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Wednesday, February 21, 2001
Playing fair with copyright

"...The appellate judges have spoken: the indiscriminate music-sharing bacchanalia must end. But can 62 million Napster users really be wrong? Almost by definition, such a massive consumer force is a market that must be served. Watch out, folks. "The next vine" might present a slew of copyright problems even more difficult to untangle than the Napster case. It turns out that the entertainment industry’s ultimate line of defense is not lawsuits. Instead, it plans to protect intellectual property from the new technologies of digital copying with ... new technologies of digital anticopying.

Meanwhile, it’s boom time for companies concocting schemes to lock up creative works from infringers and paying customers alike. Just last week I learned that an Israeli company called TTR has created a technology called Safe Audio that allows music companies to press CDs in such a way that digital copies can’t be made. If the next Jennifer Lopez disc you buy is Safe Audio-ized and you try to burn a CD copy, or even use a software program to place it in your computer jukebox, J. Lo’s dulcet tones will be overwhelmed by horrible white noise.

TTR’s Mark Tokayer notes that though U.S. consumers might have the right to make such copies for themselves, the Sonys and AOL Time Warners of the world have no legal obligation to provide you with the means to exercise those rights. And the Millennium Copyright Act is ready to whack you if you try to take those rights back. Tokayer says that his company is negotiating with all the major entertainment powers and expects Safe Audio to be on discs sold by the end of this year..."

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