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Court Says FCC Out-of-Bounds With Digital TV

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the because-vcrs-are-okay dept.

The Courts 481

USA4034 writes "A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday stated that regulators had overstepped their authority by imposing a rule designed to limit the copying of digital television programs." From the article: "The FCC rule aims to limit people from sending copies of digital television programs over the Internet. The FCC has said copyright protections are needed to help speed the adoption of digital television."

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1st? (-1, Offtopic)

e133tc1pher (752949) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749840)

1st : )

Re: 1st? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11749887)

Geez, guy. This isn't FC.

Current (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11749841)

Dirty hippy geek thieves 1, FCC 98737.

They got to Slashdot! (-1, Offtopic)

TelJanin (784836) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749843)

"Nothing for you to see here, please move along". Oh no!

Could this be fun (-1, Offtopic)

colinrichardday (768814) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749845)

Could this be fun!

<cartman>Kick Ass</cartman> (4, Funny)

mohaine (62567) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749851)

<cartman>Kick Ass</cartman>

Kick Ass is right. (2, Interesting)

game kid (805301) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750075)

I welcome our upcoming legal South Park HDTV episodes with open arms. If there's such a thing as--or need for something like--an HDTV South Park episode. (Maybe we can see the actual food chunks in Mr. Hankey?)

Seriously, I worry this opposition won't get recognized. TFA does say "...it was unclear whether the judges would strike down the FCC's 2003 rule, since doubts were also raised about whether the American Library Association and other opponents had legal standing to challenge the rule in court." and when money is involved rulings like to end up going the way of The Almighty Dollar(R).

But they didn't say ,"Stop!" (3, Interesting)

winkydink (650484) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749855)

But it was unclear whether the judges would strike down the FCC's 2003 rule, since doubts were also raised about whether the American Library Association and other opponents had legal standing to challenge the rule in court. They'll let the FCC slide on a technicality, mark my words.

Re:But they didn't say ,"Stop!" (4, Insightful)

dark_requiem (806308) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749925)

A perfect example of a major problem with our legal system. In order to challenge a blatantly unconstitutional and unjust law, I must first become its victim, because I cannot challenge a law until I have been brought up on charges based on that law. My only other recourse is to convince another victim to challenge it instead. We need a court system wherein one can challenge the constitutionality of any law without first violating it and risking prosecution. Otherwise, there is too great a risk that the victims of unjust laws will remain silent and not challenge the law, for fear that their sentence for violating it will be all the more severe for daring to speak out.

"Stop!" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11750067)

Does that apply to something like the death penalty?

Re:But they didn't say ,"Stop!" (4, Informative)

general_re (8883) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750107)

In order to challenge a blatantly unconstitutional and unjust law, I must first become its victim, because I cannot challenge a law until I have been brought up on charges based on that law.

False, moderation notwithstanding. The term you're looking for is "facial challenge".

Re:But they didn't say ,"Stop!" (1)

gremlins (588904) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750111)

Or every wacko in the Country will come out challenging every law on the books. I agree certain laws suck but I don't think it is to much to ask to find someone who actully has been harmed.

Re:But they didn't say ,"Stop!" (4, Informative)

Kentsusai (837912) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750125)

Yes you are very right.

That is because America has a legal system based on the Common Law. Just like England and Australia.

Countries based on a Civil Law system such as France allow people to get rulings from a court prior to them performing an act. For example, if you were in France you could go to a court and ask "Can I download this file?" You will be given a definite "Yes" or "No" and that statement made by the court will be binding.

In order to solve this problem, Common Law jurisdictions have to develop an "Interpretations Court". What this court would do is allow people to ask whether it is legal to do what they want. Just like France.

The problem with implementing such a system is that it may be unconstitutional. The reason why it would be unconstituional is because the users of the lower court would want a binding affirmation, one that could not be overturned by the Supreme Court. This would be unsound in the terms of the Constitution. The Supreme Court is not meant to be bound by lower courts.

MOD UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11750166)

I have no idea if this lucid, simple, and surprisingly-understandable explanation is correct, but hey, it sounds all authoritative and stuff.

Re:But they didn't say ,"Stop!" (1, Insightful)

Ayaress (662020) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750159)

Not true. Anybody can challenge a law. The ACLU does it all the time. Many of the laws they challenge deal with individual freedoms, and the ACLU has no way to become a victim of them, but they can still challenge them and they do succeed. What's screwed up with the legal system is that in order to successfully challenge a law, you need a bigger lobby than the people who pushed it through.

Re:But they didn't say ,"Stop!" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11750008)

So who WOULD have the standing to challenge the law? Can I as a customer who wants to buy a product they are making illegal be allowed to challenge the law?

Re:But they didn't say ,"Stop!" (4, Insightful)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750009)

They'll let the FCC slide on a technicality, mark my words.

There is an important issue behind standing, the idea is to avoid wasting court time and to also make sure that a party can't establish a bogus precedent by bringing a case and deliberately putting up a poor case.

There is one set of constituents who are quite obviously directly affected by the broadcast flag issue, hardware manufacturers. They clearly have standing to bring a case since they are being directly required to implement the flag.

