[mythtv-users] Broadcast Flag Article mentions MythTV and quotes
shawn-myth at willden.org
Fri Mar 4 15:33:34 UTC 2005
Andy Long wrote:
>No, this is not "rightly" something that media companies should be
>allowed to prevent. Under current law, they CAN'T prevent it. It is
>perfectly legal of you to lend a copy of a movie/TV show to a friend
>to borrow and watch.
Unfortunately, it's not clear that this is true.
IANAL, but I have read Title 17 a few times and I have done a little
As I understand it, the "black-letter law" doesn't explicitly provide
for sharing. Instead, it defines a vague category of Fair Use, with a
four-part test courts have to use to decide if a particular copying or
derivative work-creation activity is Fair Use.
Recording a show off of the TV and sharing it with a limited number of
friends, without commercial gain was basically determined to be Fair Use
by the US Supreme Court in the Betamax decision in 1984. Sony argued
that although the law didn't say this sort of use was legal, that a
tradition had been established by audio cassette recorders. The
argument was upheld by the District court, reversed on appeal and then
re-upheld by the USSC.
That Betamax decision, plus the First Sale doctrine, is the basis for
the argument that you can copy a broadcast and loan it to a friend.
However, that was in 1984. Copyright law has changed twice since then,
with the passage of the CTEA and the DMCA. I don't know if any
provisions of the CTEA affect this, but the DMCA certainly does. If the
courts were to decide that the broadcast flag is a "copy-protection
device", then manufacturing and selling any device that "circumvents" it
would be illegal. There are no Fair Use exceptions to the
anti-circumvention provisions in current copyright law.
And what's worse is that even though the courts look to be slapping down
the FCC's decision to implement and enforce the Broadcast Flag, on the
grounds that the FCC is not authorized to make law, only implement it,
Big Media might still be able to get it by going back to Congress. They
tried that once, and it didn't take, but that doesn't mean they won't
That means that it's *very* important right now that everyone who cares
about this issue be pushing the meme that it *should* be okay to copy
broadcast TV shows (as long as you're not doing it commercially, or for
"group" showings -- I think those are reasonable restrictions). We need
to make sure that every American "knows" that it's okay so that when the
question goes back to Congress, we'll have some support.
And it's also important to support the Digital Consumer's Bill of Rights
(digitalconsumer.org). Getting that passed would put all of these fears
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