Contact FreedomWorks

400 North Capitol Street, NW
Suite 765
Washington, DC 20001

  • Toll Free 1.888.564.6273
  • Local 202.783.3870


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