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Old 15th January 2003
Please read this and explain it to me in plain English!

Computer, recording industries reach agreement on digital recording

Steve Alexander

Star Tribune


Published Jan. 15, 2003

Millions of consumers can keep downloading and copying music, at least for now, after an agreement by the recording and computer industries Tuesday to quit fighting in Congress over unauthorized music duplication.

But consumers still could encounter opposition from the movie industry, which has the most to lose in the argument over digital copying and wasn't part of the agreement.

Music downloading and copying now is a way that millions of Americans use their computers, particularly young people who listen to music on their computers, on portable MP3 music players and on CD players in cars. Virtually all believe they have a right to copy music they have purchased, and many are unconcerned about whether sharing music with others on the Internet violates the letter of U.S. laws that protect copyrighted works.

But the music and movie industries look at copying much differently. They fear that perfect digital copies will multiply and undercut their revenue.

The music industry claims that downloading and copying are the main reasons that unit retail sales of music CD albums dropped 10.7 percent in 2002, although there is no way to prove that the depressed economy was not the culprit. The industry sued downloading site Napster and drove it out of business. Now the industry has focused its legal artillery on the popular Kazaa sharing service.

The movie industry is worried that it could be "Napsterized," particularly once more consumers have the high-speed Internet connections that make it feasible to download movies.

In Tuesday's agreement, the music industry said it would not push for legislation that would force manufacturers to put anticopying features on computers, as feared by the depressed PC industry. The PC industry agreed not to support a loosening of the copyright laws that govern music copying, a change the music industry had feared, considering that CD retail sales dropped more than 10 percent in 2002.

But the movie industry didn't join the agreement because it has more to lose from consumer copying, said Phil Leigh, an analyst at Raymond James & Associates in St. Petersburg, Fla. While the recording industry will tolerate some music copying because it understands consumers want to listen to music on many different devices and locations, the movie industry won't accept any copying because it believes the duplicates are given to other people, he said.

Despite the movie industry's lack of participation, the music and computer industries tried to portray Tuesday's agreement as a milestone in efforts to deal with copyrights without new government involvement.

"How companies satisfy consumer expectations is a business decision that should be driven by the dynamics of the marketplace and should not be legislated or regulated," the agreement said.

Lobbyists for some of the nation's largest technology companies will use the agreement to oppose efforts in Congress to broaden consumer rights, such as explicitly permitting viewers to make backup copies of DVDs for personal use or to copy songs onto handheld listening devices.

In exchange, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) agreed to argue against government requirements to build into future entertainment devices locking controls that would make it more difficult to share music and movies. Manufacturers have complained that the controls are too expensive and complex.

The agreement politically isolates the powerful Motion Picture Association of America, which has aggressively supported government requirements for locking controls on new consumer devices such as DVD recorders. A spokesman for the group declined to comment Tuesday.

Leigh said the movie studios are "taking an even harder line" than the recording industry did on copying because a large percentage of today's downloads on the Kazaa service are movies.

"The movie industry wants the mandatory lobotomizing of PCs to prevent copying movies. In my opinion, the studios will push this to the point where there is some type of consumer revolt," Leigh said.

'A landmark agreement'

The participants in the agreement said they understand legislative wrangling isn't productive.

"What we're saying is, 'We don't need our heads banged together,' " said Hilary Rosen, CEO for the music industry association. She said the agreement will help stem "needless legislative battles, silly rhetoric about what divides us and continuing disharmony in the public policy arena."

The head of the computer industry's Business Software Alliance, Robert Holleyman, called it a "landmark agreement."

Holleyman said leading technology companies -- including Microsoft, IBM, Intel and Dell Computer -- believe the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which restricts what consumers can do with digital music and movies, is "generally working as it was intended." The firms pledged support for aggressive enforcement against digital pirates.

The agreement was negotiated among the RIAA, the software alliance and the Computer Systems Policy Project. The software alliance's members include Microsoft, Apple Computer Inc. and Adobe Systems Inc.; the policy project is made up of the CEOs of IBM, Intel, Hewlett-Packard and Dell.

The agreement could affect a proposal by Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., that would prohibit the manufacture or distribution of "digital media devices" -- such as handheld music players -- unless they include locking controls. His bill's passage has been in doubt since the GOP won the majority in the Senate.

