Groups clash over proposed bills

WASHINGTON: Music industry organizations and the new Digital Freedom Campaign (DFC) are battling each other and time as DFC tries to thwart legislation proposed in the last session of Congress that would limit the ability to record and distribute digital materials.

WASHINGTON: Music industry organizations and the new Digital Freedom Campaign (DFC) are battling each other and time as DFC tries to thwart legislation proposed in the last session of Congress that would limit the ability to record and distribute digital materials.

Supporters of the Digital Freedom Campaign say that recently proposed bills, such as The PERFORM Act, which would limit the ability of XM and Sirius subscribers to record programs, are attempts by the entertainment industry to control digital technology in order to increase royalties. For opposing organizations, like the RIAA, it's a fight against piracy, ensuring that artists receive the compensation they're entitled to.

DFC campaign has amassed about 1,000 members since launching October 25, including musicians, advocacy organizations, and technology companies. The idea for the campaign came from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), who has been engaged in this debate since the Napster case. They approached Qorvis Communications, an agency with experience in digital technology advocacy campaigns. Qorvis came up with the Digital Freedom name, created the website, and has worked on other PR activities.

"Major recording labels and film studios] are trying to tell consumers that they cannot do anything with the CDs or even the DVDs that they've purchased unless they specifically authorize it. They're trying to restrict fair use," said Don Goldberg, MD at Qorvis Communications and spokesperson for the Digital Freedom campaign. "We would like individuals and policymakers to recognize citizen's rights and [end] attempts at under-handed legislation or onerous lawsuits that bankrupt companies before they even get their products to market."

The campaign has spent the past weeks generating support with appearances at the CMJ Music Marathon in New York City, ads in publications like Roll Call and The Hill, and a Web site. DFC members will attend the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and are considering future virtual concerts and rallies along with satellite concerts.

Entertainment industry organizations have answered with their own advertisements in Roll Call and The Hill, and an editorial written by RIAA president Cary Sherman published on CNET's News.com.

"Our concern is when digital radio devices transform the traditional radio experience into a form of ownership of music, thus potentially displacing legal downloads or legal subscription services," said Jonathan Lamy, SVP of communications for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). "We care a lot when particular companies create business models that encroach upon that legal marketplace but don't compensate people who create music."

The war of words has turned ugly with the RIAA and other groups placing an ad that quotes a CEA executive calling their efforts "terrorism."

"We would think that they would learn that negative attack ads aren't going to work," said Goldberg. "They didn't work [during the mid-term elections]; they're not going to work this week."

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