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Legislation considered today by the Senate Judiciary Committee would nullify rights consumers already have to record digital music, Public Knowledge said in written testimony submitted to the Committee.
The group said S. 256, the PERFORM Act, would also unfairly impose restrictions on some types of digital music, but not on others. For example, digital music transmitted over the Internet would have to comply with strict mandates on the use of Digital Rights Management (DRM), but digital music transmitted over the air by broadcasters would not.
Public Knowledge argued that the strict DRM requirements "are intended to prevent the recording of transmitted music -- an ability that users have legally exercised since the inception of recording technology and an ability that is affirmatively guaranteed by the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992."
The legislation "nominally provides" for home recording, but the definitions in the bill of "reasonable recording" are so "limited as to preclude any recording whatsoever," PK said. The result would be that consumers would need to purchase entire new sets of equipment to make all of their devices and networks DRM-compatible.
Public Knowledge also argued that it was unfair for webcasters to pay copyright royalty rates that have put many webcasters out of business, while terrestrial broadcasters pay no performance royalties at all. "Broadcasters' exemption from this performance royalty is solely a historical accident and the result of tremendous lobbying power. But there is now no reason to treat them differently from satellite and Internet radio," each of which pay those fees, PK said.