Charlie Bass to Outlaw Fair Use

Our representative to the United States House of Representatives, Charlie Bass, has joined an effort to outlaw fair use of television programming via support of The Broadcast Flag. I sent the following letter to Charlie:

Dear Mr. Bass,

<p>I was shocked and dismayed to read that you are signatory to a letter calling for the reinstatement of the broadcast flag on digital TV.</p>
<p>Reportedly the letter states, “Program producers will naturally be reluctant to license their high value programs for digital distribution without protection from widespread acts of infringement over the Internet.” </p>
<p>Mr. Bass, this doesn’t pass the Laugh Test.  Everybody knows the broadcast flag is a non-encrypting control mechanism that is voluntarily honored by electronic devices.  Those who wish to infringe the copyrights of the material have no barriers to doing so, they simply use a hardware or software device, off the shelf or modified, to ignore the broadcast flag.  In fact, professional digital television equipment is already available for purchase and in use that purposely ignores the flag so broadcasters can bypass it for their needs.  These are available to anybody who would like to purchase one.  This is no barrier to the intent media pirate.</p>
<p>The only effect of the broadcast flag is to prevent the average citizens of the United States from doing what they might like to do with programs that come into their homes.  Time shifting, media shifting, whatever might make viewing that television program fit their lives better, that’s what’s prevented.  We used to call that Fair Use.  This is a control-play by the content owners to have citizens view their programming the way they think is best or not at all.</p>
<p>I hope that you’ve been lied to about the true nature of the Broadcast Flag and that you’re not really trying to outlaw Fair Use in the United States.  If you truly are intending to outlaw Fair Use, please reconsider your position - it’s certainly not one many voters in New Hampshire would support.  </p>
<p>If you have a staff member who needs more information about the Broadcast Flag I’d be happy to help.</p>
<p>All the best,<br />

-Bill

If you’re a constituent of Mr. Bass, please take the time to send him a note. Feel free to copy any text from my letter that might be helpful.