Thursday, February 24, 2005

Hail to the Flag, It's the 1st of July

My INDICARE article was just published online: Hail to the flag, It's the 1st of July. It's a bit of a basic roundup of the argumentation against the broadcast flag, with some European elements. I'll give you the introduction and bottom line. Between those an insufficient security regime, trampeled user interests, and innovation under pressure.

Bells ring-a-lingin’, firecrackers poppin’
Lighting up the sky
Hail to the flag, It’s the 4th of July

Roger Miller – The 4th of July

Three days before Americans celebrate Independence Day and salute their flag in a display of fireworks, another flag will be introduced with less fanfare: the broadcast flag. This flag is not about independence, but will have to be saluted nonetheless. In order to protect digital over-the-air television signals against unauthorized (re)distribution, especially via p2p networks, all devices capable of receiving these signals will become dependent on the broadcast flag regime and its executioners. For users of digital television content and manufacturers of consumer devices the 1st of July will be marked as "Dependence Day".
Bottom line:
The fear of content producers of commercial harm by unauthorized redistribution of content they provide may be legitimate. Through the broadcast flag (video) content producers do not only try to protect their content, but also their existing business models. The video content industry has sought to project its incumbent network model on the internet and other developing technologies. Both innovation and user interests may be trampled in the process. Exemplary of this projection is what a representative of Hewlett-Packard had to say over an FCC approved content protection measure: "While developing the Video Content Protection System, we continually kept the perspective of the person sitting in their living room watching TV as a dominant part of the equation" (see PhysOrg 2005). This is the image of the consumer as couch potato, locked-in to his home network, dependent on the will of an incumbent industry, which sets the rules for the future.


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