DigitalConsumer.org Statement on Tauzin Bill Draft
Palo Alto, Calif. -- September 19, 2002 -- Digitalconsumer.org
today issued the following statement regarding Chairman Tauzinís
"digital television" bill draft that was issued late on Wednesday:
We are extremely disappointed in Chairman Tauzinís bill draft that
was released today. We oppose this legislation because it restricts
usersí rights to fair use and stifles innovation.
We oppose the legislation for four main reasons:
- The broadcast flag is fundamentally anti-consumer. The
bill asserts that fair-use will be protected while at the same time
providing content providers with bulletproof piracy protection. But no
such technology exists to meet both of these goals, and the content
companies who architected this bill have admitted that fair use must
be sacrificed whenever it comes into conflict with "robust" content
protection. In addition, the bill draft requires that no analog ports
be put on digital television devices after July 1, 2005. The impact of
this is that existing VCRís, most of which are analog, will not
work with digital televisions produced after July 1, 2005.
- The bill is Hollings for TV. We disagree with the
principle of the bill -- the idea that the federal government should
mandate and perennially regulate the development, feature set, and
behavior of millions of consumer electronics devices. This mandate
would affect how consumers watch, record, enjoy and manipulate
television. The government is ill equipped to manage the growth and
development of fast-moving technology. Our countryís technological
success depends on a fast-moving competitive market, not a ponderous
- Federal regulation of the consumersí family room. This
bill draft would give an un-elected, unaccountable federal bureaucracy
the authority to dictate the use of the devices in a consumersí
family room. Today consumers control their TVs, DVD players, and VCRs.
The federal government, through this bill, will cede control of those
devices to media companies that have no interest in fair use. This
gives the entertainment industry the legal authority to take away fair
use rights and then sell a limited set of those rights back to the
consumer. We believe federal regulation at this level is both
unnecessary and inappropriate.
- Gravestone for innovation, January 1, 2006. The bill draft
marks January 1, 2006 as the date on which all devices have to respect
the broadcast flag. The mandated DRM system will have certain rules
about which uses are allowed and which uses are prohibited. These
rules essentially "lock in" state of technology. If a new technology
comes along that requires a different behavior than that of the
deployed DRM system, that new technology will not be permitted.
Imagine if similar legislation had been passed before the VCR --
because no one had yet thought of saving a TV show to tape, the fair
use of time-shifting would not have been built into the rules. But
once the rules have been locked into millions of TVs, it is nearly
impossible to change them.
Digitalconsumer.org is a consumer-advocacy group started in 2001 with
a mission to restore the balance of copyright law so that artists and
creators can prosper while citizens have reasonable flexibility to use
content in fair and legal ways. The group is composed of
entrepreneurs, investors and consumers, and it is proposing a set of
principles - a Consumer Technology Bill of Rights - that it intends to
have passed into law. These principles would preserve consumers'
historic fair-use rights that have been recently diminished by changes
in copyright law made at the request of media companies. To learn more
about the Consumer Technology Bill of Rights, please visit: