Representatives of the recording and technology industries today announced that they have reached agreement on a core set of principles to guide their public policy activities in the new Congress regarding the distribution of digital content. The landmark agreement, embodied in a document issued by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), the Computer Systems Policy Project (CSPP), and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), represents new and common ground for the industries, which have been working to address piracy concerns while also seeking to embrace the digital age and meet consumer expectations.
The agreement is significant in that it promotes cross-industry coordination to elevate consumer awareness of piracy issues, a unified consensus on how content creators should be able to use technology to protect their property, and an agreement between the industries that government technical mandates are not the best way to serve the long term interests of consumers, record companies and the technology industry.
"This agreement represents a sea change in the debate over protecting digital content," said Ken Kay, executive director of CSPP. "These principles ensure the future of the digital age for consumers and should serve as the blueprint for collaboration on piracy issues between the content and technology industries. Through these principles, we can and will work together to provide digital distribution solutions that best protect content, consumer choice and innovation."
Robert Holleyman, President and CEO of the BSA, said, "This is a landmark agreement because it shows that a broad cross-section of companies have come to the conclusion that government-mandated technology protection measures simply won't work. The technology industry – more than anyone – knows this. And today's agreement shows that the companies that are hard hit by Internet piracy understand this.
"With this agreement we stand committed to embracing technology and working together to find the best ways to harness technology's promise for consumers, creators and the entertainment industry," Holleyman said.
Hilary Rosen, Chairman and CEO of the RIAA, said, "The digital transformation of the music business is not coming - - it is here. Now there are multiple ways for music fans to buy or subscribe to great legitimate music online. And consumers will enjoy even more new products in the coming years thanks to technological advances.
"Our challenge in the public policy arena is to support that business development through enforcement, education and technical solutions that promote growth. This agreement keeps RIAA's focus on the tasks at hand and minimizes the distracting public rhetoric and needless legislative battles. It follows what I have always believed - - that our industries need to work together for the consumer to benefit and for our respective businesses to grow. Our responsibility is to seek common ground to foster that growth," concluded Rosen.
Specifically, the BSA, CSPP and RIAA have agreed on seven principles to govern their activities for the 108th Congress. The associations call for the private sector to be able to continue driving digital distribution. In addition to focusing on areas of agreement rather than divisive matters relating to government-dictated technology mandates, the associations stated that, "how companies satisfy consumer expectations is a business decision that should be driven by the dynamics of the marketplace, and should not be legislated or regulated."
To combat piracy, the industries will promote privately funded public awareness efforts, as well as approach Congress regarding any federal role. Both industries stated their support for private and federal enforcement against copyright infringers as well as unilateral technical protection measures and they agreed that legislation should not limit the effectiveness of such measures. The industries also expressed support for actions by rights holders that could limit the illegal distribution of copyrighted works in ways that are not destructive to networks or products, or that violate consumers' privacy.
The industries said they would continue to work together on technical measures that protect content, in addition to pursuing common ground in policy debates.
The associations will begin implementing the shared principles immediately. They also announced today their intention to convene a working committee of senior executives from their member companies to move specific activities forward in the coming months.