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Net music copyright deal reached

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2003 12:57 pm   Post subject: Net music copyright deal reached Reply with quote

Net music copyright deal reached

RIAA, tech firms compromise in bid to avoid government intervention

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14 — The leading trade associations for the music and technology industries, which have been at loggerheads over consumers downloading songs on the Internet, announced a compromise Tuesday they said will protect copyrights on movies and music without new government involvement.

“WHAT WE’RE SAYING IS, ‘We don’t need our heads banged together,”’ said Hilary Rosen, chief executive for the Recording Industry Association of America. She said the agreement will help stem “needless legislative battles, silly rhetoric about what divides us and continuing disharmony in the public policy arena.”

The head of the Business Software Alliance, Robert Holleyman, called it a “landmark agreement.”

Lobbyists for some of the nation’s largest technology companies will use the new agreement to oppose efforts in Congress to broaden the rights of consumers, such as explicitly permitting viewers to make backup copies of DVDs for personal use or to copy songs onto handheld listening devices.

“How companies satisfy consumer expectations is a business decision that should be driven by the dynamics of the marketplace and should not be legislated or regulated,” the agreement said.

Holleyman said leading technology companies believe the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which restricts what consumers can do with digital music and movies, is “generally working as it was intended.”

These technology companies, including Microsoft Corp., IBM, Intel Corp. and Dell Computer Corp., also pledged support Tuesday for aggressive enforcement against digital pirates.

In exchange, the RIAA agreed to argue against government requirements to build locking controls into future generations of entertainment devices, making it more difficult to share music and movies. Technology companies have complained that the controls are too expensive and complex.

The agreement attempts to head off government intervention in the debate over what consumers can do with copyrighted material they have purchased. The battle over copyrights, pitting Hollywood against Silicon Valley, has emerged as a central policy question for this Congress.

The agreement was negotiated among the RIAA, the software alliance and the Computer Systems Policy Project. The software alliance’s members include Microsoft, Apple Computer Inc. and Adobe Systems Inc.; the policy project is made up of chief executives from IBM, Intel, Hewlett-Packard and Dell.


The agreement politically isolates the powerful Motion Picture Association of America, which was noticeably absent from the deal’s participants. The MPAA has aggressively supported new government requirements for built-in locking controls on new devices, such as DVD recorders. A spokesman for the group declined to comment.

The agreement could affect a proposal by Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., that would prohibit the manufacture or distribution of “digital media devices” — such as handheld music players — unless they include government-approved copy restriction technology. His bill’s passage has been in doubt since the 2002 election, because Republican John McCain of Arizona replaced Hollings as chairman of the Commerce Committee when the GOP won the majority in the Senate.

The agreement also could affect fledgling efforts such as those by Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Rick Boucher, R-Va., to further define consumers’ rights under U.S. copyright laws. Lofgren, for example, wants it made clear that consumers would be allowed to resell or give away music or movies they purchase, and would be protected if they deliberately broke anti-piracy controls that interfere with these rights.

Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., praised the agreement for helping to overcome what he said was the “growing rift” between the music and technology industries.

“I hope the rest of the creative and technological communities get on board with a unifying message and ... we can tone down the divisive rhetoric that has otherwise predominated many copyright and technology debates,” Berman said.
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