I don't think it makes any sense to throw this one out on standing grounds.

Soon, very soon (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11749859)

it will be illegal to live in America.

For everyone.

Mod parent up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11749984)

+1 insightful

No, it will be illegal to NOT consume (4, Insightful)

Cryofan (194126) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750141)

THey WANT us sheeple to live in America, as many of us as possible. But what they DON'T want is non-consuming sheeple. That is probably why they do whatever they can to stop universal healthcare and to make marijuana as illegal as possible. They don't want us living back in the hills, growing and smoking weed, eschewing the consumer lifestyle, and only coming down out of the hills to get medical care. To them, we are just livestock on the consumer ranch, and every rancher wants his livestock as productive as possible. /conspiracy theorist...

Re:Soon, very soon (1)

jpetts (208163) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750169)

Actually, that's a very good first step to a totalitarian/fascist/police state: make so many seemingly innoccuous offenses that pretty much everybody becomes a transgressor through normal day-to-day activites.

Then when you want to target someone just look at the trivial crimes he has committed and take it from there...

The FCC Is Folding With Four Aces (5, Interesting)

Steve B (42864) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749860)

The FCC has said copyright protections are needed to help speed the adoption of digital television.

BS. The government is determined to take back the analog spectrum and move TV to the new digital channels. All they have to do is just do it, and the entertainment industry will have to deal with life in the new reality.

Re:The FCC Is Folding With Four Aces (4, Interesting)

EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750077)

Is it really the job of the government to rip up an existing, heavily used infrastructure and force the providers and users onto a new infrastructure?

I don't think HDTV is worth the price. I'm not about to plunk down $1000 for a new TV $100 for a HDTV converter, when my existing TV works good enough. In the end, I would have the same basic product, but I'd have $100 or $1000 less in savings (or $100 or $1000 more in Credit Card debt). But OOOO there are more pixels on the screen now!

Basically, if the FCC shuts down the analog TV spectrum and insists that I spend money on a new thing, I'll stop watching TV. There are millions of people like me, and somehow I don't think the broadcasters want to lose the business.

Re:The FCC Is Folding With Four Aces (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750099)

I think the new HDTV mandate should use same as NTSC quality/resolution and use the additional throughput for more channels, give each licensee two adjacent channels and the government takes and reallocates the massive leftovers.

Re:The FCC Is Folding With Four Aces (1)

iowannaski (766150) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750173)

Or better yet, the digital TV mandate shouldn't specify a resolution at all. Broadcasters should be allowed to use their alloted bandwidth for either multiple standard def channels or for fewer higher def channels. Of course, that is what the mandate specifies, so I'm not going to get too bent out of shape over it,

Re:The FCC Is Folding With Four Aces (1)

mog007 (677810) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750123)

The FCC censors shit to a horrible degree already. If they start telling cable companies how to run things, when they arn't broadcasted over a radio wave, they're not doing what they're supposed to be doing.

As Eric Idle said:
"Fuck you very much The FCC."

Re:The FCC Is Folding With Four Aces (1)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750174)

BS. The government is determined to take back the analog spectrum and move TV to the new digital channels. All they have to do is just do it, and the entertainment industry will have to deal with life in the new reality.

And in the process cut off their constituents from watching the political advertising that ensures the 98% incumbent re-election rate. Not very likely.

I'm not convinced (1)

Low2000 (606536) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749869)

I hate to nay say but I'm not convinced. That is to say does this mean the absolute end of the worrysom evil bit in the near future? The the broadcast flag no more? What other avanues could the FCC possibly legaly persue now? What about content providors?

A Victory for Common sense (5, Interesting)

Staplerh (806722) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749871)

Thank goodness that this fell into the lap of a judge with some common sense. Seems like he made some pretty smart comments:

"Selling televisions is not what the FCC is in the business of," Edwards said, siding with critics who charge the rule dictates how computers and other devices should work.

Edwards and one of the other two judges, David Sentelle, agreed with the critics and told FCC lawyer Jacob Lewis that the law does not give the agency specific authority to dictate how electronic devices must be made.


Good call, in my humble opinion. The FCC quite simply had no jurisdiction, they outstepped their boundaries, and they were called on it.

Re:A Victory for Common sense (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749916)

I completely agree with you. Anyway, this belongs in the lap of the legislative branch, not a regulatory agency.

except that (2, Insightful)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749949)

what about all those rules re; radio interferance and cell phone & wifi antenna/design registrations.

is that not
dictate how electronic devices must be made
I don't want the broadcast flag either.. but I want the judges to make accurate statements as well...

Re:except that (1)

Reo Strong (661900) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750028)

No, it is regulating how they work, not how they are made. They require that devices do not interfere with other devices (except for special cases).

Re:except that (1)

Gaewyn L Knight (16566) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750153)

They still do not dictate how the devices most perform... They simply say "This is the most amount of harm they can do to the spectrum" which is their right as they are the protectors of that area.

You can't broadcast more than Xmw with this device... we don't care how you do it... but that is the limit.

The manufacturer can choose how to "protect" it's emmissions to that level.

