Are Digital Copy Locks Inevitable?
WASHINGTON -- The entertainment industry is still pushing for government intervention to protect digital works from piracy. What's more, one music organization is crafting its own technological solution.
Silicon Valley does not share Hollywood's approach, but representatives of both industries continue to discuss a mutual solution under threat of Congressional action. Legislators have told them to come up with a way to protect copyrights, or risk having a method imposed.
In particular, Congress has encouraged talk of developing a broadcast "flag" that would prevent digital video from being illegally redistributed. Representatives of the Recording Industry Association of America at a forum Wednesday revealed the organization has independently begun work on an "audio flag" to protect streaming Internet music from piracy. They offered no details, but tech industry attendees were clearly surprised.
Representatives of entertainment giants, technology firms, and consumer groups rehashed many of the old arguments of balancing copyright protection, technical restrictions, and fair use at the forum. The Commerce Department's Technology Administration hosted the discussion about progress in creating standards for digital rights management.
Although officials from both industries say they are working on ways to protect digital television broadcasts from being pirated, some representatives of the entertainment giants say Congress must at least help enforce any standard.
"At some point there has to be some kind of legislation either by regulation or federal mandate," says Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America.
The entertainment industry claims it loses billions of dollars yearly to piracy. The companies say the losses prevent new and innovative content from reaching the emerging high-speed market.
"I don't think we're going to solve this problem until we have a [government-controlled] process," says Preston Padden, vice president for public policy with Walt Disney.
However, some tech industry representatives argue that content piracy is simply a fact of life in the industry. Both industries can better spend their energies figuring out how to give customers reasons not to pirate, suggests Rob Reid, chair of Listen.com.
Piracy is "always going to be out there, whether we like or not," Reid says. "I have to create a service that is better than free."
The forum's host, the Technology Administration, hopes industry standards can be set without legislative interference, says Phillip Bond, chief of staff to the commerce secretary and undersecretary for technology policy.
Meanwhile, Congress is stepping up pressure for the entertainment and tech industries to come to a consensus on the issue. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Billy Tauzin (R-Louisiana) said this week that if those industries can't hammer out
Congress has set a