- The fierce negotiations between Hollywood and Silicon Valley over Internet piracy spiked Wednesday on Capitol Hill.
Lawmakers pushed new legislation barring the entertainment business from dictating new technology that will make it tougher for buyers to copy digital TV, movies and music.
One of the measures was introduced by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who represents San Jose, the country’s technology capitol.
“I believe Silicon Valley is poised to work with consumers and the entertainment industry to create the needed balance for the digital world,” Lofgren said in a statement. But industryites said Lofgren’s measure threatened the delicate negotiations between Hollywood and the tech sector over technologies allowing the entertainment business some measure of protection against Napster-like piracy.
Lofgren’s far-reaching legislation would allow “lawful” consumers to make backup copies of digital works and play them on “preferred” digital devices. Moreover, the proposal would allow consumers to bypass encryption technologies that “impede” their rights and expectations.
Entertainment executives said Lofgren’s bill was clearly backed by Silicon Valley tech companies, and that it left no room for negotiations, jeopardizing months of talks.
“It’s a Trojan Horse that, when opened, is full of blank CDs and DVDs to copy the palace with,” one executive said.
Hollywood’s top lobbyist said in a statement that Lofgren’s bill would deny content owners the ability to protect their works from wholesale piracy.
“This means millions of movies could be illegally downloaded without penalty and without fear,” said
Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Assn. of America.
“Our goal in this digital age remains unchanged: that is to make our works available to consumers via the Internet at a fair and reasonable price, a price that will ultimately be determined by the consumer. I have talked to Rep. Lofgren to express our anxieties about this legislation.”
The other piece of legislation will be introduced Thursday by a coalition led by Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.). His bill would amend current law to allow customers lawfully buying entertainment products to circumvent encryption technology so as to exercise their right make copies for personal use.
“Fair use rights are essential to the free flow of information in our society and to the very durability of our Democracy,” Boucher said.
Computer giants Intel and consumer electronics conglom Philips, along with the Assn. of American Universities and key consumer advocate groups, are among those expected to flank Boucher
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