Monday , June 17 2024

Strange Bedfellows

RIAA allies with two computer trade organizations to oppose mandatory anti-copying legislation:

    None of the three groups — the Recording Industry Association of America, the Business Software Alliance and the Computer Systems Policy Project — would comment on the specifics of the joint principles that are to be released at a news conference.

    But sources familiar with the agreement said it is designed to try to ease the tension between the technology industry, which opposes any government mandates on how technology should be designed, and the entertainment industry, which has been seeking federal help in combating what it sees as a growing problem of consumers illegally copying and swapping digital music and video.

    The technology groups count as members companies such as Microsoft Corp., Intel Corp., Dell Computer Corp. and International Business Machines Corp. They support protecting intellectual property but have disagreed with the entertainment industry on how it should be done.

    Generally, it has been the movie industry that has been the prime mover behind legislation requiring the use of anti-piracy devices. And the most prominent bill, sponsored by Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.), is widely viewed as having little chance of passage because of tech-industry resistance.

    But people familiar with the new deal speculate that by coming out against such legislation, the music industry is trying to repair its battered reputation in places such as college campuses as being a bunch of conglomerates that want to prevent consumers from freely listening to, recording and trading music. The music trade group has been especially active in the courts, where it has succeeded in persuading judges to close down music file-sharing services such as Napster.

    ….”I have long noted that copyright and technology creators have a symbiotic relationship, and have lamented the growing rift between the two communities,” said Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Calif.), who is sponsoring legislation favored by the record labels that would allow companies to engage in a measure of hacking on their own to disrupt the efforts of digital pirates.

    That legislation is reviled by consumer and privacy groups, which argue that it could open the door to widespread invasion of privacy. Those groups also charge that the agreement is another example of big businesses getting together to decide what is best for consumers.

    “If they can find a way to divide up the rents, then I’ll be the one paying for it,” said Mark N. Cooper, research director of the Consumer Federation of America. [Washington Post]

If Berman likes it, I’m probably against it. PR is mounting against the RIAA, give yourselves a pat on the back for helping to create the pressure they now feel. It wasn’t that way even six months ago.

Variety says there is an explicit quid pro quo:

    Under the terms of the compromise, tech groups the Business Software Alliance and the Computer Systems Policy Project will not support mounting legislative efforts to reaffirm a consumer’s “fair use” right to copy entertainment fare in the digital age.

    In return, the RIAA will back down on its own support for legislation that would make embedded copy-protection technologies standard operating equipment on many high-tech products, sources close to the situation said.

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted,, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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