January 14, 2003 4:42 PM PST

Antipiracy detente announced

WASHINGTON--Music and technology industry lobbyists signed a rhetorical peace accord at an event here on Tuesday afternoon and pledged to work more closely to thwart Internet piracy in the future.

The press conference was designed to highlight a list of seven principles that the trade associations jointly drafted in a bid to head off a series of legislative proposals that would do everything from imposing anticopying standards on PC and electronics makers to regulating the sale of copy-protected CDs. The three groups are the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Business Software Alliance, and the Computer Systems Policy Project (CSPP).

Instead of fighting before Congress over what new laws are necessary, the groups say they'll work together to educate the public, sue pirates, and develop "unilateral technical protection measures that limit unauthorized access, copying or redistribution" of copyrighted materials.

RIAA Chief Executive Hilary Rosen said she expects the debate in the future to shift toward "technical protection measures, which heretofore have not gotten that much attention" from hardware and software makers.

The other principles include: greater public awareness of copyright laws, satisfying "consumer expectations," civil lawsuits and criminal prosecutions against pirates, and opposition to "government mandates."

"A government technology mandate won't solve the problem of online piracy," said Ken Kay, executive director of the CSPP, which represents Dell Computer, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, NCR, IBM, EMC and Unisys.

Notably absent from the press conference were groups like the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) that have been more aggressive than the RIAA in supporting expansive changes to copyright law.

Ken Kay, executive director of the Computer Systems Policy Project (left), Hilary Rosen, CEO of the Recording Industry Association of
America, and Robert Holleyman, CEO of the Business Software
Alliance, announce their alliance at a press conference Tuesday.

Ideologically, the recording industry groups and the information technology groups have never been far apart. They've used similar tactics to combat piracy, ranging from sending cease-and-desist letters to Internet service providers to joining law enforcement in raids on CD or software reproduction facilities. Both groups lobbied for the controversial 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and neither wants to change it.

Technology companies and copyright holders have spurred each other to rhetorical excesses over the past six months, but it has been the consumer-electronics companies and Hollywood studios that have taken the most extreme positions. Neither of those two groups was involved in the discussions that led to Tuesday's press conference.

The three groups involved said they will begin to plan a high-level meeting of executives over the next several weeks who will talk about how to turn the principles into concrete proposals. Those meetings will be unlikely to include groups that did not sign on to the initial document, such as the MPAA or Consumer Electronics Association.

News.com's John Borland contributed to this report.

 

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