The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled Friday that the Federal Communications Commission did not have the authority to prohibit the manufacture of computer and video hardware that doesn't have copy protection technology known as the "broadcast flag." The regulations, which the FCC created in November 2003, had been intended to limit unauthorized Internet redistribution of over-the-air TV broadcasts.fire up the TIVO.
The reason why this is significant is that it is a recognition that the creation of technology trumps the right of broadcasters to limit the sharing of material they put over the public airwaves. Essentially, the FCC wanted to require a bit of "code" to be inserted in any digital broadcast which would tell all compliant devices to turn off any ability to copy or share the material accompanied by the flag.
By denying the FCC's jurisdiction the Court of Appeal affirmed the principle that you can build whatever you want and it is up to the owner of the material to protect that material.
Given the convergence between computers and television this is a critical decision as it will allow the computer business to continue to engineer for its users without having to cripple machines to comply with a digital rights management regime.
"You're out there in the whole world, regulating. Are washing machines next?" asked Judge Harry Edwards. Quipped Judge David Sentelle: "You can't regulate washing machines. You can't rule the world."