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Audio Broadcast Flag legislation could ban home recording

Marc Perton

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It may have been a while since we've heard anything new from Congress about the Broadcast Flag's radio counterpart, the Audio Flag, but rest assured, your elected representatives haven't stopped thinking about it. And the latest incarnation of the law, the Audio Broadcast Flag Licensing Act of 2006, H.R. 4861, is a bill you might want to actually give a perusal. Turns out that, when it comes to digital radio, the bill basically takes away any "fair use" rights you might have assumed you had, and lets the record industry decide what you can and can't do with your radio. Want to record a radio show so you can listen to it later? Sorry, not unless the record industry says you can. Want to tape a couple of songs, so you can listen to them again before deciding whether to buy them? Forget about it. In fact, the law as written would require manufacturers to get FCC approval if they wanted to include recording functions in their digital radios. Of course, this is still just a bill, yes, it's only a bill, which means there's time to make some changes. And, as we've seen, there are at least some Senators who have doubts about giving the record industry even more control over what we can and can't listen to. Maybe teaching them all how to use an iPod isn't such a bad idea after all.

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