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Digital Rights Management

Digital Rights Management Bill Hits Congress


By: Spacelab Research Staff
Everybody's talking Digital Rights Management these days, and for good reason. DRM has the potential to become one of the biggest defining actions for the next few years, affecting Internet radio, satellite radio, and cable in how music is transmitted in the digital age.

Digital rights management would require broadcasters to enhance their broadcasts with a new content protection that would control how they get recorded. It would also create a uniform rate standard of paying for the license of these works rather than different mediums having different rates of paymant.

Congress is currently reviewing the issue, known as the Platform Equality And Remedies For Rights Holders In Music Act. It's being introduced by Dianne Feinstein, Lindsey Graham, Joseph Biden, and Lamar Alexander; an equal split of Democrats and Republicans. Who says that they can't get along on Capitol Hill? Bipartisan = twice the congressional fun. Two great tastes that taste great together (that sounds so wrong the way I just wrote it).

The law would put certain provisions into play to restrict but not overtly control a listener's ability to record and archive music broadcasts for their own personal use. It's a tough issue, as the digital era gives us tantalizing possibilites of access and listenability, but high quality digital means that we're less inclined to buy the music. You don't buy stuff you get for free, right?

So DRM would still let you record digital broadcasts, but not do detailed searches for a certain artist. Say you wanted to record a digital channel during a certain time, you could still do that. If you wanted to record a certain artist whenver they popped up on that channel, you couldn't do that.

Both sides are still struggling to define what broadcast and archive means. Some look back to AM/FM radio for definition, like the senators who support the bill, and the RIAA. Others say that was a definition that made sense during the halcyon days of analogue media, but are outdated in today's digital landscape, like the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

This bill is destined to set the tone for years to come as the Internet's wireless future seems to be shifting from downloading and ownership to streaming and ready access at all times.


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