Some of the most important copyright holders, including the motion picture studios, sports leagues and the entertainment unions, are urging lawmakers to oppose legislation that would scale back intell


WASHINGTON, D.C. (The Hollywood Reporter) -- Some of the most important copyright holders, including the motion picture studios, sports leagues and the entertainment unions, are urging lawmakers to oppose legislation that would scale back intellectual property protections.

In a letter sent to lawmakers the week of May 9, the companies, leagues and guilds told lawmakers that the Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act (HR 1201) actually undermines consumers.

"Despite its title, HR 1201 is decidedly anti-consumer. If enacted, it would promote 'hacking' and the proliferation of 'hacker tools,' undermine the incentives for both copyright owners and the people who create those copyrighted works to create and distribute the highest-quality products to American consumers," the Copyright Assembly wrote. "In the end, HR 1201 will leave individuals with fewer choices, less flexibility and inferior quality digital entertainment."

The legislation, written by Reps. Rick Boucher, D-Va., and John Doolittle, R-Calif., would allow people to bypass digital copyright protection regimes for "fair use" purposes. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, cracking a digital copyright protection regime is a federal crime.

Copyright holders contend that allowing such an action guts the protection necessary for Internet delivery of copyrighted works.

"With 2.6 billion infringing files traded each month on peer-to-peer networks, Congress should be looking for ways to limit piracy (or even to keep it from getting worse), not to facilitate it by undermining what limited technical protections do exist today," the Copyright Assembly wrote. "We urge you to seriously consider the adverse effects of this proposal and opt to protect consumer choice in the marketplace by rejecting HR 1201."

Although there has been little movement on copyright legislation since the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act was approved this year, congressional and industry sources say that the letter was prompted because Boucher has been urging colleagues to consider the bill.

Most lawmakers and industry executives think that any broad copyright legislation like the Boucher-Doolittle bill will have to wait until after the Supreme Court rules on the Grokster case. Their ruling likely will decide the copyright liability of P2P networks, and the losing side is sure to ask Congress to undo the court's decision.