For Immediate Release
Public Knowledge President Gigi B. Sohn today that draft legislation to give the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authority to control the distribution of digital content would unwisely expand the FCC's power, thwart technological innovation and hurt consumers.
Sohn made her comments in testimony before the House Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property, which conducted a hearing on the “broadcast flag” and other content-control measures. The subcommittee has drafted legislation that would give the FCC the authority to impose digital content controls. Sohn was lead counsel in a case in the U.S. Appeals Court for the D.C. Circuit that successfully challenged the FCC's authority to impose the flag.
She argued that the content controls contemplated by draft legislation covering broadcast digital television and radio would give the FCC “unprecedented control” over technology. As a result, Sohn said, the authority that would be granted to the Commission should not be considered “narrow,” as proponents have claimed.
Sohn told the Subcommittee: “I urge this subcommittee to think very long and hard before granting the FCC broad power to engage in this kind of industrial policy. Ask yourselves, is it good policy to turn the Federal Communications Commission into the Federal Computer Commission or the Federal Copyright Commission?”
The draft proposal to close the so-called “analog hole” – which would prevent consumers from converting digital content analog – is “more intrusive than the broadcast flag,” Sohn said, because every device with an analog connection obey not one, but two copy protection schemes. While the broadcast flag would put the FCC in charge of design control just for technologies that demodulate a broadcast signal, the ACPA would mandate design for every device with an analog connector, including printers, cellphones, camcorders, etc. Like the broadcast flag, it sets in stone a copy protection technology for technologies that are always changing, Sohn said.
Public Knowledge is a public-interest advocacy and education organization that seeks to promote a balanced approach to intellectual property law and technology policy that reflects the “cultural bargain” intended by the framers of the constitution. More information available at: http://www.publicknowledge.org
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