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Friday, January 24, 2003
 Let private sector fight piracy, tech firms say
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Message Text: Technology companies said Thursday they would fight government efforts to require copyright protections in computers, CD burners, and other products and vowed to work out a solution on their own. High-tech firms including Apple Computer Inc.Microsoft Corp.Dell Computer Corp.and Intel Corp.said that while they were committed to developing copy-protection methods, they did not want Congress to dictate what those methods should be.

Movie studios and other media companies have lobbied Congress to stop rampant digital copying of their works, and in some cases have accused Internet providers and other technology firms of profiting from piracy.

South Carolina Sen. Ernest Hollings introduced a bill last year that would have required technology firms to include anti-piracy features in their products, setting off alarm bells across the industry.

Hollings has not decided whether to reintroduce the bill this year, an aide said.

At a hotel near the White House, tech firms, trade associations and several consumer groups said they had formed a group called the Alliance For Digital Progress to fight the Hollings bill or any other similar efforts.

"The answer to piracy lies not in politics. It lies in private-sector cooperation," said Fred McClure, a former official with the Reagan and first Bush administrations who now serves as spokesman for the group.

The movie industry's top lobbyist issued a statement saying that the two sides have been in private discussions and objected to the coalition's adversarial tone.

"We are not the enemy. We are not at war with the IT community," Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America, said in regard to information technology companies.

Many of the same companies and trade associations, including the piracy-fighting Business Software Alliance, announced a similar agreement with recording companies last week.

A spokesman for the Recording Industry Association of America declined to comment on the new coalition.

Also absent from the agreement were consumer-electronics manufacturers, who have pressed Congress to bolster consumer "fair use" rights to make limited copies for personal or academic use. A spokesman for the Consumer Electronics Association said it was in discussions with the coalition.

McClure said the coalition would not tackle fair use or other copyright issues.
 
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