Record Labels Oppose Legislation on Digital Piracy; Hardware Changes Seen as Too Costly

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Byline: William Glanz, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Record labels and a group of technology companies said yesterday that 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 "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. …