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POLITICS: Federal appeals court erases FCC recording rules

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posted on May, 7 2005 @ 09:42 AM
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A federal appeals court has issued a stern rebuke to the FCC, and has struck down the FCC regulations that would have made many digital TV receivers and tuner cards illegal. Specifically, since the broadcast flag would only be implemented after the broadcast transmission was completed, the court ruled that the FCC exceeded their authority in issuing the requirements.
 



pacer.cadc.uscourts.gov
In adopting the broadcast flag rules, the FCC cited no specific statutory provision giving the agency authority to regulate consumers’ use of television receiver apparatus after the completion of a broadcast transmission. Rather, the commission relied exclusively on its ancillary jurisdiction under Title I of the Communications Act of 1934.

( . . . . . Edited, see the link)

Therefore, we hold that the Commission acted outside the scope of its delegated authority when it adopted the disputed broadcast flag regulations.

( . . . . . Edited, see the link)

CONCLUSION

The FCC argues that the Commission has “discretion” to exercise “broad authority” over equipment used in connection with radio and wire transmissions, “when the need arises, even if it has not previously regulated in a particular area.” FCC Br. at 17.

This is an extraordinary proposition. “The [Commission’s] position in this case amounts to the bare suggestion that it possesses plenary authority to act within a given area simply because Congress has endowed it with some authority to act in that area. We categorically reject that suggestion.



Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


These requirements were proposed and pushed through the FCC by the MPAA and would have regulated the capability of electronic hardware to copy and play broadcast content.

This is good news for anyone who owns a DVR, or any other digital recording device and would like to control what they record. This is bad news for the recording industry that sees unfettered copying of digital content as an erosion of potential profits on copyrighted product.

The decision is rather long but it clearly indicates the Court's distain for the FCC justification for the rules.


And the agency’s strained and implausible interpretations of the definitional provisions of the Communications Act of 1934 do not lend credence to its position. As the Supreme Court has reminded us, Congress “does not . . . hide elephants in mouseholes.” Whitman v. Am. Trucking Ass’n, 531 U.S. 457, 468 (2001).


In addition, in the oral arguments, the judges clearly found the FCC position weak.

"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."

Edit: For those of you who have commented that you do not like the source link. I would like to point out that that is the actual document published by the court in describing the justification for their decision. You don't get any more original than that. This article is my interpetation of that source information. Not my interpetation of someone elses interpetation. If you still want further information, please see the related news links or just google for it, since it is a fairly important story. Thank you.

Related News Links:
news.com.com
news.com.com
www.wired.com

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posted on May, 7 2005 @ 11:36 AM
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YES. Thank you for this wonderful news, I was reading about this some months ago and awaited the outcome in disgust.

Hopefully this will bring some definition to the scope of the FCC's function and jurisdiction.

Zip



posted on May, 7 2005 @ 05:33 PM
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I'm surprised there isn't more feedback on this article - it is really important. (Not my submission.)


The FCC was becoming a fearsome agency in two ways. Firstly, before this ruling, they maintained that they overlooked all forms of communication within the United States. This monopoly on communication regulation is a danger to our very freedom of speech.

The other problem lies in situations like this - the MPAA throws some support at the FCC and the FCC writes regulations against digital recordings? No way. That's overstepping boundaries.

An agency controlling print, radio, television, and digital communications is outrageous. The regulation of electronic noise is a good - it keeps the public safe and allows the legitimate and exclusive use of broadcast airwaves by competing controllers. Regulating digital industry is none of the FCC's business, though, in my opinion.

Zip



 
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