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Weekly AUDIO NEWS for August 14, 2002

Latest on Fair Use and DRM - A number of Congressmen are leaning toward the feeling that "fair use" is just a phrase to legitimize piracy of copyrighted recorded material. The newest threat to the rights that consumers have enjoyed for decades regarding photocopies, audiotape and videotape is a so-far untitled bill to be introduced in the House of Representatives which would make major changes in the copyright law relating to digital copies of anything - from computer data backups to music recordings to HDTV telecasts. Even sharing videotaped TV programs of any kind among family or friends could become a crime. Since the famous BetaMax case and other court decisions, Americans have become very used to time-shifting TV programs, making cassette compilations and dubs of records and CDs for their own use, and more recently using their computer CD burners to copy both data and music for their own use. The standard was considered to be that as long as they didn't sell the copies they were within the law. Certainly the wholesale CD, videotape and now DVD pirating going on are outside the law should be stopped by the authorities, but the ordinary consumer feels that copying a digital CD to an analog cassette is covered under fair use.

Here is a section from an article at MusicDish e-Journal by Eric de Fontenay, titled "Striking a Note of Reason: DRM & Fair Use:"  In a digital environment, however, the relevant question is not so much what is done with copyrighted works, but the scale with which it is done. Music industry professionals are not unreasonable. Most I've met have done their share of copying for personal use as well as sporadic sharing. And we should not forget that the music industry recorded impressive growth over the same decades that consumers have had the ability to cheaply copy music.

It's not so much the actual acts of ripping, burning or sharing, but rather that, unlike the physical world, there are no limits to the scale of these activities. This has led to a knee-jerk paranoia in the industry, in part reinforced by the immense popularity of Napster and its progeny. The result is that instead of trying to stem piracy, content owners have been fixated on controlling every aspects of consumers' reasonable uses of their works.

DTS Products Hit 100 Million - Introduced in l997 with the debut of Spielberg's Jurassic Park as DTS Digital Surround, DTS-licensed technology is now found in more than 100 million consumer electronics products sold to date. Over 21,000 movie screens worldwide can now decode DTS digital soundtracks. More than 300 electronics manufacturers worldwide currently license DTS technology. Recent extensions of the original scalable digital audio architecture of DTS have included discrete 6.1 channel DTS-ES, matrix surround DTS Neo:6, and DTS high resolution 96/24 soundtracks on music and feature film DVDs.

Royalties On Used CDs Proposed - Billboard has reported that major record company execs are thinking of requiring CD retailers to pay a 6% royalty on the secondary sales of albums. A new agency that would be established would enforce a flat royalty rate on the sales of all used CDs.

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