New Lobbying Group Takes on Digital Fight

By | January 24, 2003 at 12:00 AM

Technology companies and advocacy groups announced a new lobbying organization Thursday to counter Hollywood in the battle over access to digital music, movies and books.

Founding members of the Washington-based Alliance for Digital Progress ? which one Hollywood executive demeaned as “a bit strange” ? include Microsoft Corp., Dell Computer Corp., Motorola Inc. and the Information Technology Association of America.

The group wants to fight Hollywood efforts to require anti-copying technology in digital entertainment devices. Technology advocates say embedding such technology in computers and software would crimp product innovation ? and trample consumers’ rights.

“Hollywood leaders… would have organized the monks to burn down Gutenberg’s printing press, if they were alive during that period of rapid change and innovation,” ITAA President Harris N. Miller said. “Legislators have heard Hollywood’s pleas to stifle innovation, but more education will help them make informed decisions. We look forward to working with ADP to make sure all sides are heard when it comes to digital rights management.”

But Hollywood executives say too many consumers are duplicating creative works illegally, and they blame Silicon Valley companies for creating products that make it easy to copy and distribute creative works on the Internet.

Entertainment executives say the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which did not require technology firms to embed copyright protections in their equipment, fails to protect the intellectual property of artists and entertainment companies. They also fear emerging technologies such as “media center” computers that link televisions, stereos and DVD players through high-speed Internet connections.

“Consumers will be the beneficiaries of a digitally honest world,” Jack Valenti, president and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, said in a statement about the new lobbying organization. “We are not the enemy. We are not at war with the IT community…. I am shaking my head in wonderment at this million-dollar campaign to deride us.”

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