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Digital-copyright bill inspires flurry of criticism


4/9/02 3:30 PM
Source: Reuters
By Andy Sullivan

WASHINGTON, April 9 (Reuters) - A digital-copyright bill introduced last
month has inspired howls of protest from consumers and high-tech firms who
say it could slow technological advances and dictate how consumers listen
to music or watch videos at home.

Well-connected lobbyists and everyday users alike have flooded Congress
with faxes and e-mails over the last several weeks to lodge complaints
against a bill that would prevent new computers, CD players and other
consumer-electronics devices from playing unauthorized movies, music and
other digital media files.


The South Carolina Democrat (i.e.Senator Hollings) has said he introduced
the bill to encourage media and technology firms to work together to stop
digital piracy.

Instead, it has inspired a flurry of criticism.  A grass-roots group
called DigitalConsumer.org, which did not exist a month ago, claims to
have signed up 24,000 members, who have sent off 80,000 faxes to their
elected representatives. The Senate Judiciary Committee, which has also
held hearings on the issue, has received more than 3,500 comments
criticizing the bill, a spokeswoman said.

"We haven't received one e-mail in support of the Hollings bill," said
Judiciary Committee spokeswoman Mimi Devlin. "It seems like there's a
groundswell of support from regular users."


Joe Krauss, head of the grassroots group DigitalConsumer.org, said his
members have offered plenty of constructive suggestions.  For example, the
group has called for Congress to pass a law that would specifically spell
out consumers' "fair use" rights, such as the right to record TV shows for
later viewing, or transfer a CD to a portable MP3 player.


The Hollings bill also faces opposition from Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick
Leahy, whose Judiciary Committee handles copyright issues.