Re:except that (4, Informative)

theLOUDroom (556455) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750170)

what about all those rules re; radio interferance and cell phone & wifi antenna/design registrations.

is that not dictate how electronic devices must be made


NO IT"S NOT.

The FCC (generally) only has the authority to dictate the use of the electromagnetic spectrum.
THEY DON'T TELL MANUFACTURERS HOW TO BUILD THINGS.
They don't tell them how to build Xboxes, cellphones, etc.
They tell they that you device must be designed in such a way that it will meet with their regulations on the EM spectrum.

This is all they are allowed to do, BY LAW.
If "the people" (a term I use very loosely...believe me) decide that the FCC should actually be able to tell manufactures to respect the broadcast flag, the a law must be passed saying they have the authority to do so.
This is what the cellphone industry pushed through for scanners and thing is what the television industry will have to do:
Buy a law.
Isn't democracy grand?

The legislators do not have common sense.... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11750039)

Remember when a judge ruled that the Commerce Department didn't have the authority to set up the Do-Not-Call list? Within a week Congress granted them the authority. The same will happen here if we don't begin to pressure the legislature not to give the FCC the requisite power.

In short, don't breathe a sigh of relief: instead, break out your pen and start writing.

What does this mean for the future of television? (3, Interesting)

Sheetrock (152993) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749877)

As much as I hate to play devil's advocate, the rampant adoption of PVRs has left television in a sad state. Advertisers are no longer willing to pay top dollar for airtime out of fear that their commercials will not be watched, prompting an exec to compare fast-forwarding to theft of service in a fit of hyperbole.

Theatrics aside, the cost of quality cable or satellite programming has gone up, but the quality has been on a steady decline because of the loss of ad revenue. The FCC decision like most of their actions was made to preserve the standard of service that we've grown accustomed to, and one wonders if it will be worth recording if there is nothing at all to record.

Re:What does this mean for the future of televisio (5, Insightful)

mboverload (657893) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749933)

It doesn't require lots of money to make a good TV show. You have been brainwashed into thinking a good show has to have famous people and a huge budget.

Re:What does this mean for the future of televisio (4, Funny)

wembley (81899) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750029)

If that's true, why are most shows now about previously unknown twits who will sell their soul to get on TV eating llama nipples?

Re:What does this mean for the future of televisio (1)

double-oh three (688874) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750089)

Um... Have you seen/talked to the average (to below average) American? If you havn't that's why you don't know the answer to your question.

Re:What does this mean for the future of televisio (1)

tarnin (639523) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750130)

Simple, because people are already goaded into thinking that they DO in fact need big names and over priced "stars" for a show to be good. People with real talent who are no names are getting screwed and not even given a real chance most of the time and end up having to shill themselves out to reality shows to get any kind of a break.

Whats really sad though is people with any talent are not signing up for these craptastic things.

Re:What does this mean for the future of televisio (3, Insightful)

dvdeug (5033) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750079)

It doesn't require lots of money to make a good TV show. You have been brainwashed into thinking a good show has to have famous people and a huge budget.

It does require a lot of money to make a good sci-fi TV show. I understand Firefly was a million dollars an episode, whereas your game shows and your reality TV shows don't even have to pay for actors or many sets. Hence the popularity of the later among TV networks.

Re:What does this mean for the future of televisio (1)

UWC (664779) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750098)

It doesn't require lots of money to make a good TV show. You have been brainwashed into thinking a good show has to have famous people and a huge budget.

If a show is good and gains popularity, it will attract more advertising dollars. If a portion of those extra dollars is not then forwarded to those responsible for the show's quality, there seems to be a bit of unfairness there. Unless some Creative Commons analog of television evolves in which copies of the shows are distributed for free to those who don't wish to pay, the corporate incentive (which is currently the incentive that matters) for producing good shows will always be money, and if you advocate any sort of fairness, those that make (rather than own) the show should be compensated accordingly. Of course, this is assuming that "good" necessarily results in "popular," which I suppose is not an assumption that can seriously be made looking at the current state of most popular television. That situation is an entirely different subject, though. For the purposes of this post, I'll use "good" as functionally synonymous to "having a large viewership," since generally even a great show will not be produced for long without satisfactory ratings, regardless of its production cost--if a more expensive but also more popular show can be aired in its place, it will be.

What are you saying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11750138)

"If a portion of those extra dollars is not then forwarded to those responsible for the show's quality, there seems to be a bit of unfairness there."

Its not clear what you're saying.

Are you claiming that if people copy shows and pass them around, they're depriving somebody of money? Describe how that happens, keeping in mind that the show is broadcast for anyone to tape and watch.

Sorry. I don't see the loss at all. I'm not being devil's advocate here. I just don't see anyone deprived of anything.

Re:What does this mean for the future of televisio (4, Insightful)

The Snowman (116231) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749952)

Advertisers are no longer willing to pay top dollar for airtime out of fear that their commercials will not be watched, prompting an exec to compare fast-forwarding to theft of service in a fit of hyperbole.

