U.S. legislation was introduced yesterday (March 2) designed to protect intellectual property transmitted over digital radio services. Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-N.J.) introduced the Audio Broadcast Flag L

U.S. legislation was introduced yesterday (March 2) designed to protect intellectual property transmitted over digital radio services.

Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-N.J.), a member of the House Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, introduced the Audio Broadcast Flag Licensing Act of 2006 (ABFLA). As tipped in Billboard.biz, the bill is designed to safeguard -- through the use of "flag" technology -- government-issued digital spectrum from being used to undermine IP rights or cause economic harm to those who create content.

The bill requires digital radio services using government spectrum to acquire the same licenses from music creators that services offering downloads and subscription digital music services currently must obtain to provide the same services. Ferguson anticipates that this will help ensure a fair marketplace for consumers and a level playing field among satellite and HD radio, on the one hand, and download services like iTunes, Rhapsody and Napster, on the other.

The bill provides for private market negotiations of an "audio broadcast flag" that will differentiate between radio broadcasts. The license would only be required for download services.

It also assures that no one device or technology manufacturer has an advantage over another, Ferguson said. The proposed legislation will maximize the range of broadcast receiving devices made available to the public.

"With exciting new digital audio devices on the market today and more on the horizon, Congress needs to streamline the deployment of digital services and protect the intellectual property rights of creators," Ferguson said. "This legislation strikes the right balance by ensuring consumer choice, preserving intellectual property rights and protecting against piracy."

"We applaud Congressman Ferguson's proposal providing for private market negotiations of technology that will allow for new consumer functionality for radio while requiring a license to offer a download-like service," said RIAA chairman/CEO Mitch Bainwol. "This approach aims to strike a balance that?s good for the music, good for the fans, and good for business."

Original co-sponsors of ABFLA are Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY), Rep. Mary Bono (R-CA), Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).

Ferguson said he hopes to have a hearing scheduled in the Committee on Energy and Commerce as soon as possible.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

Print