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TV stations want in on copy protection

TV stations could get help from the Warren court in their fight for digital
copy protection.

Broadcasters have long feared exclusion from copy-protection agreements
between studios, manufacturers and cable. Now that the studios have agreed to
include broadcasters, a big question is whether the government has the authority
to insist on programming security.

A 1968 Supreme Court decision barring cable systems from importing distant
network signals instead of local affiliates offers sufficient precedent,
according to The Walt Disney Co., Fox, Viacom Inc., Sony Corp.,
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. and Vivendi Universal SA.

In a memo drafted at the Federal Communications Commission's request, they
said the need to protect free over-the-air TV justified the importation ban,
despite the lack of specific congressional orders to impose the restriction.

'The redistribution protection . similarly comes at a critical juncture,' the
groups said.

Home-recording-rights advocates, the main opponents of broadcast protections,
appear ready to compromise now that studios and stations are willing to limit
restrictions to Internet duplication rather than personal use.