I pay over $80 a month for cable service. I get analog channels, digital channels, digital music/radio channels, and HDTV. I watch, at most, two hours a week. At $40 per hour, fuck the commercials, I should be able to do what I want with TV as long as I don't disobey copyrights. I.e. time shifting and moving it to a different devices (e.g. my computer) should be perfectly legal, FCC be damned.

First they get upset when Janet shows an ugly boob, nevermind that 99% of the population either has boobs or gets to see them on a regular basis, then they try to make it illegal for me to use content I pay for how I choose. I think the FCC needs to go bye bye. They have long overlived their usefulness. Deregulate!

Re:What does this mean for the future of televisio (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11750090)

First off, two hours a week equates to $10/hour. Second your $10 wouldn't pay the catering bill for a production company to produce one hour of television for you. Nor does it pay the cost of maintenance on the infrastructure that carries shit to your house. Nor does it pay for the satellite costs. Can you see the point? There's a lot of cost and merely because you're not effectively using your money, doesn't change the fact that it costs a lot to get tv and related services into your home.

Second, I don't think they are changing anything in what you paid for. The content you receive and your limitations on how that is used are much the same as they were (excepting timeshifting.) The difference is that they are developing technologies to enforce their prior conditions.

Finally, fuck deregulation. Deregulation is merely a way to tell the rich fuckers to go ahead and fuck the poor fuckers up the ass. Regulation is critical.

What a silly argument (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11750171)

"Second your $10 wouldn't pay the catering bill for a production company to produce one hour of television for you"

By that silly reasoning, a loaf of bread should cost $10M, because you can't set up a factory, hire workers, and ingredients for $2. And cars should cost $1B each, since you can't build factories, do testing and design, pay workers, advertise for just that $25K.

THe gentleman in question isn't claiming that he's paid for the entire show. He's saying he's paid enough money into the entertianment "system" that he should have the right to do with the programs what he wants, short of selling the copyrighted works to someone else.

That's reasonable and fair.

A copyright isn't about guaranteeing income, its about limiting distribution in a very narrow and specific way.

Re:What does this mean for the future of televisio (1, Offtopic)

sabat (23293) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749966)

Try not. Do or do not, there is no try.
-- Dr. Spock, stardate 2822-3.


This has to be a joke, right? It was Yoda who said that, and Mr. Spock is not a Doctor. Dr. Benjamin Spock was a pediatrician whose books were popular in the last century.

Yeah but... (1)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750038)

Mr. Spock is way smarter than Dr. Spock!!!!!


If Dr. Spock learned to mind meld, he'd be a much better child psychiatrist.

Re:What does this mean for the future of televisio (4, Insightful)

Dalroth (85450) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749967)

I pay for HBO. Why? HBO doesn't suck. I also record HBO and watch it later. Why? HBO doesn't suck.

I don't pay for Showtime. Why? Showtime sucks. :)

If Showtime wants to get my business, the first thing they need to do is stop sucking.

Then their problem is solved.

Same applies for all the other networks.

Bryan

Re:What does this mean for the future of televisio (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750114)

OTOH, Showtime shows a lot more late-night soft core pr0n than HBO. HBO would suck in that one regard :)

Re:What does this mean for the future of televisio (2, Insightful)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749981)

Theatrics aside, the cost of quality cable or satellite programming has gone up, but the quality has been on a steady decline because of the loss of ad revenue.

By extension, you could say that the quality has gone down because actors demand sky-high fees, which advertisers are unwilling to pay.

Stardom is ridiculously expensive, it would seem.

Re:What does this mean for the future of televisio (3, Interesting)

Create an Account (841457) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749994)

...the cost of quality cable or satellite programming has gone up, but the quality has been on a steady decline because of the loss of ad revenue.

Another byproduct of this is that we continue to see more advertising per unit of content. I recently discovered that new DVDs have previews at the beginning that I cannot skip. WTF, I already paid them for their content, now I have to have commercials to watch a DVD that I own? Do I really have to rip all of my own DVDs and re-burn them without commercials?

Lame. Very lame.

Re:What does this mean for the future of televisio (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750145)

I have a JVC region 1 DVD player, which I assume is a typical, mainstream player. Although it won't let me FF through previews, it does let me get around them in a way...perhaps it will work for you:

When the commercials start, press the stop button, taking you to the player's "standby" screen. Pressing play (or is it the menu button) then takes me into the film's main menu.

Re:What does this mean for the future of televisio (4, Insightful)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749996)

This is not the case. The quality of TV has gone down because the producers have realised that people will watch any old rubbish.

Realistically, very few people can be bothered with this. Long ago, VHS could be used to record programs and skip the ads. My SO still does this. Personally, I dont watch the box, because aside from a couple of car adverts, its not worth watching anyway.

My teenage kids complained last weekthat daytime TV causes brain damage in their friends and relatives.

Advertisers WILL pay if the adverts result in sales, and wont pay otherwise. If they think TiVo is the problem then they will soon wise up. "Days of our Lives" is the problem.

Re:What does this mean for the future of televisio (5, Insightful)

SoCalChris (573049) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750003)

As much as I hate to play devil's advocate, the rampant adoption of PVRs has left television in a sad state.

