Consumer Groups Criticize Recording Industry’s New Attempt at Content Controls
Consumer Groups Criticize Recording Industry’s New Attempt at Content Controls
Consumer Groups Criticize Recording Industry’s New Attempt at Content Controls

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    For Immediate Release

    Background: As the motion picture industry is trying to persuade lawmakers to resurrect the Federal Communications Commission's “broadcast flag” content controls for digital TV, the recording industry is circulating on Capitol Hill a resolution and “fact sheet” on digital radio calling on Congress to include as well content controls for digital radio. (See below for copies of these documents.) The FCC's TV broadcast flag scheme was overturned by the U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia.

    Public Knowledge and Consumers Union called on Congress to reject the entertainment industry's latest attempts to impose content controls on digital entertainment.

    President Gigi B. Sohn said today that the recording industry “should be ashamed” of its latest attempts to have government-sanctioned content controls on digital radio. By seeking content controls for digital radio “the recording industry is trying to take away rights that consumers have had for decades.” She added: “I am afraid that it is no coincidence that the industry's efforts are taking place at the same time that Hollywood is trying to get Congress to codify the TV broadcast flag. Sohn said that both the broadcast flag for digital TV and prospective digital radio content controls are “bad for innovation, bad for consumers and just bad policy.”

    Kenneth DeGraff, policy advocate for Consumers Union, said: “A broadcast radio flag won't solve the problem of Internet piracy and would prevent consumers from lawful home recording off the radio. Millions of kids taped songs off the radio, and over time became loyal music fans. The record industry shouldn't try to block consumers' personal, lawful recording–it would mean the end of the world as we know it. The brass in pocket they might gain from a radio flag will cost consumers and the music industry in the long run.”

    In addition, the groups pointed out that the recording industry ignores the clear language of the Audio Home Recording Act (AHRA) of 1992, which allows for the noncommercial copying of digital music. Sohn and DeGraff added that the industry “tried to make its case before the FCC, which wisely decided not to proceed with the digital radio equivalent of a broadcast flag. Now the industry is trying to scare Congress into believing that with all of the tools available to the content industry to enforce copyrights, and with no evidence that digital radio has caused copyright problems overseas where it has been widely available, that even more controls are needed.”

    A copy of the resolution can be found here: http://www.publicknowledge.org/doc/20050909-music-united-resolution.doc
    and a copy of the RIAA's “fact sheet” is here: http://www.publicknowledge.org/doc/20050909-riaa-hd-radio-one-pager.doc.


    Public Knowledge is a public-interest advocacy and education organization that seeks to promote a balanced approach to intellectual property law and technology policy that reflects the “cultural bargain” intended by the framers of the constitution. More information available at: http://www.publicknowledge.org