The agreement also could affect fledgling efforts such as those by Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Rick Boucher, D-Va., to further define consumers' rights under U.S. copyright laws. Lofgren wants it made clear that consumers would be allowed to resell or give away music or movies they purchase, and would be protected if they deliberately broke anti-piracy controls that interfere with these rights.

Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., praised the agreement for helping to overcome what he said was the "growing rift" between the music and technology industries.

"I hope the rest of the creative and technological communities get on board with a unifying message and . . . we can tone down the divisive rhetoric that has otherwise predominated many copyright and technology debates," Berman said.
Old 15th January 2003
Super Moderator
Remoteness's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Oh yeah,

Check this out Jules and crew...

This may make you feel a bit better.


Few Claiming CD Settlement Money

January 7, 2003 05:56 AM EST

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Suppose someone was handing out $20 bills and almost nobody wanted one? That's roughly what's happening with a massive price-fixing settlement involving states and compact disc companies.

The deal calls for payments of as much as $20 for customers who bought CDs between 1995 and 2000. But so far, only a few people have signed up, and officials fear the money will go begging.

In September, the five top U.S. distributors of compact discs and three large music retailers agreed to pay $143 million in cash and CDs to settle allegations they cheated consumers by fixing prices.

The lawsuit alleged that the companies _ upset with low prices charged by some stores _ conspired with retailers to set music prices at a minimum level, effectively raising the retail prices consumers paid for CDs.

Part of the settlement _ about $44 million in cash _ is earmarked to pay customers from $5 to $20, depending on how many people wind up dividing the money.

By the end of December, only about 30,000 people nationwide had applied for a piece of the pie, a tiny fraction of the number the settlement could handle.

"The response thus far has been fairly abysmal," said Washington Attorney General Christine Gregoire, who's been on morning radio shows to promote the settlement.

Gregoire was among the attorneys general of 41 states and commonwealths who accused record companies of conspiring with music distributors to boost the prices of CDs between 1995 and 2000.

The companies settled rather than wage a costly legal battle.

The settlement's Web site has been up for a month, and legal notices have been published in TV Guide, Parade and other national magazines, but the response rate has been very low, said Tina Kondo, a senior assistant attorney general in Gregoire's office.

"I guess people don't like to read legal notices," Kondo said.

Gregoire and other officials hope a radio advertising campaign set to launch soon will boost interest in the settlement.

Anyone who bought a CD, cassette tape or vinyl record at a retail store between 1995 and 2000 is eligible. The application window closes March 3.

You don't even need a receipt to prove you bought CDs by Hole, Metallica or Shania Twain in 1998. Just click to the settlement's Web site, answer three questions and fill in your name and address. But don't try to recoup the entire cost of your music collection _ only one claim per customer.

While 41 states took on the music companies, consumers in all 50 states are eligible for the cash.

There is one catch. If more than about 8.8 million people apply, in which case the per-person share would drop below $5, the customer part of the settlement is to be canceled because sending out such small checks would be too expensive.

Instead, the money will go to public entities and nonprofit organizations in each state to promote music programs. The settlement already calls for those organizations to receive 5.5 million CDs valued at $75.7 million.

The music distributors participating in the deal are Bertelsmann Music Group, EMI Music Distribution, Warner-Elektra-Atlantic Corp., Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group. Also included in the deal were three national retail chains: Trans World Entertainment, Tower Records and Musicland Stores, a division of Best Buy Co. Inc.


On the Net:

settlement details,
Old 16th January 2003
Gear Addict
🎧 15 years
Agreed, Jules, doesn't look like much of a "landmark agreement" to me, seems they just agreed not to try to screw each other with new legislation.
Old 17th January 2003
Gear Head
Lars FM's Avatar
🎧 15 years
I think its quite an agreement that they finally found out not to fight each other, but at the end of the day, it won't prevent people from copying copyrighted material, be it music or films, maybe the industry should return to videos and cassettes instead of DVD's and CD's . As we all know the format doesn't really matter and they tried it before and lost.....
Where i live (Denmark) they put a tax on the media (both digital and analog) with part of the tacx income going to the copyright organisations, so that at least some money go back to the copyright owners. Annoying if you're only using CD's for backing up your hard disc, but its a solution anyway
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