PVRs have nothing to do with people watching less commercials. There are more things to do now than there were 20 years ago. TV is now competing directly with console games, computer games and the internet.

the quality has been on a steady decline because of the loss of ad revenue

Originally, cable tv was advertised as being commercial free. Then the providers got greedy, and started sticking ads in. So in reality, their ad revenue is far higher than what they were originally getting.

the cost of quality cable or satellite programming has gone up

Television has NEVER been about quality programming. It's about putting on whatever people will watch. Besides, I'd argue that the tv choices now are far better than they were 20 years ago. Now at least we've got the History Channel, Learning Channel, Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel, etc...

Re:What does this mean for the future of televisio (1)

Crystalmonkey (743087) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750011)

And with Hitler in charge the trains were always on time.

" The FCC decision like most of their actions was made to preserve the standard of service that we've grown accustomed to..."

The government is trying to keep the industry the way it was, because the corporations are unwilling to change their business model.

There are plenty of people on /. that say the RIAA is using an archaic business model, and this is the same situation.

Re:What does this mean for the future of televisio (1)

IWannaBeAnAC (653701) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750013)

Maybe you have a point. But with a sig like that it is not possible to take you seriously ;)

Re:What does this mean for the future of televisio (5, Interesting)

GMFTatsujin (239569) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750033)

And yet, I can't bring myself to believe that if the broadcast flag were to become a mandated reality, then studios would suddenly unleash the full potential of their creative entertainment genuis on us at last. "Now at last that piracy has been defeated, we can afford to put quality television on the air once more!" -- I doubt it.

It's in their best interests to present a facade of barely treading water all the time. That means that even if they get their way with the broadcast flag, some new evil will appear that they have to be seen to chase down.

The BF is a DODGE, guys.

say wha? (1)

MattW (97290) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750034)

Prove it.

TV has always been a mixed bag. Quality is not in a decline; the vast majority of TV has always been insipid.

The "good" TV is now found on channels you pay for. HBO and Showtime are producing the cutting edge shows, which is why they tend to dominate the awards for the segment. Meanwhile, they're not showing any ads at all.

The DVD aftermarket, meanwhile, is becoming a driving force for TV development. In the end, the amount that networks pay for shows will be lower - probably down well under their development and production costs - and production companies will make that up on DVD sales. Instead of networks bearing the risk, production companies will bear the risk and reap the rewards of TV development. And we (consumers of entertainment) will reap the rewards, because people may watch bad TV, but they don't buy bad TV on DVD.

The FCC decision, meanwhile, had nothing to do with quality of TV. After all, there's more money in TV than ever - there's just fewer mass markets. The FCC just wants their broadcast bandwidth back, and they're under pressure from entertainment providers who can't handle the evolution occurring in the industry.

Re:What does this mean for the future of televisio (1)

rjelks (635588) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750036)

All I know is that 10 years ago I paid about 12 bucks for cable. Somehow, my current bill is around $100 bucks. I've got cooler features I don't need and a lot more channels I don't want. Doesn't some of that money go towards cable programming? I don't see how it's different from people taping a show and skipping the commercials.

Okay, I do use the PVR all of the time...and come to think of it, I'll delay watching a program for 10-20 minutes just to avoid commercials. Some of the extra money I'm spending on cable has to make up the difference on the commercials. How much one viewer watching commercials worth per hour? $0.25, $0.50, $1.00??

Rant (4, Insightful)

rjelks (635588) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750087)

One more thing...when did we except the 10 minutes of commercials that happen before a movie?? Remember when it was just some previews and some dancing peanuts? I thought the ticket bought the experience. I can deal with subtle product placement, but how much are the 5-10 commercials worth to the advertisers?

Back to TV: How much would you pay to remove commercials from the broadcast? Everyone will benefit from legal, commercial-free, TV downloads. /rant off

Re:What does this mean for the future of televisio (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750044)

What fraction of TV watchers own a PVR? I mean real estimates based on a broad poll, not an informal anecdote of how many people you know has one vs. don't. Another issue is that maybe PVRs are showing advertisers that they don't need to spend top dollar on a prime time slot if what people are watching is from some other time.

There are plenty of great TV shows that don't cost much to make. The problem is that people see fancy FX or well-known actors and they think ths show is good. It's like the blockbuster movies. $200M spent to make the movie, but only $100 spent to write it.

Re:What does this mean for the future of televisio (5, Interesting)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750055)

> Theatrics aside, the cost of quality cable or satellite programming has gone up, but the quality has been on a steady decline because of the loss of ad revenue. The FCC decision like most of their actions was made to preserve the standard of service that we've grown accustomed to, and one wonders if it will be worth recording if there is nothing at all to record.

I respectfully disagree.

The cost of delivering programming has dropped drastically, but the number of eyeballs on screens (and consequently, total advertising dollars) have remained relatively constant.

Furthermore, the ease of delivering content has meant that there are less advertising dollars available for any given hour of content.

The requirement that shareholders get a return on their investments has consequently to a need to reduce the cost of creating said programming.

