Foundation Releases Transcript of Congressional Briefing
WASHINGTON, D.C. - With copyright protection and the broadcast flag near the top of Washington’s digital policy agenda, a panel of experts met recently to discuss options for future regulatory and legislative action. The Progress & Freedom Foundation, which hosted the event, is releasing a transcript of the exchange in order to provide policymakers with a balanced assessment.
Participants included Rick Chessen, associate chief, FCC Media Bureau and chair of the Digital Television Task Force; Mike Godwin, senior technology counsel at Public Knowledge; Fritz Attaway, EVP and Washington general counsel, Motion Picture Association of America and Robert D. Atkinson, VP, the Progressive Policy Institute. William F. Adkinson, Jr., senior policy counsel at the Foundation, moderated.
Millions of people illegally copy files over the Internet; content owners have responded with lawsuits against “file-sharing” systems and their users. The main alternative to copyright liability is the adoption of technological protection mechanisms. In October, the FCC ordered that, starting with the 2005 product cycle, all digital televisions and related equipment recognize and comply with the broadcast flag – a digital code to limit redistribution of over-the-air broadcasts.
Atkinson listed three principles: “One is we can’t ever eliminate piracy…that’s a fool’s errand.” Second, he cautioned, “this is all about balance.” Third, he said “stress should be placed…on going after the people who are illegally copying music.” Chessen underscored the need for copy protection and sought to clear up “misconceptions” about the FCC decision: “This is not somehow limiting the ability to copy [or] restricting Internet transmission per se, but about finding ways to stop massive Internet redistribution. For existing equipment, people don’t have to do anything.” Godwin questioned the broadcast flag: “If we are going to regulate to protect broadcasting, we have to come up with regulations that actually work, that actually are effective, that rely to the greatest extend possible on market efficiencies, that equitably allocate the costs, and that are in other respects, as minimal as possible.” Attaway got right to the point: “The real issue here is whether over-the-air broadcast television should have the same protection that is already afforded to cable and satellite delivery systems. The real issue here is parity.” The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the impact of the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.