MPAA Chairman and CEO Dan Glickman and CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro both testified before Congress this week on opposite sides of the analog hole debate. The analog hole refers to the ability for analog devices to strip digital content of its digital rights management (DRM) content during the digital-to-analog conversion process. The MPAA fears that this can lead to piracy, which it claims cost the film industry $6.1 billion in 2005. Glickman voiced his support for anti-piracy legislation introduced recently in the House that would seek to close this hole in DRM enforcement.
Shapiro, on the other hand, characterized the bill as “a bad solution in search of a problem.” He asserted that the legislation would be a slippery slope, expanding copyright law to an extent that could have unforeseen consequences. He indicated that the analog hole does not pose a serious threat to copyright, pointing out that the MPAA themselves claim that 90 percent of pirated copies originate from camcorders. He voiced concern over what he felt were vagaries in the proposed legislation, saying, “It is so overreaching that industry experts remain unsure which products are covered and what key provisions mean.”
Both parties invoked consumer choice in their testimony. Glickman argued that the ability for movie studios to offer content in as many venues and forms as possible depends “upon a secure environment which protects this high-value content from rampant theft and redistribution.” He asserted that the law would not affect the consumer experience, stating, “The honest consumer who does not attempt to violate her agreement with the movie distributor by making copies or redistributing the movie will have no reason to know that the analog hole has been closed.” Shapiro took another tack, characterizing the bill as suppressing consumer choice. “These technologies have made Americans creators. These new creators are your constituents and they are our consumers. They like to TiVo, time shift, place shift and manage their content and I can’t imagine they want the law changed to deny them this right,” he asserted.
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