Webcasters Oppose RIAA Copying Proposal

Webcasters and civil-liberty groups are decrying a proposal by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) to have hardware and software manufacturers implement anti-copying technology aimed

Webcasters and civil-liberty groups are decrying a proposal by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) to have hardware and software manufacturers implement anti-copying technology aimed at prohibiting consumers from downloading music from the Internet, cable, and satellite sources.

The initiative was presented last week in Washington, D.C., by Mitch Glazier, RIAA senior VP of government relations, at a roundtable discussion of movie, music, and technology executives hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The proposal calls for an "audio broadcast flag" that would designate streams as broadcast-only, triggering a response within electronic devices and preventing the content from being downloaded.

Glazier says the initiative is necessitated by technology that allows users to capture music streamed by online services, then burn it to CDs or upload it to a peer-to-peer network. To reduce costs associated with the safeguard, the RIAA proposes that a common standard be established, with technology and electronics companies implementing the "flag" within their own applications.

Jon Potter, executive director of the Digital Media Association, says the RIAA proposal is a surprise to Webcasters. "They define this as a project that was under way, but clearly it was only in their own minds," he says.

Robin Gross, an intellectual-property lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says the idea is a misguided attempt to resurrect the failed Secure Digital Music Initiative, an industry-wide attempt to establish a unified screening technology.
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