Federal Internet Law & Policy
An Educational Project
IP: DRM & Broadcast Flag Dont be a FOOL; The Law is Not DIY

Derived From: CRS Report, Copyright Exemptions for Distance Education: 17 U.S.C. § 110(2), the Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act of 2002, p. 9-10 (July 6, 2006)

"Digital television (DTV) is a new service representing a significant development in television transmission technology. DTV can provide sharper pictures, a wider screen, CD-quality sound, better color rendition, multiple video programming, and a single program of high definition television (HDTV).

"Developing a protocol for transmitting and receiving digital television in a way that accommodates competing interests of content providers (e.g., movie studios and television networks) and consumers has proved challenging. Digital content can be easily duplicated and distributed, especially with the aid of the Internet. Unlike other types of content, duplication of digital information does not degrade the original. For example, the quality of a program recorded on an analog VHS tape degrades after successive copies, but content delivered through a DVD may be copied almost infinitely with little to no effect on display and sound quality. It is due to the ease and inexhaustible potential of copying digital media, coupled with the proliferation of peer-to-peer file-sharing services, that content owners approach new DTV technology with some trepidation.

"The broadcast flag was created as a possible solution to prevent users from unlawfully manipulating or pirating DTV content. The “flag,” an encrypted tag signal, is buried into a digital transmission. The flag is adaptable: it can create time restrictions on viewing, it can prevent copying, or it can block a person’s ability to edit a transmission. The broadcast flag is a form of digital rights management, or DRM.

"If implemented, a broadcast flag system is likely to require that all devices receiving transmissions be flag compliant. Its potential use as an effective DRM for DTV transmissions was advanced after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) determined that broadcast transmissions be digital by December 31, 2006."



Govt Activity

Brian T. Yeh, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report to Congress, Copyright Protection of Digital Television: The Broadcast Video Flag(Jan. 11, 2007)



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