U.S. Copyright Office Joins Broad Criticism of FCC’s Destructive Cable Set-Top Box Proposal
CFIF and other conservative and libertarian groups strongly oppose a new proposal from Obama’s overactive Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate cable television set-top boxes, and that opposition is widely shared among a bipartisan Congressional coalition and even the political left.
Now, even the U.S. Copyright Office has joined the voices criticizing the FCC’s misguided proposal:
The U.S. Copyright Office criticized a federal agency’s plan to open up the market for pay-TV set-top boxes in a letter to lawmakers on Wednesday. The letter adds political pressure on Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler, who has been pushing since the beginning of the year for new FCC rules to open up the market for the costly set-top boxes… ’As currently proposed, the [FCC] rule could interfere with copyright owners’ rights to license their works as provided by copyright law.’ That is because those who create programming, and hold the copyright on it, have negotiated specific deals with cable companies, and those deals could be upended if other companies also obtain access to the programming through their own set-top boxes. The letter adds that the Copyright Office is ‘hopeful that the FCC will refine its approach as necessary to avoid conflicts with copyright law and authors’ interests under that law.’”
It’s pretty damning and humiliating that even a counterpart executive branch agency raps the highly-politicized FCC across the knuckles in such an open manner.
Nevertheless, it’s a welcome rebuke against the FCC’s proposal, which constitutes a 1990s-vintage, one-size-fits all mandate to make cable TV set-top boxes artificially compatible with third-party devices. It additionally constitutes transparent crony capitalism, threatens consumer privacy, undermines the creative community and damages property rights by facilitating piracy of creative content. And technologically speaking, the set-top box proposal freezes in place an outdated set-top box business model that private innovation and technological advance are already leaving in the dust, with cable companies and other entertainment industry entrepreneurs already abandoning traditional cable boxes in favor of apps and other devices owned and guided by individual consumers.
Hopefully, the Copyright Office’s welcome input helps drive a well-deserved nail into the proposal’s metaphorical coffin.