Federal Communications Law Journal

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Citation

57 Federal Communications Law Journal 325 (2005)


With the advent of digital TV, many homes in the U.S. are now on the cutting edge of what is likely to be a sea change in how this country watches TV. While these homes can now begin to enjoy the numerous benefits of the technology, regulators and industry experts are working to craft responses to problems, both actual and anticipated, that the technology creates. Mindful of the piracy issues that came with the popularity of digital file formats in the music industry, the FCC addressed piracy in the digital TV context by endorsing the use of "broadcast flags" on all digital TV transmissions in a 2003 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. In her Note, Debra Kaplan describes the workings of broadcast flags, the applications of the flags in practice, and the concerns that accompany their use. She explains and supports the FCC's jurisdiction to regulate the digital TV industry, addresses how the FCC might work to ensure the use of flags, analyzes the impact of the widespread use of broadcast flags from both a copyright and public policy perspective, and details potential alternatives. These alternatives are ultimately rejected, and the Author concludes by arguing that the flags strike the appropriate balance between protecting content creators and encouraging the widespread dissemination of information.