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AOL Time Warner and Intel Take A Stance on Piracy

20 Mar, 2002 By: Brooks Boliek

WASHINGTON -- The country's largest entertainment company and itsbiggest computer chip maker issued a "statement of principles" the companies hope will boost attempts to end digital piracy.

While the Intel/AOL Time Warner statement expresses a belief in the "strong protection of intellectual property in both traditional and new environments," it expressly rejects government imposition of requirements on the makers of computers and other consumer products.

"We believe that the lead must come from the private sector,complemented where necessary by targeted and constructive government action," the companies said. "We do not, however, think that the government can productively or effectively mandate broad design requirements across the spectrum of products, devices, and services."

While the statement breaks little new ground, it makes good on a promise made by AOL Time Warner CEO designate Richard Parsons and Intel president and CEO Craig Barrett to Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. In ahearing last week on the issue the two executives promised the lawmaker they would develop a joint statement as a show of good will.

The fight between the two industries has drawn lawmakers' attentions recently with hearings before Leahy's Judiciary Committee and the Commerce Committee chaired by Sen. Fritz Hollings, D-S.C.

Hollings has threatened legislation that would require the industries todevelop a system to protect copyrighted works delivered via . If the industries failed to agree, the Commerce Department would develop one for them. Under the Hollings proposal, digital device makers would have to include the copy protection system.

Disney and News Corp. have been pushing lawmakers for something like the Hollings proposal. Disney CEO and president Michael Eisner has accused computer makers of encouraging piracy because they sell the enabling devices.

The Intel/AOL Time Warner statement is, in part, an attempt to ward off any broad legislative mandate.

While the companies say one "goal of these efforts is to create an overall architecture for protecting digital content throughout its distribution life so that it does not 'leak' out in an unprotected manner for easy capture by digital pirates" they stopped short of any recommendation for a fix, instead urging continued inter-industry cooperation.

"No single silver-bullet solution -- technical, legal, legislative, or business -- exists to address this thorny form of piracy," they wrote." Broad government mandates that restrict innovation, reduce competition and provide a fixed target for hackers are not the answer. Active cooperation and participation of all sectors -- content, (consumer electronics), (information technology), service providers, and government -- will be necessary to develop a range of solutions to this complex problem. "The statement came a day before News Corp. president and COO Peter Chernin is scheduled to address an industry think tank. While News Corp. officials would not comment on his speech, industry executives expect him to tell the Media Institute that the entertainment industry is being tarred with the wrong brush. Chernin is expected to defend the industry from charges that it is anti-technology, anti-consumer and opposed to the doctrine of fair use.

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