Sunday, March 05, 2006

House introduces mandatory radio-crippling law
House introduces mandatory radio-crippling law

Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-N.J.) has introduced a bill to cripple all digital radios. The Audio Broadcast Flag Licensing Act of 2006 (H.R. 4861) requires all digital radio makers to build their devices so that they only permit "customary uses" of broadcasts. That means that no one ever gets to invent any new radio tech ever again unless the RIAA approves of it. Finally, it requires radio device makers to cripple their products to prohibit "unauthorized copying" -- which is a lot more broad than "illegal copying." As we've heard, the RIAA's position is that no copying is implicitly authorized -- they don't even think you should be allowed to rip your CDs.

Fergusun is committing political suicide. No constituent of Fergusun's woke up this morning wishing for a way to do less with her radio. There's no manufacturer who can sell more radios by advertising "Now! With fewer features!" This is a bill to steal from tomorrow's entrepreneurs, who'll never get to invent the next generation of awesome music tech, in order to line the pockets of yesterday's recording industry fatcats.

For a picture of what the RIAA considers permissible, take a look at the comments they filed with the FCC on this topic back in 2004. Here's the list of restrictions they asked for then:

* Receivers may only record or permit recording of covered content: (a) in direct and immediate response to a consumer pressing a record button; (b) based on a date and time preprogrammed by the consumer.

* Preprogrammed recordings shall be for a minimum period of 30 minutes in duration.

* A replay buffer may be used to initiate a recording of a previously broadcast transmission provided that the buffer does not exceed 30 minutes in duration.

* Each recording of covered content shall be stored and retrieved as a singe continuous session and may not be divided into recordings of individual songs on an automated or non-automated basis using ID information or audio characteristics...


Update: Nathan sez, "A grassroots group here in NJ started a federal PAC called Blue 7th PAC that is geared towards defeating Mike Ferguson in the 2006 election, and this is just another reason to go after him. We created the blog, target letters to the editor, raise money for area candidates, hold candidates nights, publish fact sheets, and have an e-mail list of about 1200 people. We think that a small, targeted PAC of local folks can do a lot to change the results of an election."