“Over a full T1 line, it would take about 18 hours to download a 1 hour show, and require 36 gigs of storage”

I bet people said the same thing about music – a 30 MB file over a 2400 baud modem, impossible!

When discussing the legal and business implications of video over the internet size is a red herring.

Studios should make TV shows available on pay per view and pay for unlimited views with no commericals (and free or low cost with non skipable commericals) immediately after they are first broadcast. The whole idea of TV schedules set by some programmer in NBC/CBS etc is silly.

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