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3/4/2003
02:07 PM
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Colorado Governor Vetoes Piracy Legislation

Says bill to deal with cable theft was poorly defined.

Colorado Gov. Bill Owens on Wednesday vetoed a state law backed by the Motion Picture Association of America to broaden that state's communication piracy laws. In his veto message, Owens said that while the bill may be required, it wasn't defined clearly enough. . "Although the drafters intended that the bill would only be used to prosecute the new thieves and pirates of the digital age, HB 1303 could also stifle legal activity by entities all along the high-tech spectrum," Owens wrote in his veto message.

The Consumer Electronics Association and privacy advocates were quick to applaud the governor's veto. In a statement, the CEA said, "HB1303 was promoted as addressing only theft of cable service. In reality, this vague bill would have extended and broadened the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to criminalize honest consumers and legitimate products, subjecting Colorado citizens to massive civil penalties for using lawful devices in the privacy of their homes."

According to the MPAA, similar laws have been passed in Delaware, Illinois, Michigan, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming. Similar bills are pending in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, and Texas.

The MPAA says the laws are needed to stop cable and broadband service theft. Opponents say the laws go too far and would limit Internet free speech and even the types of devices consumers could use to access the Internet.

"No one is going to go to jail for using a firewall," says Gartner analyst John Pescatore, "but these state laws do look very broad."

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