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NEWS FROM THE LIBERTARIAN PARTY
2600 Virginia Avenue, NW, Suite 100
Washington DC 20037
World Wide Web: http://www.LP.org
For release: April 10, 2002
For additional information:
George Getz, Press Secretary
Phone: (202) 333-0008 Ext. 222
New copyright protection bill would turn
government into entertainment 'rent-a-cop'
WASHINGTON, DC -- The Consumer Broadband and Digital Television
Promotion Act (CBDTPA), a bill that would supposedly reduce digital
piracy, should be rejected by Congress because it would turn the
government into a "rent-a-cop" for the entertainment industry, the
Libertarian Party said today.
"The Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act will not
only inconvenience consumers and throw roadblocks in the way of new
technology, it will vastly expand the power of the government," warned
the party's executive director, Steve Dasbach.
"While the federal government may have a legitimate role in protecting
copyrighted material, that role does not extend to acting as a
technology rent-a-cop to protect the profits of huge entertainment
corporations like Disney, Sony, and DreamWorks."
Last week, Senator Ernest F. Hollings (D-SC) filed S-2048, the Consumer
Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act.
The bill would make it a federal crime -- punishable by five years in
jail and a $500,000 fine -- to sell software or hardware that does not
contain shielding measures that make it impossible to play or copy
protected materials like songs, movies, or TV shows.
The bill's provisions would apply to computers, video-editing software,
CD players, VCRs, MP3 players and software, DVD players, and
televisions, among others. The copyright-protection technology would be
determined either by manufacturers and entertainment companies, or
mandated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The CBDTPA is allegedly designed to stop digital piracy, which has
become an increasing problem now that everything from songs to movies
are in digital form, and downloadable from the Internet.
But the CBDTPA goes far beyond any reasonable role the government might
have in protecting copyrighted works, said Dasbach.
"According to the Constitution, the federal government has the power to
'promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for
limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive rights to their
respective writings and discoveries,'" he noted. "In other words,
Congress can grant exclusive copyrights, which entertainers can defend,
as necessary, by filing copyright infringement lawsuits.
"The CBDTPA, by contrast, gets the federal government involved in the
production of everything from televisions to computers, and software
programs to operating systems. And, instead of just targeting criminals
who illegally steal copyrighted materials, it treats every consumer as
a potential digital pirate -- while turning federal bureaucrats into
the Digital Police."
Further, said Dasbach, the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television
Promotion Act would:
* Inconvenience consumers who want to use copyrighted materials they
"The bill would make it impossible for you to turn a CD you purchased
into MP3 songs to play on your computer," he said. "It guts the
traditional notion of 'fair use,' which allows consumers non-commercial
* Act as an expensive form of "corporate welfare."
"Federally mandated copyright-protection technology will not only drive
up the cost of computers, DVD players, and VCRs, it may force consumers
to purchase multiple copies of movies and albums -- pouring billions of
extra dollars into the pockets of wealthy conglomerates," he said.
* Make "open-access" operating systems like Linux illegal. Linux's
source code is freely available, making it impossible to guarantee the
secrecy of the copy-protection scheme, as required by the CBDTPA.
"The bill is a dream come true for Bill Gates, because it could make it
illegal to own one of the most successful operating system competitors
to Microsoft Windows," he said. "The result would be to stifle
competition in the computer industry."
In short, the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act
is an overly broad, overly rigid, and overly intrusive response to the
problem of digital piracy, said Dasbach.
"Digital piracy is a real dilemma, and the entertainment industry has a
real challenge ahead of it -- to figure out how to make a profit and
protect artists in a digital age," he said. "But the solution is not to
pass the CBDTPA, which would turn the federal government into the
omnipresent technology police, and treat every consumer like a
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The Libertarian Party http://www.lp.org/
2600 Virginia Ave. NW, Suite 100 voice: 202-333-0008
Washington DC 20037 fax: 202-333-0072
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