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Business News (more headlines) 12-04-2002

GartnerG2 Survey Shows 82 Percent Of Consumers Believe Creating Backups Of Digital CDs Is Legal, Although Laws Are Vague

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Stamford, CONN., December 2, 2002 — As lawmakers and digital content companies continue to debate the right of consumers to back up digital content, an overwhelming majority of consumers believe that copying digital files is already legal, according to a survey by GartnerG2, a research service of Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT and ITB).

According to the survey, 82 percent of U.S. consumers believe it is legal to back up software and prerecorded music CDs. Seventy-five percent of consumers believe backing up video games is legal and 73 percent of consumers surveyed believe making backup copies of prerecorded videotapes and DVDs is legal.

"The reality is that current laws are vague and content companies are pushing for strict control over consumer copying behavior," said Mike McGuire, research director for GartnerG2. "Until laws are passed allowing consumers the right to back up files legally, the uncertainty about lack of basic archiving and backup capabilities will stunt growth of the online media distribution market for the next three to five years."

GartnerG2 analysts said U.S. copyright laws, specifically the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), must be modified to allow consumers to make backup copies of their content.

"Amending the DMCA to allow consumers to backup all their digital content is a reasonable compromise between consumer expectation and the reality of copyright law," said McGuire.

As consumers move to all-digital media libraries, the importance of backups and archives is essential because no physical master copies exist. Master digital files are easily damaged or destroyed due to viruses or hard-drive crashes and need to be restored.

"Digital file backups should not be thought of by content companies and lawmakers as a second copy that consumers will distribute through peer-to-peer programs, but rather as an archive that can be accessed when the original file is corrupted or the physical storage mechanism breaks down," said McGuire.

According to Gartner G2, a win-win scenario must evolve between consumers and content companies. If the current situation becomes permanent, the entire industry will suffer.

GartnerG2 surveyed a nationally representative sample of online adults and teens in July 2002. Respondents included 1,005 adults aged 18 or older and 1,009 teens aged 13 to 17.

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