• United States
Contributing Writer

Music and IT groups try to make peace on copyright

Jan 23, 20032 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Spotlight time for digital rights

What can make the record industry and software industry get along? The fear of government involvement.

Afraid of what heightened regulations might do to computer, music and movie sales, representatives from both industries got together to settle their differences on copyright infringement.

Companies such as Adobe, Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Intel and Dell joined forces with the Recording Industry Association of America to agree to do everything in their power to ward off government interference in protecting copyrights.

Under the guise of their representative organizations the Business Software Alliance and the Computer Systems Policy Project – the software and hardware powerhouses vowed to aggressive measures to deter digital piracy. At the same time, the RIAA will dissuade the government from requiring manufacturers and distributors of entertainment devices to install lockdown features.

This is a big step forward in what was shaping up to be an ugly battle in Congress. Though some senators and representatives are still anxious to take up arms against the issue, signs that both sides of the debate are willing to work together might avoid heavy regulation. In the end, this could save the computing industry a lot of money in extra hooks to their equipment.

Not present at the negotiating table was the Motion Picture Association of America, which has also been vocal about the damage copyright infringement is doing to its industry. Feeling the threat of Napster-type sites as well as hard-copy pirates, the MPAA has held firm on the need for government involvement in the issue.

As this is all happening, the parent company of Kazaa, a well-visited peer-to-peer file sharing site, is coming under fire. Sharman Networks tried to use the argument in court that because it is based in Australia and incorporated in the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu, it did not fall under U.S. laws regarding copyright infringement. However, the court ruled otherwise, allowing a suit filed against the company to go forward.

Depending on the outcome, Kazaa could end up thwarted like Napster, leaving the future of this genre of peer-to-peer sites uncertain.