We saw this when we went from a 3-channel (ABC, NBC, CBS) universe to a 50-channel (+47 channels of cable) universe. Mainstream "news" programming got the axe; why have a foreign bureau and an investigative team for 2 hours a night when you can do 15 minutes of soundbites, 15 minutes of sports, 15 minutes of weather, and 15 minutes of advertorials made to look like "human interest" or "your health" stories, freeing up the second hour per night for a couple of sitcoms?

Now that we're moving from a 50-channel universe (ABCBSNBCNNESPBSNFOXNickSciFiDiscovery and a whole bunch of other names you'll recognize) to a 500-channel universe ([thumbing through the "D"s... Discovery Homes. Discovery Queer Eye. Discovery Paranormal. Discovery Quadrupeds. Discovery Plants. Discovery Avians ... [flipflip] Disney Ages 0-2...), we have the same problem again.

And we see the same result: Cut the cost of production, shifting to reality shows over stuff that requires expensive scriptwriters, content licenses, and/or (pen/ink/CGI) animators.

You'll get this result regardless of whether you have a PVR or not. You cannot watch more than 24 hours of TV (that is, 8 hours of advertisements) in a day. The value of an ad placed on Disney Nostalgia Channel Males Aged 30-49 is going to be less than "Behind the Wonderful World of Disney: Annette Funicello Does Disneyland" on ABC in a 3-channel universe.)

Re:What does this mean for the future of televisio (1)

SomePoorSchmuck (183775) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750071)

one wonders if it will be worth recording if there is nothing at all to record.

Thank you, you've made my day. I can only pray that your fears come to pass, and one day television will be stripped of the extravagant sorcery which allows it to displace reality.

Re:What does this mean for the future of televisio (1)

Snommis (861843) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750103)

I agree in part, but I pay for my TV (DirecTV, that is). Advertisements will always be there - in fact, more that ever. They just work them into the shows via product placement. Maybe the age of the "30-second spot" is over, and other advertisement should take it's place.

Ad-blocker fo TVs, anyone? Picture a plain white cylinder with red "X" in the hand of an actor in place of a Pepsi...

Re:What does this mean for the future of televisio (1)

normal_guy (676813) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750135)

The industry has not yet caught up with the technology, a common state of affairs. The FCC may have had comsumers in mind when bowing to content industry pressure, but that industry had only one point of view. Surely Sony, Tivo, etc. and the consumers themselves have something else to say about how we really want to watch TV. If the FCC can regulate the broadcast flag or HDTV itself, why couldn't it demand PVR manufacturers to automatically record timeshift-specific ads broadcast in the HD subchannels. Same flagging idea, but with time range and channel stamped.

Eyes on the Prize (5, Insightful)

Concern (819622) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749883)

This article is terribly vague, and it is important to note that this is NOT a ruling but what appears to be a comment (albeit a singificant, loaded one) by a judge during arguments. Still, if I put my legal spectator hat on, it does indeed look like the broadcast flag is in jeopardy.

Frankly I was kind of hoping they would try and implement it. The outcry would have been huge, and good for the larger cause.

The content trust always seems to have a pistol target on their foot, but they miss (or chicken out of their "best" ideas) too often. I was kind of looking forward to watching 300 million Americans simultaneously learn that the VCR was now illegal (metaphorically speaking), and that they now record television only at the whim of the broadcaster.

The big picture is the DMCA and the "information warfare" underpinning it. I have no idea why anybody thinks we should become an Orwellian state just so that copyright can be enforced marginally better, but then again maybe nobody does. This sometimes feels like a negotiating process. Look, we'll threaten this outrageous thing, and then this only awful thing doesn't look as bad. Or, we'll give you this minor victory (broadcast flag) and then you'll be satisfied to live in your cage.

We are actively negotiating our culture at this point. How we think about media is up for grabs. Do we think about it as something a content creator should be allowed to control to the extent of broadcast flags enforced by federal agents? Or is it something more like it's always been. Simple, de-facto free.

Actually, I don't care about a company that wants to try some crazy DRM scheme. I say let them try all they want. But what I care about is when the government and police step in to try to protect it or enforce it, let alone to the extent of chilling or even censoring speech. That's ridiculous. If users break the protection and it fails in the marketplace, OK, it was just a bad idea. It's absurd to use law enforcement to invent and prop up some nutty business model that shouldn't exist.

Good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11749884)

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be prepared [slashdot.org] , just in case...

Finally! (1)

keno1929 (468406) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749885)

Wow, something that resembles intellagence comes out of the courts. Maybe this will be a new year full of good court rulings.

FCC sends reply (5, Funny)

Crystalmonkey (743087) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749898)

In other late breaking news, the FCC has issued the following statement: "We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills." Shortly afterwards, the RIAA responded with a subpeona, claiming the FCC stole this trademark speech from a copywrighted artist. The FCC was unavailable for comment.

restrictions slow adoption (2, Insightful)

quewhatque (806311) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749903)

"The FCC has said copyright protections are needed to help speed the adoption of digital television."

a more free environment of being able to copy and "mess with" digital broadcasts would allow more consumers to do more with what they have bought.

