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House Committee Discusses Digital Future
March 30, 2006
Thomas Mennecke
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The growing sophistication of consumer electronics continues at a spell binding pace. Consumer devices are becoming more integrated with the capabilities of the home computer and the widespread adaptation of broadband. The growing important of Bluetooth has brought about a level of interoperability who's potential is only starting to be realized.

The combination of the words "digital" and "broadband" are two words not necessarily feared by the entertainment industry, but looked upon with concern. Regardless of HD-DVD or BlueRay, digital media of various qualities continues to find its way online. Yet as HD-DVD, BlueRay and HDTV become more commonplace, the entertainment industry, particularly the MPAA, are trying to stem the tide of HD (high definition) piracy before it becomes more serious.

The degree of preventing such piracy has been the focus of considerable debate. On one side of course is the MPAA who wishes to protect its content from becoming pirate fodder. The position has merit; however consumer advocates and the electronics industry have their own interests to protect as well. In the continuing effort to strike a balance that will satisfy both sides, The Committee on Energy and Commerce will hear testimony today from both sides.

Testifying today will be high profile consumer electronics manufacturer TiVO, along with new comer Sling Media. Sling Media manufactures an interesting device called a Sling Player that retransmits a consumer’s incoming television content to any Internet-enabled PDA, smart phone, laptop, desktop or any internet-ready device.

Providing additional and perhaps alternative testimony will be the MPAA and Entertainment Software Association (ESA.) The ESA is a trade organization that protects the intellectual property right of over 90% of all entertainment software manufactures.

Caught between these sides is - as always - the consumer. An entity that provides frequent testimony on the side of the consumer, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has released a statement commending the House Committee for its concerns on the future of innovation and consumer technology. The CEA clearly supports TiVO and Sling Media, stating the House Committee should not synonomize rampant Internet piracy with a consumer's right to fair use.

"These products have nothing to do with 'P2P' or mass, indiscriminate redistribution over the internet," said CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro. "Instead, they allow law-abiding consumers to use content they have already bought and paid for in new and flexible ways.

"Just like the Betamax and the iPod, the Slingbox and TiVo rely on fair use - the ability to use content for non-infringing purposes without the explicit permission of the copyright owner. If they had been required to go to the content industry to secure advance permission, it is highly unlikely that any of these products would have reached the marketplace."

Today’s hearing will not bring about immediate policy change, but like many bills, Committee hearings are typically the genesis of future legislation.

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
Technology News :: Organizations/Initiatives

You can listen to the testimony at 1:00 EST.

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