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Bill wants online, sat broadcasters to deploy DRM

PERFORM Act would standardize royalties, stop ability to store streamed broadcasts, mandate use of DRM technology.
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Written by Richard Koman on
Democrats and Republicans are cosponoring yet another bill that requires technology companies to deploy DRM technology that would hamstring their users' legal uses of copyright material in order to prop up the Hollywood's business models.

Under the Platform Equality and Remedies for Rights Holders in Music (PERFORM)Act, reintroduced today by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Joseph Biden (D-Del.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), both Internet and satellite music broadcasters would have to pay "fair market value" for the use of copyright music libraries, News.com reports.

The bill is a direct assault on the young satellite radio industry, as well. It would stop satellite providers from allowing users to store a copy of broadcast songs.

The proposal says that all audio services--Webcasters included--would be obligated to implement "reasonably available and economically reasonable" copy-protection technology aimed at preventing "music theft" and restricting automatic recording.

"New radio services are allowing users to do more than simply listen to music," Feinstein said in a statement. "What was once a passive listening experience has turned into a forum where users can record, manipulate, collect and create personalized music libraries."

Not all recording would be banned under the bill, though. The sponsors seem to be particularly offended by any sort of active searches on the part of users.

Radio listeners would be permitted to set their devices to automatically record full radio programs on certain channels at certain times. But allowing users to program their devices to automatically find and record specific sound recordings, artists or albums would be prohibited. So-called "manual" recording would be allowed, as long as it's done "in a manner that is not an infringement of copyright."

And the bill mandates that providers deploy technology to prevent people from "separating component segments of the copyrighted material" contained in broadcasts. And they would be required to restrict users' "redistribution, retransmission or other exporting" of all or part of copyright music to other devices.

Opponents say that users have a perfect right to time-shift and even program-shift music they listen to on broadcasts by storing broadcasts for later listening and even editing.

The proposal "remains a fundamental assault on consumers' reasonable rights and expectations about home recording and fair use in any modern context," said Robert Schwartz, general counsel to the Home Recording Rights Coalition.

Gigi Sohn, president of advocacy group Public Knowledge, said the bill attempts wrongly to equate download services like iTunes with radio services.

"This bill looks to the past rather than to the future," she said in a statement, "by limiting the ability of consumers to use material to which they have subscribed and by limiting future innovations in electronics."

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