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    Big Technology Firms Take on Hollywood Over Piracy

    BY Rob Lever
    by Rob Lever on 1/23/03.

    Some of the biggest US technology
    firms joined Thursday with consumer organizations and others to
    fight Hollywood's demands for mandatory technology to prevent piracy
    of films and other digital entertainment.

    The new group, the Alliance for Digital Progress (ADP), includes
    Microsoft, Cisco, Intel and Apple, as well as several consumer
    groups, think tanks, taxpayer organizations and businesses.

    The alliance will lobby to dissuade Congress from passing laws
    requiring anti-piracy technology in computers, DVD players and other
    electronic devices.

    Alliance members say that they do not advocate distributing
    illegal copies, but that mandatory technology aimed at stopping
    piracy would be a solution worse than the problem.

    "Piracy of digital content is a serious, complex problem that
    concerns all of us," said Fred McClure, president of the alliance.

    "But government-designed and mandated technology that swaps the
    diversity of marketplace solutions for a 'one size fits all'
    approach is not the answer. Mandates are a mistake. A mandate will
    raise the price of everything from CD players and DVD players to
    personal computers. It will make the devices consumers own today
    obsolete. And it will stifle the innovation at the heart of digital

    Consumers and technology groups have been concerned about
    possible legislation that could require technology that makes it
    hard to copy films or music or make it impossible to play DVDs on
    more than one device.

    "We are greatly concerned that Hollywood is trying to pressure
    Congress into forcing technology mandates onto American consumers,"
    McClure said.

    "Hollywood should be working with others in the private sector to
    develop solutions to the piracy problem that will succeed in the
    marketplace and benefit consumers."

    Although the music industry said recently it would stop lobbying
    efforts for such mandates, Hollywood's main lobby group, the Motion
    Picture Association of America, has maintained its policy.

    "Hollywood leaders like Jack Valenti (of the MPAA) would have
    organized the monks to burn down Gutenberg's printing press if they
    were alive during that period of rapid change and innovation," said
    Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association
    of America, a high-tech group that is part of the alliance.

    "Legislators have heard Hollywood's pleas to stifle innovation,
    but more education will help them make informed decisions. We look
    forward to working with ADP to make sure all sides are heard when it
    comes to digital rights management."

    Digital rights advocates say Hollywood has cried wolf before,
    having sought special protection against videotapes when VHS
    technology arrived, but noted that the industry's 2002 revenues set
    a record for the third year running.

    The alliance includes several other tech firms including IBM,
    Dell Computer and Hewlett Packard; and a hodgepodge of organizations
    including Americans for Tax Reform, Citizens Against Government
    Waste, Citizens for a Sound Economy and the Competitive Enterprise