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Thu, Jan 16, 2003 - Page 12 News List

Music, computer industries agree on plan to curb piracy

BLOOMBERG , WASHINGTON

Vivendi Universal SA and other music distributors struck an agreement with computer software and hardware makers including Microsoft Corp and Dell Computer Corp on how to fight digital piracy of recordings.

The Recording Industry Association of America, the Business Software Alliance and the Computer Systems Policy Project agreed on a set of principles to balance the rights of copyright owners and consumers by enforcing existing laws, officials said. Today they asked the US government not to mandate anti-piracy methods.

The music industry's position is a split from its traditional allies, movie producers such as Walt Disney Co, which want the US Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to impose restrictions on devices that could duplicate films illegally. The accord is the first step in building a coalition to oppose government intervention, officials said at a news conference.

"The world's leading technology companies and the music industry have reached a landmark agreement," said Robert Holleyman, chief executive of the Business Software Alliance. The accord "states our strong opposition to attempts to insert the government in the technology-developing process."

The three groups also agreed to promote public awareness about the ethics of digital copying, work to satisfy consumer expectations, improve public dialogue about the issue and develop technology to prevent unauthorized copying while respecting privacy and other individual rights.

Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America, said the film and music industries have different strategies for fighting illegal copying.

"We are not prepared to abandon the option of seeking technical protection measures via the Congress or appropriate regulatory agency," Valenti said in a statement. "Designing ways to protect valuable creative works is very much in the long-term best interests of consumers and indispensable to the nourishment of our nation's economy."

US Representative Rick Bouch-er, a Democrat, said the absence from the accord of the MPAA, Verizon Communications Inc, Gateway Inc, Sun Microsystems Inc and other key organizations will limit the effectiveness of the coalition.

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