"We have always been willing to find the right technology balance between the music fan's personal use and still prevent a song from being sent to millions on the Internet."
——Hilary Rosen, RIAA


RIAA Chief Calls for Government Help to Fight Piracy, as House Rep Takes Aim on Copy Protection
The record industry and the U.S. government are apparently at loggerheads over the issue of digital piracy.

At a Senate committe hearing on protecting creative works in the digital age scheduled for today on Capitol hill, RIAA boss Hilary Rosen will submit testimony reinforcing the threat of digital piracy, asking for government help if market-based efforts fail.

At the same time, Virginia Democratic congressman Rick Boucher issued his own statement, insisting the RIAA had not addressed concerns that CD copy-prevention technologies could impinge on consumers' rights to copy music for their own use.

Are they ready for a Fox celebrity boxing match? The winner could even fight Danny Bonaduce...

Rosen insisted the hearing is an important opportunity "to again demonstrate that rampant digital piracy is a serious threat to consumers, artists and record companies, and promising countermeasures have so far been given short shrift by the technology industry."

Boucher has exchanged several letters with the RIAA, but insists the org's reponse "gives me no assurance that these copy protection technologies, in conjunction with digital rights management systems, are being designed in a manner that will permit users...to engage in time-honored fair use space and format-shifting applications." Geez, just because the guy couldn't burn a copy of The Fast and the Furious on his computer.

"The use of copy-protection technologies on CDs gains the recording industry virtually no relief from Internet file-sharing," he insisted before lashing out at the music biz for inadequately labeling such CDs to show whether they will play in standard CD players, DVD players, computers and game consoles.

Meanwhile, Rosen suggested, if the marketplace doesn't provide the incentives necessary to prevent digital piracy, then "we are very interested in exploring with this committee whether there is something that should be done to adjust the incentives that enable legitimate commerce in copyrighted works."

Rosen cited statistics that peer-to-peer systems enable the illegal download of billions of files every month; 23% of music buyers recently surveyed said they were buying less music because they are getting what they want for free by downloading and burning.

"The mere protection of CDs alone cannot solve the online piracy problem, because uncontrolled ripping, burning and infringing online distribution are facilitated by computer products and consumer electronics devices that provide easy and open opportunities for digital piracy," she concluded. "We have always been willing to find the right technology balance between the music fan's personal use and still prevent a song from being sent to millions on the Internet. We should emphasize that we have no desire to stifle innovation by technology companies or inhibit the legitimate use of new technologies to enjoy music."

Rosen may well have problems looking for friends in high places to help her out. Rep. Boucher pointed to a recent settlement between the manufacturer of a copy-protected Charley Pride CD and a woman who was upset after she discovered it could not be played in her PC as a step in the right direction. The woman sued SunnComm Inc., maker of the technology, and distributors Music City Records and Fahrenheit Entertainment, claiming they failed to adequately label the CD. As part of the agreement, the companies agreed to provide more detailed disclosure and to also stop requiring consumers to provide names prior to downloading music from a website.