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U.S. Reintroduces Law Requiring DRM For Digital, Internet Radio

Opponents of the Perform Act, introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and others, say it restricts consumers from making lawful use of the music they've paid for.
However, opponents say the law would restrict consumers from making lawful use of online recordings. Copyright holders are already being paid for music played using digital licenses, notes Derek Slater, activist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

"We're talking about totally lawful home taping. We're not talking about Internet piracy. We're talking about people making traditional lawful use of the music they're receiving," Slater says. Consumers have been able to record radio broadcasts for more than 25 years; the Perform Act would restrict that right over the Internet, digital, and cable media, he adds.

XM Satellite Radio also opposes the legislation. A company spokesman says in an e-mail statement: "Congress rejected this ill-advised legislation last year and we believe that well-informed legislators will reject it once again."

The RIAA sued XM Satellite Radio last year for its role in developing devices like the Pioneer Inno and Samsung Helix, which allow for recording over XM radio. Attorney Kraig Baker, with the Seattle law firm Davis, Wright, Tremain, said the issue revolves around control. XM radio, like CDs, give users the ability to manage the service, controlling which songs they hear, and saving songs for later listening. Licensing fees have traditionally been higher as consumers get more ability to control the service.

The Perform Act--it stands for "Platform Equality and Remedies for Rights Holders in Music"--would also require broadcasters to pay "fair market value" for licenses. Licensees would not pay different rates based on the medium they broadcast through.

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Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
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Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
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