CEA Supports Bi-Partisan Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act
May 17, 2004
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According to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the bi-partisan Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act (H.R. 107) takes the necessary steps to return the historical balance between protecting intellectual property and preserving consumers established fair use rights to U.S. copyright law and, thus, deserves congressional support.

Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CEA reiterated CEA's support for H.R. 107 following his testimony delivered this morning on behalf of the Home Recording Rights Coalition (HRRC) before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection. The Subcommittee held a hearing on the proposed legislation, sponsored by Representatives Rick Boucher (D-VA, U.S.) and John Doolittle (R-CA, U.S.).

"H.R. 107 is the elixir for the digital copyright malady plaguing consumers today," Mr. Shapiro said. "In crafting H.R. 107, Representatives Boucher and Doolittle have put the power of the digital medium back in the hands of America's consumers and innovators. This legislation would ensure that law-abiding citizens will no longer suffer the unanticipated consequences of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

"Now, it is up to their colleagues in Congress to determine whether or not entertainment and media giants will continue to restrict our digital personal use rights and whether or not companies will be allowed to use the DMCA's anti-circumvention principles to choke off competition and innovation," he said.

Urging Congress to act quickly on this important legislation, Mr. Shapiro noted that H.R. 107 essentially consists of five key amendments to the DMCA:

  • Empowers consumers of digital media - H.R. 107 would assure that the purchasers of digital media can move movies, music, and other content among devices in their home and to their cars and vacation homes.
  • Requires labeling of copy-protected CDs - The bill requires labels to inform consumers if a compact disc is "copy-protected" and therefore may not play on some standard players.
  • Reaffirms "Fair Use" - The bill would authorize consumers, for example, to circumvent a copy protection system on an electronic book they purchased in order to convert it into digital audio for listening in the car. Under the bill, however, uploading the book to the Internet for distribution to others could still make the consumer liable for copyright infringement.
  • Codifies the Betamax Standard - H.R. 107 would confirm a core finding of the U.S. Supreme Court's historic Betamax decision, namely it is not a copyright violation to manufacture, distribute, or make non-infringing use of a product or software capable of enabling significant non-infringing use of a copyrighted work.
  • Restores protection for valid scientific research - The bill would amend existing law to permit researchers to produce the software necessary to examine technological protection measures.

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