The Washington Post’s Rob Pegoraro has an interesting article on the sorry state of affairs we’ve now reached as a result of the Federal government’s “broadcast flag” requirement. Tivo would like to add a new feature to their digital video recorders, but faces a strenuous objection from the National Football League, which fears for its, uh, stadium business. Here’s a few choice bits…but go read the whole thing:
TiVo vs. the Broadcast Flag Wavers
By Rob Pegoraro
The Washington Post
Sunday, August 1, 2004; Page F06
TiVo, the company that makes the digital-video-recorder boxes that inspire such strange idolatry among their users, is in a weird spot. It’s asking the Federal Communications Commission for permission to add a new feature — the option for a TiVo user to send recorded digital TV programs via the Internet to nine other people.
Huh? Permission? Doesn’t the government’s involvement in consumer electronics stop with making sure that a gadget doesn’t jam your neighbor’s reception or electrocute you? Since when do the feds get to vote on product designs?
The answer is, since last November, when the FCC voted to require manufacturers to support the “broadcast flag” system by July 1 of next year. This convoluted mechanism aims to stop full-quality copies of digital broadcasts from circulating on the Internet.
And the real crux of the issue:
The MPAA and the NFL phrase their objections as reasonable attempts to err on the side of caution. “We’re asking them to just wait awhile, let’s think it out more thoroughly,” Attaway said.
But if a programmer or an engineer with a bright idea has to go to Washington, hat in hand and lawyers in tow, to request permission to sell a better product — and is then told “just wait awhile” — we are on our way to suffocating innovation in this country.