Tech Companies Defend Anti-Piracy Push, Advise Caution

Following the Broadcast Protection Discussion Groupis (BPDG) release of their proposed methods for copy protection technologies, representatives from technology companies submitted testimony to the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property outlining their concerns about the impact it could have on innovation, and encouraged less -- not more -- government regulation. According to a CNet article:

A hearing at the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property saw Microsoft, Adobe Systems, SunnComm and CenterSpan Communications outline the benefits of anti-piracy technology, saying it protects content while expanding consumer choice. But they emphasized the dangers of a broad mandate from legislators.

"Regulatory action, if any, will be most effective where it does not dampen private-sector incentives for innovation, restrict competition, or make it more difficult or costly for industry to respond to DRM circumventions by hackers," Will Poole, vice president of Microsoft, said in his testimony. However, "broad regulatory mandates prompted by industry-specific concerns are particularly ill-suited to the growing diversity of digital content."

However, other groups are concerned. The Computer and Communications Industryis comments last week expressed concern about the BPDGis decision-making process:

Worse, we fear the BPDG approach to intellectual property will ultimately bring all of IP into ill repute. Maximalist approaches that treat consumers not as partners but as parties from which to extract only profits will breed contempt for law as surely as Prohibition ever did, and thereby encourage the piracy this effort is suppoed to prevent.

The BPDG approach has been marred by repeated and credible claims of back-room dealing by a small number of parties who have excluded most participants from real decision making. Such closed-door talks raise not only issues of fairness and copyright, but competition law as well.

The BPDGis proposals are intended to form part of the regulations about encryption of digital broadcast, and the group is made up of electronics and technology companies, film studios and TV networks. You can read the article in full at the CNet Web site.