How would restrictions such as the broadcast flag and this about digital TVs speed up adoption amongst the public?
The only way I can see this speeding up adoption is some companies and groups (such as the MPAA) would be more readily accepting of it because their copyrights are more protected, but not to end consumers.

Re:restrictions slow adoption (1)

coyotecult (647958) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750059)

If the groups don't want to produce the content due to lack of copyright protections, there won't be any digital television content to adopt maybe? And what consumer is going to want to adopt it if nobody's making shows on it?

I hate the broadcast flag, but I can see why they're saying it even if I don't really agree.

Re:restrictions slow adoption (1)

gubbas (651881) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750085)

One would also think that if you lifted restrictions for local competition of cable that too would speed the adoption of digital. Look how long it took the FCC to agree that local channels could be broadcast on satilite providers. Maybe the FCC should promote free enterprise instead of limit fair use.

It may take another suit to stop the ruling (1)

MattW (97290) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749906)

But it was unclear whether the judges would strike down the FCC's 2003 rule, since doubts were also raised about whether the American Library Association and other opponents had legal standing to challenge the rule in court.

Which means that someone...say, a consumer, aided by the EFF... may need to file a suit to follow up this one in order to stop this land grab of consumer rights to be stopped.

Dream day! (3, Insightful)

mboverload (657893) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749912)

Once again the judicial branch is the ONLY branch of government with ANY respect for the common citizen. What a PATHETIC display.

Re:Dream day! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11750015)

You've obviously never had someone close to you involved in any kind of court proceeding. Judges are people too and have the same prejudices and predilicitions as anybody else.

So what.....? (4, Insightful)

mjb (8536) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749914)

Even if the court strikes it down entirely, it'll
take the big media lobby about 30 seconds to kick
their congress-lackeys in the ass and get a law
passed to state exactly what they want/need.

Re:So what.....? (3, Funny)

gubbas (651881) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750042)

I'm sorry, I hit my 30 second skip button... what did you say?

Not if you vote (4, Insightful)

bluGill (862) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750051)

Seriously, money only works in politics so long as you let it. When you inform yourself of the issues and then go vote you start to change that. When you go one more and talk about issues you start scaring politicians. Go one more step and join a party can get your issues on the platform and the money works for you.

Sit on slashdot and whine about congress, corruption, and big money - you loose.

just over the internet? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11749915)

I can still copy digital TV shows, burn them on CDs and mail 'em to all my friends right? Phhhhew!

Maybe i should burn a CD of episodes of The West Wing and mail it to everyone on the board of the FCC and every member of congress...how do you think that'd go over?

Why? (1)

glitch0 (859137) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749919)

Why is every cable company moving to digital tv? In my experience, digital isn't really that much higher quality than analog.

The only reason I can think of is to control the media. If its digital, it allows for things like the Broadcast Flag, whereas with analog thats not possible.

Re:Why? (1)

Effugas (2378) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749985)

Same bandwidth, 4x or more the channels. Not complex.

Re:Why? (1)

FerretFrottage (714136) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750024)

Plus the cable companies have figured out a way to sell/rent you additional receivers in order to watch a different channel in a different room (much like satellite) with digital transmission. Once they go pure digital, you'll no longer be able to run 5+ TVs off an analog cable signal with just a splitter.

Re:Why? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750115)

Yes, well, Dish and Direct have been doing that with satellite receivers since day one.

Re:Why? (2, Informative)

Phil Karn (14620) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750134)

The obvious answer: because they can cram in far more channels with digital than with analog, and thereby sell more commercial time.

It's amazing how many digital music services still use the line "CD-quality" to describe their programs when the original CD data has been heavily compressed. It may (or may not) sound reasonably good, but by definition it is not "CD quality".

The content cartel has no trouble spooking Congress with this "CD-quality" line when they wring their hands about peer-to-peer filesharing, even though the vast majority of music and movie files on P2P are very heavily compressed. Even the legal, for-pay services like iTunes and eMusic compress heavily. (There are a few notable exceptions, such as Magnatune, which make FLAC files available for download.)

The content cartel even managed a few years back to convince Congress to add "digital transmission" to the list of rights reserved to the copyright holder, over and above those that apply to ordinary analog broadcasting. This has resulted in substantially higher royalty rates for digital music broadcasters. Perhaps somebody should point this out to any Congressmen still wondering why digital broadcasting hasn't taken off yet.

The perfect crime (5, Insightful)

kawika (87069) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749944)

They say the FCC doesn't have the right, but they won't stop it because the "wrong people" brought the suit? AAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGHHHHH!!

If the court would just have stopped the imposition of the July deadline we could at least have found the right people to bring this suit. As is, I'm afraid that once "broadcast flag enabled" hardware goes on sale it will be hard to change.

Re:The perfect crime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11750092)

What if they could get a tuner card maker to join in the suit & say what a PITA complying with that law would be, the particular harm being having to do R&D to make a card that listens to that silly thing?

Okay, so most of them probably won't, but wastn't there a group or two who developed some open source type card who might be sympathetic to this position? Or am I just dreaming here?

