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For Immediate Release
Background: Congress ended its 2003-2004 legislative work without passing major copyright legislation. One bill, S. 3021 (The Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2004), passed the Senate, but was pending in the House as the session ended and did not come up for a vote. That bill would have given consumers the affirmative right to fast-forward over or mute, portions of their digital video content, provided jail time for unauthorized use of a video camera in a movie theatre and created penalties for counterfeiting digital media labels.
Other legislation that did not pass would have created a liability for parties who "induce" copyright violations (S. 2560), would have lowered the standards for copyright infringement (HR 4077), allowed the Justice Department to file civil suits against infringers (S. 2237) and would have restricted consumer access to factual information (HR 3261). An omnibus intellectual property package of bills (HR 2391) passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, but was not taken up by the full Senate. The less controversial items of that bill were reintroduced as S. 3021.
Statement of Gigi B. Sohn, president of Public Knowledge:
"Consumers should be pleased that Congress ended its session without passing legislation that would have restricted consumers' freedom to use digital media, restricted their access to information or otherwise strengthened copyright law beyond what the framers of the Constitution envisioned.
"Now that two Congresses have ended without major copyright legislation, we hope that the large content companies will focus their efforts on creating new business models that take advantage of new technologies rather than on legislation that would hobble the development of new technologies.
"But if legislation is needed, Public Knowledge looks forward to working with members of Congress and the content community on narrow fixes to copyright law as well as on our initiatives, which are intended to bring balance to copyright law and protect the rights of consumers to use digital content and information."