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Q: Do you have any regrets about filing so many lawsuits?
Sherman: That we had to do it at all. It arrested the growth of a runaway solution that would have grown worse and worse.
Bainwol: You make it clear that there are risks.
Q: How useful has the NET Act, which makes not-for-profit copyright infringement a federal crime, been?
Sherman: Did it have an impact? Sure. Anything that increases risk would have an impact. The only thing that has an impact is: "What does it matter for me?" When we've done surveys, the lawsuits are the No. 1 or No. 2 reason for why people have changed their behavior.
Q: What new laws are you lobbying for to help you?
Bainwol: You've got this conversation going on in terms of platform and prices. The iPod has dominated. We're in an MP3 player world. (That's why we see digital radio receivers that record as a threat.)
Q: I wrote about the RIAA's appearance before a Senate hearing earlier this year on an "audio broadcast flag" for digital receivers that are able to broadcasts from HD radio and satellite radio. What exactly would you like Congress to do?
Sherman: Legislative parity in the Senate that would harmonize (licensing rates) and content protection requirements. It doesn't make any sense that Webcasters who are in competition with satellite pay more and have more obligations. They should be harmonized.
They're basically licensed to do a public performance. They are filling up an iPod equivalent with free music. It stays on your device for as long as you're a subscriber.
Q: Do you need congressional action on this, or can you work this out through negotiation and contracts?
Bainwol: As a matter of policy you have very broad issues here. The individual question with XM or Sirius can be (addressed) on a private basis.
Q: Do you actually need to make certain receivers illegal to manufacture, which is the path being taken by Sen. Ted Stevens' proposal or Rep. Mike Ferguson's bill?
Sherman: It isn't a matter of making it legal or illegal. The preferred approach would be to make this a licensing matter.
Any kind of traditional copying would be fine. Just don't create a library like an iTunes library.
Q: How are you going to deal with open-source programmers who release code that simply ignores a broadcast flag? I'm thinking of applications like GNU
Sherman: We've long accepted the notion that you're not going to have a pirate-proof system. The idea is to leave that to the hacking community. Most people want to get it legitimately.
Bainwol: The world at large is not aware of DRM as an issue. Nobody feels any real problem with it.
Sherman: It's the ideologues who are focused on it. There's a great article by Jim DeLong that asks how you think there should be rallies outside supermarkets using technology preventing you from taking away shopping carts. (Editors' note: DeLong is an analyst at the Progress and Freedom Foundation in Washington, D.C., who supports stronger intellectual property rights.)
Q: Could the DRM debate flare up again because of public missteps like Sony's rootkit-enabled CDs?
Sherman: DRM has just gotten a bad rap based on this notion that it's going to restrict consumer choice.
Bainwol: It's a proxy for an almost ideological fight on fair use.Sherman: The fight over DRM will almost fade away as business models (become more flexible).
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