The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled Friday that the Federal Communications Commission did not have the authority to prohibit the manufacture of computer and video hardware that doesn't have copy protection technology known as the "broadcast flag." The regulations, which the FCC created in November 2003, had been intended to limit unauthorized Internet redistribution of over-the-air TV broadcasts.
"The broadcast flag regulations exceed the agency's delegated authority under the statute," a three-judge panel unanimously concluded. "The FCC has no authority to regulate consumer electronic devices that can be used for receipt of wire or radio communication when those devices are not engaged in the process of radio or wire transmission."
One result of Friday's ruling is that, unless it's eventually overturned by a higher court, the fight over digital TV piracy will return to Capitol Hill. The D.C. appeals court noted that the FCC "has no power to act" until "Congress confers power on it" by enacting a law explicitly authorizing the broadcast flag.
News source: C|Net