Just for Fun
A spirited controversy continues about how to protect the copyright of
digital media, including music compact discs.
There are many sides to the issue, and numerous rights and interests to
protect. Below is a collection of information that suggests a resolution
may not be in sight.
The viewpoints expressed are those of the
authors, and are intended for informational purposes only.
We encourage you to subscribe to and support the
publications and websites that are working to keep consumers informed.
Recordings made in the United States are
protected by a 95-year copyright. But copyright laws in other countries
vary...in the E.U., it is only fifty years, even for recordings that
originated in the United States. This means that a lot of vintage
recordings are becoming "free use" in Europe and could find
their way into the U.S. as imports. Elvis, anyone? The U.S. record
companies are quite unhappy, naturally. Read about it all here.
Fighting for consumers' digital rights
Group proposes law to protect personal use of music, other content
Benny Evangelista, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, March 15, 2002
(c)2002 San Francisco Chronicle
With the debate between Hollywood and Silicon
Valley heating up over digital content, a group of entrepreneurs yesterday
proposed a law to protect consumers' rights to copy CDs, use an MP3 player
and watch a DVD on a Linux- based computer.
The newly formed DigitalConsumer.org,
spearheaded by Excite Inc. founders Joe Kraus and Graham Spencer and based
in Palo Alto, believes the rights of consumers are being trampled as the
major entertainment companies fight digital piracy.
"Under the guise of preventing illegal
copying, I believe Hollywood is using the legislative process to create
new lines of business at consumer expense," Kraus said during
testimony before a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on digital
goal is to create a legal system that denies consumers their personal-use
rights and then charge those consumers additional fees to recoup
them," Kraus said.
The group launched a Web site to serve as a
voice for consumers. In the first few hours, 2,000 faxes to Congress were
sent through the site, Kraus said in an interview.
With the spread of
Napster-style file-sharing programs and the popularity of recordable CD
drives in computers, entertainment companies are pressing for new
technology and laws to stop illegal piracy of movies, music, books and
other copyright-protected digital content.
Record labels, for example, have introduced a
small number of CDs that can't be copied into the MP3 format. Sen. Ernest
Hollings, D-S.C., is drafting legislation that would require consumer
devices to include technology that protects copyrighted material.
Hilary Rosen, president of the Recording Industry
Association of America, said in testimony submitted to the Judiciary
Committee that Congress needed to act because the technology industry
isn't doing enough.
"The recording industry is suffering -- and
other content industries may soon be imperiled -- by rampant infringing
distribution of our works through peer-to-peer systems, other pirate sites
and ubiquitous CD ripping and burning technology," she said.
But Kraus said consumers could lose their
legal rights to that same content.
are not potential criminals," Kraus said. "We need to defend
consumer rights, make those sacrosanct and let the market work on
technology to balance the rights of intellectual property holders."
The group proposed a Consumer Technology Bill of
Rights that affirms the rights of consumers to:
content -- such as recording a TV show or song to watch or hear later.
-- Space-shift content -- such as copying
songs on a CD to a computer hard drive or portable player.
-- Make backup copies of content.
-- Translate content into different formats.
Someone who is blind, for example, could modify an electronic book into
-- Use technology "in order to achieve
the rights previously mentioned," which the group says affirms that
"no technological barrier can deprive you of your other fair use
E-mail Benny Evangelista at email@example.com.