- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Record labels and a group of technology companies said yesterday they will oppose legislative efforts that would mandate anti-piracy controls to combat the increasingly high-profile problem of digital piracy of music.
The Recording Industry Association of America, Business Software Alliance and Computer Systems Policy Project said they will rely on enforcement of existing laws and public awareness to reduce piracy of digital files, a rampant problem owing to file-sharing networks like Kazaa.
Hilary Rosen, chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of America, said the agreement to combat digital piracy without help from Congress will eliminate "needless legislative battles, silly rhetoric about what divides us and continuing disharmony in the public-policy arena."
The record labels and technology companies joined forces yesterday to oppose digital-copyright laws, partly out of concern that legislation will force them to develop technological approaches to stem piracy and include new mechanisms in computer hardware. Technology firms have said that could be too expensive.
Theft of digital content should be stopped, but government-mandated technological solutions won't end piracy, said Ken Kay, director of the Computer Systems Policy Project, a group of eight technology companies.
But critics of the plan want Congress to outline what latitude consumers have to copy and share digital files. Clear digital-copyright rules could force the recording industry to take steps to prevent illegal copying, like including warnings on compact discs to alert consumers when a CD has been encrypted.
Supporters of so-called "fair-use" doctrines, which outline the rights of consumers in the area of digital copyright, also favor pro-consumer measures like allowing viewers to make backup copies of DVDs for personal use.
The Motion Picture Association of America will continue to press for legislation to place restrictions on equipment to copy movies because of concern that its members will lose money to pirated copies.
Consumer groups are clamoring for clarification so consumers can know their rights and have the authority to copy CDs and DVDs for their own use, said Rep. Rick Boucher, Virginia Democrat.
The 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes it illegal to bypass technological controls like a password or encryption in DVDs and computer software to copy them, said Mr. Boucher, who introduced a bill last week to broaden consumer rights by allowing copying in certain cases.
"If you're bypassing [technological controls] to move digital media in your own home for your own use, it ought to be OK," Mr. Boucher said.
Robert Holleyman, chief executive of the Business Software Alliance, said the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is "generally working."
The agreement by record labels and technology companies brings together parties in the digital-copyright debate that are not traditional allies.
Now the Business Software Alliance, which represents Microsoft Corp. and nine other firms, and the Computer Systems Policy Project, which represents Dell Computer Corp. and seven other firms, will argue against legislation to broaden consumer rights. In turn, the recording industry will oppose bills like the one proposed last year by Sen. Ernest F. Hollings, South Carolina Democrat, to require locking controls in new devices that prevent sharing of digital content.
But not all technology companies support the new stance opposing legislation.
"We continue to believe that legislation is required to strike the necessary balance between protecting copyrights and consumers' fair-use rights," said Gary Shapiro, president and chief executive of the Consumer Electronics Association, which represents manufacturers.
The recording industry and technology companies also said they will promote private and federal enforcement efforts against copyright infringers.
"I think the labels will resort to more litigation," said Brian Zisk, co-founder and technologies director of the Future of Music Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy group that supports musicians' rights.


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