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Microsoft admits Windows Media Center enforces Broadcast Flag

The Broadcast Flag was an attempt by the FCC to mandate software and hardware controls on consumer devices. Put simply, this “feature” would have rendered every digital video recorder on the market, such as TiVos, useless and obsolete by allowing broadcasters to dictate which TV shows viewers were allowed to record and for how long the recordings could be stored. It would have killed the concept of “time-shifting” overnight.

But in May 2005 Judge Harry Edwards of the DC Court of Appeals told an FCC lawyer, “You crossed the line,” and the court struck down the Broadcast Flag by a 3-0 vote.


Fast-forward to the present, and Microsoft’s Media Center has been caught enforcing this non-existent rule, preventing Windows users from recording certain NBC broadcast TV shows. And now Microsoft has acknowledged including this awesome feature in Windows.

“Microsoft included technologies in Windows based on rules set forth by the (Federal Communications Commission),” a Microsoft spokeswoman wrote in an e-mail to CNET “As part of these regulations, Windows Media Center fully adheres to the flags used by broadcasters and content owners to determine how their content is distributed and consumed.”

Danny O’Brien, of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, had this to say:

“Microsoft has put the requirements of broadcasters above what consumers want. They’ve imposed restrictions way beyond what the law requires. Customers need to know who Microsoft is listening to and how that affects their equipment. Right now, the only way customers know what Microsoft has agreed to is when the technology they’ve bought suddenly stops working. Microsoft needs to come clean and tell its customers what deals it has made.”

Is this what Microsoft meant by “The WOW starts now”?



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