Washington, March 3, 2006
- Today the Home Recording Rights Coalition said it would strongly oppose H.R. 4861, which would require the Federal Communications Commission to impose anti-consumer copy control restrictions on in-home, private, personal, and lawful recording from digital radio services. HRRC Chairman Gary Shapiro said today:
"Although styled as a narrow bill giving the Federal Communications Commission "limited authority" to impose licensing conditions on new HD radios and satellite radios from XM and Sirius, H.R. 4861 is actually a fundamental attack on traditional home taping practices that consumers have engaged in since the first analog cassette recorder reached the U.S. market in 1964, and the reel-to-reel recorder decades before."
Shapiro noted that, like other proposals supported by the Recording Industry Association of America, the bill is not just a "flag" proposal aimed at preventing mass redistribution of music over the Internet. The bill gives the FCC remote control over consumers’ right to engage in reasonable and customary "unauthorized" recording, even in the privacy of their homes for noncommercial purposes. Virtually all home recording is "unauthorized" by copyright owners. But as the Supreme Court held in the Betamax case, that does not make it "unlawful." Exercising their "fair use" rights under the law, consumers have lawfully been making unauthorized tapes of music off the radio for more than 50 years.
In recent Congressional testimony, the head of the RIAA said "the one-way method of communication [enabled by HD radio] allows individuals to boldly engage in piracy with little fear of detection." In other words, the RIAA believes that when Members of Congress, their staff, and their constituents tape a song off the radio they have engaged in piracy and ought to be criminally prosecuted.
In January, HRRC testified in the Senate that since there has been no showing of harm with traditional home taping practices, it would appear that any such "flag" legislation is aimed at killing HD radio and innovative new products being launched by satellite radio companies. The handheld satellite radio devices, which are fully compliant with the Audio Home Recording Act, would allow subscribers to store music they have lawfully received via satellite. Yet, the proposed legislation would authorize the FCC to impose copying and distribution limitations on their use.
For updates on copy protection issues, and related Congressional and FCC proceedings, please visit www.HRRC.org.
The Home Recording Rights Coalition, founded in 1981, is a leading advocacy group for consumers’ rights to use home electronics products for private, non-commercial purposes. The members of HRRC include consumers, retailers, manufacturers and professional servicers of consumer electronics products. Further information on this and related issues can be found on the HRRC website, www.hrrc.org