TDK takes firm stance against digital music piracy

GARDEN CITY, NY: TDK is taking a public stand in the war over music piracy.

GARDEN CITY, NY: TDK is taking a public stand in the war over music piracy.

While many companies are jumping on the digital-music bandwagon to sell PCs, mp3 players, and software, TDK is stating loud and clear that its CD burners and blank CDs should not be used to pirate music.

"We basically feel it's important to make a distinction of how our products should be used," said Meredith Leaf, marketing communications manager.

"We don't encourage piracy. We're 110% anti-piracy. People should be able to make copies of CDs they have legally purchased for use in their car or elsewhere, for their own private use. But we don't want our products being used to obtain music illegally."

TDK is highlighting this position with its sponsorship of the 2002 Jammy Awards, which honors improvisational music and jam bands, such as the Grateful Dead, the Dave Matthews Band, and Phish.

As TDK also prepares to enter the DVD-burner market, Leaf said she wants to make sure its customer base understands the issues surrounding piracy and fair-use rights. TDK's stance isn't so much about promoting the company as it is about educating its customers, said Leaf.

Leaf said she doesn't believe this will influence consumers' buying decisions.

But it could influence the music industry's buying decisions.

"It's a smart move for them, because they also make professional recording equipment," said Bobby Rosenbloum, a partner in the entertainment and intellectual property group at Atlanta law firm Greenberg Traurig. "TDK has to walk a fine line between the recording industry and consumers. Since they sell their products to record companies and consumers, it's pretty smart of them."

Many companies stake out positions on controversial issues, said Leaf.

Companies often talk about how they are environmentally responsible, to show off their green credentials. TDK wants to be known as a digitally responsible company.

Kevin Gray, principal and head of the intellectual property department at Dallas law firm Fish & Richardson, said TDK stands to benefit from a legal standpoint as well.

"They're being a good corporate citizen," said Gray, adding that if any legal issues arise in the future concerning music piracy, TDK has already made its position known.

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