A coalition of nine public-interest groups ranging from the American Library Assn. to the Consumers Union are telling the federal court here that it needs to overturn the Federal Communication Commiss

WASHINGTON, D.C. (The Hollywood Reporter) -- A coalition of nine public-interest groups ranging from the American Library Assn. to the Consumers Union are telling the federal court here that it needs to overturn the Federal Communication Commission's decision establishing the so-called "broadcast flag."

In its brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals, the groups argue that the commission exceeded its authority when it approved the technology that is designed to prevent digital television content from being disseminated over the Internet.

The groups contend that the FCC has no authority to regulate digital TV sets and other digital devices unless specifically granted by Congress and that the Communications Act of 1962 deliberately put limits on the FCC authority. The commission cited the 1962 law that required set makers to include VHF and UHF tuners in TV sets as its authority for the decision.

"Bowing to a group of copyright holders led by the [Motion Picture Assn. of America], the FCC promulgated a rule drafted by those corporate interests that will dictate design aspects of a vast array of consumer electronics -- televisions, DVD recorders, TiVos, digital VCRs, iPods and cell phones -- for years to come," the groups argued.

While the FCC does have jurisdiction over TV transmissions, there are no transmissions at issue here because the broadcast flag, which limits the uses to which digital material can be used, does not take effect until after the digital broadcast has been received, the brief states. The flag restricts use of all content, even if it is within a consumer's home, the groups told the court.

"This is a crucial case that will determine how much control the government and Hollywood will have over current and future digital media devices consumers love now and will in the future," said Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, a fair-use advocacy group.

Filing the brief were Public Knowledge, the American Library Assn., Assn. of Research Libraries, American Assn. of Law Libraries, Medical Library Assn., Special Libraries Assn., Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union and Electronic Frontier Foundation.