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Elgato says no to voluntary DRM broadcast flags

Yesterday, I was reading through our sister site TV Squad and saw this post about Broadcast Flags that prevent PCs from recording shows. Broadcast flags, which are signals sent in a digital TV data stream, indicate whether shows should or should not be recorded by third party equipment such as PVRs. Curious, I shot off an email to Nick Freeman of Elgato to see whether my Mac-based EyeTV would block flagged recordings.

Turns out that my Macintosh is a libertarian. I can continue recording any shows I receive. Phew.

Not only did Nick get right back to me, he put up this handy info page about Elgato's position on broadcast flags: EyeTV doesn't restrict recording. EyeTV (and Elgato's software in general) ignores voluntary DRM, the kind that asks you to shoot yourself in your own foot if you don't mind thankyouverymuch.

I was blissfully ignorant of these flags until yesterday. In a world of product placement and in-screen logos, does it really make sense to keep people away from watching your shows? It's not as though I don't get the concept -- a return to appointment television where people go to the bathroom during commercial breaks instead of fast forwarding -- but it just struck me as so incredibly brain-dead in its execution.

What a pity that Microsoft chose to support this silliness with Media Center. And bravo to Elgato for deciding not to. What kinds of voluntary DRM can you think up? Let us know in the comments. Mine is broadcast-approved earplugs. Stick them in whenever you encounter sounds that might be copyright.

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