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Drafted Bill Would Have Government Select and Control Digital Copy Protection

11 Sep, 2001 By: Jessica Wolf

A draft Senate bill would require all digital devices —including computers, software, digital audio and video recorders and personal data assistants — to use government-selected security technologies, according to a report on technology Web site Webnoize.

The drafted bill would also make it illegal to transmit digital content with altered security schemes.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-SC), chair of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, has not yet been introduced or even finalized but Webnoize obtained a copy of the in-progress draft of the bill and reported sources expect Sen. Hollings to introduce a relatively unchanged version to the Senate this fall.

If passed, the law would put the Secretary of Commerce in charge of choosing security technologies and would require devices to include all certified technologies —not just one.

The bill, according to the Webnoize report, is intended to address the fact that few digital devices use copy-control systems and consumers have many methods of copying and redistributing material, especially over the Internet.

This bill goes a step further than the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which made it illegal to break security codes or release devices that allow for security breaking. This bill would also make it illegal to make available “any copyrighted material or other protected content” with removed or modified security features, Webnoize reported.

Computers, audio or video players, recording software that can save protected audio or video files to a hard drive and other similar technology that ignores copy-control information would be illegal under the proposed law.

Manufactures of such products could face up to a $500,000 fine for each device and possible jail time, according to the Webnoize story.

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