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  1. General
    1. Are you opposed to copyright protection for digital works?
    2. Do you support illegal copying?
    3. So what's the problem?
    4. Isn't the whole point of copyright to protect the rights of authors?
    5. What are some examples of the balance that used to exist?
    6. What are some examples of this shift in the balance of copyright?
  2. Copy Protection
    1. You're joking, right? Of course I can make a copy of a CD or record a TV show!
    2. But how can they stop me from copying a CD?
    3. Can't I always make analog recordings?
    4. Don't we need these "anti-circumvention" laws to protect creative works?
    5. But how do you prevent illegal copying if you allow circumvention technologies?
    6. I don't see what legitimate uses circumvention technology could have. Isn't it just a tool for hackers who want to steal content?
    7. So what can we do about this problem?
  3. The DMCA, SSSCA, and CBDTPA
    1. What is the DMCA?
    2. What's wrong with the DMCA?
    3. What is the CBDTPA (formerly known as the SSSCA)?
    4. What's wrong with the CBDTPA?
    5. Don't these new laws already provide exemptions for fair use?
    6. Couldn't we fix things by adding better exemptions to existing laws?
  4. The BPDG
    1. What is the BPDG?
    2. How would the BPDG's rules work?
    3. What's wrong with the BPDG?
    4. But doesn't the BPDG represent a consensus?
  5. Miscellaneous
    1. Do fair use rights for consumers harm the content industry?
    2. Do fair use rights for consumers harm artists and creators?
    3. Do anti-circumvention copyright laws harm innovation?
    4. But I thought the DMCA had a special exemption for reverse engineering?
    5. Do copyright laws affect libraries?
  6. Alliance For Digital Progress
    1. What is the Alliance for Digital Progress?
    2. Why did DigitalConsumer join ADP?
    3. Some members of ADP support copy-protection technology. Has DigitalConsumer sold out?
    4. How will this impact DigitalConsumer's position on fair use?

4. The BPDG

4.1 What is the BPDG?

The BPDG is the "Broadcast Protection Discussion Group". It is a subgroup of the CPTWG, the "Copy Protection Technology Working Group". The BPDG's charter is to create rules for controlling the redistribution of broadcast television content.

The final draft of the BPDG report.

4.2 How would the BPDG's rules work?

The BPDG proposes a "Broadcast Flag" for digital television (DTV) content. All devices capable of receiving DTV signals would be required by law to obey the flag. If the flag was set, the DTV device would prevent the digital signal from being output to other devices (such as VCRs or DVD recorders) unless the devices implemented secure copy protection.

"The idea would be to stop consumers from making copies of or distributing TV broadcasts beyond homes and personal networks."

4.3 What's wrong with the BPDG?

The biggest problem with the BPDG is that it strips citizens of their fair use rights. Although the BPDG allows limited copying within a user's "personal network", the specification excludes many other fair uses of content. For example, the BPDG report explicitly states that redistribution for educational fair use would be disallowed by the current proposal. The BPDG won't even let us copy a clip of a TV show for criticism; certainly you won't be able to email a snippet of your son's soccer game to his grandmother.

A second problem with the BPDG is that it places control over a wide array of consumer electronics devices in the hands of a few media companies -- companies which have traditionally been very hostile to innovation (see 5.1). Even some companies that are part of the BPDG consortium worry that the proposal would give too much power to the entertainment industry.

A final problem with the BPDG is that it just won't work. The BPDG specification only addresses digital redistribution of content. Analog piracy -- the kind that already exists today -- will be completely unaffected. (Although Hollywood is working to address analog piracy in other ways -- see 2.3.) Why should we give up our fair use rights for a technology that doesn't even solve the real problem?

From the BPDG's own report: "Several BPDG participants observed that [...] current content protection technologies inevitably cannot accomodate all instances where redistribution of DTV content (e.g. the retransmission of clips for educational purposes) might be fair use."

"Philips testifies today with the issuance of a serious caution to the Congress that the most recent direction from the Broadcast Protection Discussion Group to prevent Internet retransmission of digital terrestrial broadcasts is not in the interest of sound public policy, is not in the best interest of the affected industries, and certainly is not in the interest of the consumer. Because this proposal would require encryption in the home of free over-the-air digital television broadcasts, and because this proposal would place in the hands of a few companies control of all consumer electronics devices through private, contractual licensing arrangements, Philips believes that the current direction is seriously flawed."

4.4 But doesn't the BPDG represent a consensus?

The entertainment industry has portrayed the BPDG process as fair, open, and consensual. But the truth is that many dissenting opinions have been ignored. In particular, despite the efforts of DigitalConsumer, the EFF, and others, the BPDG report failed to guarantee fair use rights for digital television broadcasts. We can't afford to allow the BPDG report to be misrepresented as consensus.

"Hollywood studios seeking to impose electronic controls on digital television broadcasts suffered a setback yesterday as a coalition of technology and consumer electronics companies supporting their efforts crumbled in a cross-industry power struggle. A long-awaited report that the studios hoped would provide the consensus necessary for anti-piracy legislation -- and that members of Congress hoped would jump-start the stalled rollout of digital television -- instead disclosed a host of dissenting opinions."