[FoRK] Dare To Be Naive: More On (Moron) Broadcast Flag
Contempt for Meatheads
jbone at place.org
Tue May 4 10:22:47 PDT 2004
From Freedom to Tinker:
Dare To Be Naive
Ernest Miller at CopyFight has an interesting response to my discussion
yesterday of the Broadcast Flag. I wrote that the Flag is bad
regulation, being poorly targeted at the goal of protecting TV
broadcasts from Internet redistribution. Ernie replies that the Flag is
actually well-targeted regulation, but for a different purpose:
[Y]ou'd have to be an idiot to think that the broadcast flag would
prevent HDTV content from making it onto the internet. Since I don't
believe that the commissioners are that stupid, I can only conclude
that the FCC is acting quite cynically in support of an important
constituency of theirs, the broadcasters
In other words, the purported purpose of the broadcast flag (to prevent
HDTV from getting onto the internet) is not the real purpose of the
broadcast flag, which appears to be to give content providers more
control over the average citizen's ability to make use of media.
Ernie's theory, that the movie industry and the FCC are using "content
protection" as a smokescreen to further a secret agenda of controlling
media technology, fits the facts pretty well. And quite a few
experienced lobbyists seem to believe it. Still, I don't think it's
right to argue against the Broadcast Flag on that basis.
First, even if you believe the theory, it's often a useful debating
tactic to pretend that the other side actually believes what they say
they believe. It's hard to prove that someone is lying about their own
beliefs and motivations; it can be much easier to prove that their
asserted beliefs don't justify their conclusions. And proving that the
official rationale for the Flag is wrong would do some good.
Second, if Ernie's theory is right, the fix is in and there's not much
we can do about future Broadcast Flag type regulation. If we want to
change things, we might as well act on the assumption that it matters
whether the official rationale for the Flag is right.
And finally, I am convinced that at least some people in the movie
industry, and at least some people at the FCC, actually believe the
official rationale. I think this because of what these people say in
private, after a few (literal or metaphorical) beers, and because of
how they react when the official rationale for the Flag is challenged.
Even in private, industry or FCC people often react to criticism of the
official rationale with real passion and not just with platitudes.
Either these (non-PR) people are extraordinarily good at staying
on-message, or they really believe (as individuals) what they are
So although Ernie's theory is very plausible, I will dare to be naïve,
and will continue to act on the assumption that he is wrong -- even if
I suspect otherwise.
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