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Business News (more headlines) 03-07-2005

CCIA Tells Supreme Court: Copyright Cartel Threatens Innovation

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Intellectual Property The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), as part of the High Tech Coalition, filed a friend-of-the-court brief today with the Supreme Court in the copyright case of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, LTD, in an effort to deny the entertainment industry veto power over the next generation of consumer and high-tech devices and services.

CCIA, in conjunction with the Consumer Electronics Association and the Home Recording Rights Coalition, filed in support of full affirmance of the Betamax Doctrine. This doctrine of "capable of substantial non-infringing use" stands as the Magna Carta of the Digital Age and of the information technology industry.

CCIA's President and CEO, Ed Black stressed that its members believe that "intellectual property protection is a vital component of the innovation process, but excessive protection can be as harmful as too little. Vigorous competition and interactive innovation, the keys to the success of all technology industries, require a well-balanced system."

As a trade association committed to representing the interests of the technology industry and its customers, CCIA has long promoted a balance between the dynamic flow of information necessary to support innovation and the protection of copyright. Manufacturers of technology products should not be under any obligation, whether legislative or judicial, to design their devices in any particular way.

CCIA and others in the High Tech Coalition told the court the Betamax doctrine has been at the foundation of this nation's explosive technological growth over the last twenty years. Although neither CCIA nor the other groups on the brief condone any business that has been built with the specific intention of inducing other to infringe copyrights, the brief stresses that the Betamax doctrine must be preserved to safeguard continued technological innovation and progress.

"Some in the content industry want to extend the power of copyright far beyond what they make themselves," CCIA and President Ed Black said. "They wish to impose on industry and consumers alike a new sort of liability, one that would severely restrict the designs of products and services and chill new technology. What they want is little short of veto power over the development of new software and other digital technologies.

"If the past is any indication, they would seek to restrict designs of many products and services capable of lawful and valuable uses, chilling any new technologies," Black continued. "Let us remember that the content community tried to block VCR, MP3 player, DVD player, the piano player and even Xerox's photocopier. In the time since the protection provided by the Betamax ruling, the pace of innovation has only increased.

"We should not try to go back to a quaint time that never really existed," Black concluded. "The problems of piracy have been with the technology community for decades and yet the market has always found a way. We ask the Court to trust in those markets again, and prevent the imposition of hindrances to innovation."

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