Digital implants (1)

WickedClean (230550) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749977)

How long til the FCC requires that we all get digital implants in our eyes with Authorization codes that allow us to look at ANYTHING?

the fcc rule aims to limit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11749989)

Truer words were never said, Captain Obvious!

April already? (1)

IAmTheDave (746256) | more than 9 years ago | (#11749990)

Is it April 1? I mean, I just woke up from a nap, but I didn't think I was asleep for that long...

That clicking noise you hear... (5, Funny)

14erCleaner (745600) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750010)

...is the sound of thousands of geeks cancelling their orders for broadcast-flag-free tuner cards.

Re:That clicking noise you hear... (1)

IWannaBeAnAC (653701) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750112)

..is the sound of thousands of geeks cancelling their orders for broadcast-flag-free tuner cards.

Huh? You mean, if the FCC loses, then thousands of geeks would instead order a tuner card with a broadcast flag?

woot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11750023)

(woot)

Good news bad news... (5, Insightful)

sterno (16320) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750040)

The problem here is that, though it appears the court would be favorable to shutting down the broadcast flag, the ALA may not have legal standing. So, the question is: who would?

They are arguing that they are consumers and as consumers they are harmed. They go on the theory that this action will increase costs, etc, which I'm not sure there's a legitimate basis for.

Really where the costs come in is in vendors who develop software/hardware that would be required to implement recognition of this flag. So you'd have to find a hardware manufacturer that was willing to fight it out. The problem is that a lot of the hardware manufacturers have ties to media, so they have a strong disincentive to mess with it.

Donate now. (0)

Grabble (91256) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750046)


Novemember 4 made me feel like a hopeless, voiceless shit. EFF makes that feeling go away a little.

Donate now [eff.org] . I just did. I'll wear my t-shirt with pride.

Talk without action is delusion.

Here's an impressive list of their legal victories [eff.org] funded by my/your donations.

This is really huge.

Re:Donate now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11750161)

Novemember 4 made me feel like a hopeless, voiceless shit.

I joined the ACLU for the same reason. Fuck it, if I can't vote with my votes, I'll vote with my dollars and put some mean lawyers in there.

All I can say is good luck. (1)

My_guzzi (306998) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750052)

I know I am older that the majority of /. Readers. What we have here is the last of the court rulings in favor of freedom and the limiting of special interest paid for by cash. Mickey mouse inc will fill the cash trough in Washington DC ( the whole hill will come to feed) and will get what ever copyright legislation passed they want. I am afraid that we are screwed. BTW did you vote in the last election?? I did.

I'm So Relieved (1)

SteelV (839704) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750140)

I have not watched a commercial since I got my Moxi DVR several months ago. I don't own it, Adelphia does, and I was dreading the day when they would come and take it back, saying that DVRs were no longer allowed!

Hopefully this decision slows down the FCC a bit, and lets me keep watching TV commercial free!

The one downside I've noticed, though, is that I miss some interesting commercials. The new T.V. show coming up, The Contender, looks interesting, but I hadn't heard about it because I didn't see more than the flashed title as I was flying through the blitz of commercials! Wonder how much else I'm missing...
Probably not much?

Fair Use (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11750175)

If I record a show on my old VCR, which is wearing out, and I then download a good copy from the Internet am I doing something illegal?

Chief Judge Harry Edwards (5, Insightful)

maotx (765127) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750177)

It's nice to see a Judge stand up for what he believes is the best for the people and what he believes is right without allowing the, I'm sure, intense pressure affect his decision. I wish more Judges had his perspective.

Just a little background about the Judge who told the FCC that they "crossed the line":
Chief Judge Harry Edwards
Born: New York, New York-November 3, 1940
His grandfather, a lawyer, had the most influence on him growing up and taught him several lessons for life. A speech by Marian Wright Edelman, as he describes, is fairly similar to his grandfather's lessons.

  • LESSON I: No person has a right to feel entitled to anything for which he has not worked. Frederick Douglass once said that "men may not get all they pay for in this world, but they must certainly pay for all they get." Even the most talented among us must struggle to achieve. Probably the most important thing that my grandfather ever told me was that I should never have to rely on anyone else to assess my work. What he meant was that, if I kept my standards high enough, I always would be my own most severe critic, and I would never kid myself about the quality or significance of my work.
  • LESSON II: Never work just for money. In amplifying on this point, my mother used to tell me that money alone does not give satisfaction, nor does it prove personal worth. We see this every day, for we are the richest nation on earth, yet we have among the highest rates of incarceration, drug addiction, and child poverty in the world.
  • LESSON III: Do not be afraid of taking risks or of being criticized, especially in defense of goodness or in pursuit of justice. And, as my grandfather said, never be afraid of making mistakes; it is the way you learn to do things right. Dr. Benjamin Mays, the former President of Morehouse College, said it best: "It's not failure that is a sin, it's low aim."
  • LESSON IV: In a decent society, the fellowship of human beings is more important than the fellowship of race and class and gender. This moral precept was a principal teaching of Dr. Martin Luther King.


Pulled from here [jtbf.org]
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