While its customers are still puzzling over why Vista Media Center is suddenly refusing to record over-the-air NBC digital TV, Microsoft has come out with an astounding admission, courtesy of Greg Sandoval at CNet News:
"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 News.com. "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."
Microsoft's statement shines light on how Microsoft expects Media Center to behave. If this is the company's explanation for what users are seeing when attempting to record digital NBC broadcasts over-the-air, then Microsoft is saying Vista obeys the broadcast flag: a requirement rejected by courts and Congress.
The FCC regulation that Microsoft's spokesperson says it follows is not in force - that is, there is no legal requirement for them to follow these rules. They were rejected by the D.C. Circuit of Appeals in a case brought forward by librarians, public interest and consumer groups (including EFF and Public Knowledge). Microsoft is not complying with the FCC: it is complying with the "broadcasters and content owners" who so dearly wanted the flag in place, and failed to manage it.