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Monday, October 22, 2001
Tech giants pan anti-piracy mandate


Technology industry heavyweights are trying to kill a Hollywood-backed plan heading for Congress that would require anti-piracy protections in PCs, CD players and other consumer electronics devices. After weeks of conference calls and quiet rallying of the troops, technology companies including Intel, IBM, Microsoft and Compaq Computer held a coming-out press conference Monday to oppose a broad copyright protection proposal being backed by Walt Disney and Sen. Ernest Hollings.

The early draft bill would require the technology industry to come to its own decision on a copy-protection standard within 18 months, or else have the government step in to mandate a solution. The bill would bar the sale of any "interactive digital device" that did not have the anti-piracy technology built in. It would also be illegal to remove or disable the security technology as well as to remove the piracy protections from a song, movie or other piece of content.

The Motion Picture Association of America endorses the goals of Hollings' plan but stops short of actually embracing the proposed legislation itself. "The MPAA agrees with the goals of the Hollings bill, that is, for the private parties to negotiate an agreement on Internet standards for content encryption, watermarking (and) digital rights management," MPAA President Jack Valenti said in a statement. "When an agreement is reached by the private parties, we will all then together support appropriate legislation regarding copyright protection in digital devices."

In their press conference Monday, the technology companies said the market is already responding with adequate anti-piracy technology, such as that from Microsoft and an Intel-backed coalition of companies. But trying to make a single technology fit a variety of applications and devices--as was the case with SDMI and appears to be the case with Hollings' bill--is the wrong way to go, the companies said.


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