Wow, a major victory was won today for consumer rights. The FCC has, for quite some time, mandated that all consumer electronic devices capable of receiving HDTV (digital TV) signals include a “broadcast flag” which would make it impossible to copy the transmission. This rule was to go in effect July 1. Interestingly, the decision was in stark contrast to previous positions by the FCC, as well as a gross violation of copyright law and fair-use rights. And not surprisingly, it had the full backing (and doubtless financial support) of the entertainment industry.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. struck down the FCC’s mandate with some harsh language. To wit:

“The FCC argues that the Commission has discretion to exercise ‘broad authority’ over equipment used in connection with radio and wire transmissions, ‘when the need arises, even
if it has not previously regulated in a particular area.’ This is an extraordinary proposition. The
Commission’s position in this case amounts to the bare suggestion that it possesses plenary authority to act within a given area simply because Congress has endowed it with some
authority to act in that area. We categorically reject that suggestion.”

Nice. That not only slams the door on the broadcast flag, but it sends a clear message to both the FCC and the industry that backed this whole idiotic plan. Back off, guys, because you’re overstepping your bounds.