Critics slam broadcasters' DTV copy-protection plan

Imposing the broadcast industry's preferred digital copy-protection
technology will stifle innovation of better technology and won't provide
adequate protection against illegal distribution over the Internet, critics of
the "broadcast flag" are telling the Federal Communications Commission.

"Implementation is made difficult by the complex and ever-evolving nature of
the technologies," said the IT Coalition, which includes Apple Computer Inc., IBM Corp., Intel Corp.,
Microsoft Corp. and Motorola Inc.

Rather than imposing the flag, the coalition said, the FCC should permit
broadcasters to encrypt digital-TV signals as the transmission site.

As for set rules, the coalition said, the FCC has no evidence showing that the lack of
a copy-protection regimen is dissuading programmers from offering digital-TV programs.

"Indeed, the fall 2002 lineup of network programming is replete with digital
programming," the groups said in comments filed this week.

Others opposed a broadcast-flag mandate, too. TiVo Inc., maker of personal video
recorders that store digital copies of programs, said its security measures are
stronger than the flag.

If the flag is mandated, however, TiVo said, no copy restrictions should be
placed on any devices within a home. Even programs that forbid any duplication
outside a viewer's home network must allow unlimited copying among the viewer's
collection of TVs, PCs and PVRs.

Broadcasters and Hollywood said the flag is the best technology available now to
prevent unauthorized copying. Without the protection, stations will not have
access to new movies and other high-quality content because producers won't
risk letting them be duplicated infinitely on the Internet.