• United States
by Ann Harrison

CBS tosses Gateway digital music ad

Apr 10, 20033 mins
ComputersEnterprise Applications

* TV network says "No" to ad promoting fair use rights of digital music

PC manufacturer Gateway has developed a marketing and consumer education campaign called RipBurnRespect, which supports fair use rights of digital music. The educational campaign has a Web site, digital music promotions, and a TV ad, which CBS has refused to air.

This comes as no great surprise. CBS is owned by media conglomerate Viacom, which has interests in Paramount Pictures, video rental chain Blockbuster, MTV networks, and Simon & Schuster. The record, movie and publishing industries have opposed efforts by consumer electronics companies to develop technology that can make digital copies. They say they are trying to protect their intellectual property from piracy, especially on P2P networks.

The large media companies have been lobbying Congress hard to force consumer electronics companies like Gateway to include anticopying technology in electronic devices. Viacom was a high-profile supporter of a bill introduced last year by South Carolina Democrat Fritz Hollings that supported such measures.

Gateway says that customers have the right to burn and collect digital music in ways that do not violate copyright laws. The company makes a distinction between the fair use of digital music and the rights of recording artists, and the “illegitimate” swapping of copyrighted music on P2P networks. The Recording Industry Association of America says it welcomes Gateway’s “acknowledgments of the rights and needs of artists and record labels.”

CBS claims that the Gateway spot violates its policy against airing ads that advocate a position on controversial issues. The network also refused to run another Gateway ad last year that supported fair use rights of consumers.

Gateway says CBS should have supported the ad because it says the campaign opposes piracy while supporting the rights of consumers to make personal copies of digital material. “We believe it’s more important than ever that the rights of music fans and artists alike be understood and respected,” says the campaign Web site. The site tells consumers how to legally copy music and asks them to lobby Congress to oppose measures that block PC copying technology.

Gateway is offering free music downloads as part of its campaign. Of course, it too has a financial stake in this debate. The company hopes to sells lots of PCs with built in CD burners. Its campaign has a marketing portion that offers buyers of new notebooks or desktop PCs a “Digital Music Studio Pack.” The Pack includes a 30-day trial subscription to the Rhapsody Networks music subscription service, with 50 free burns, plus 100 MP3 downloads from, and 20 blank CD-Rs.

By refusing to run the ad, CBS/Viacom have given the RipBurnRespect campaign and TV spot valuable media coverage that far exceeds the exposure the initiative would have received on the network alone. The ad is still slated to run on several cable channels and on rival network NBC.