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HRRC Opposes RIAA Effort To Stifle Noncommercial Home Uses Of Digital Radio

RIAA Proposal Would Limit Consumers’ Rights to Copying Inside Home
Proposal Could Disable Consumer Devices

Washington, D.C., September 26, 2005 – The Home Recording Rights Coalition (HRRC) today expressed its opposition to an effort by the recording industry to revive a vague and ill-considered proposal that would hobble new digital radios with anti-recording and “place-shifting” provisions aimed at private, noncommercial home use. The Recording Industry Association of America’s (RIAA) proposal would constrain reasonable and customary consumer home practices, and could simply make it impossible for new radio receivers to function in existing home networks.

Last year, the recording industry asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to add in-home copying restrictions to the new Digital Audio Broadcasting (or “high-definition radio”) service that broadcasters are now launching. The FCC issued a Notice of Inquiry but thereafter took no action and is not expected to, especially after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the FCC lacks jurisdiction to impose a “broadcast flag” obligation on television receivers. Now, the RIAA is asking the Congress to grant special jurisdiction to the FCC to issue regulations based on the ill-formed and ill-advised RIAA proposals.

Today, HRRC Chairman Gary Shapiro said:

“The most startling aspect of the RIAA’s proposal is that it is not aimed at ‘Internet pirates’, but at noncommercial practices that millions of Americans engage in within their homes. This is very different from the TV ‘Broadcast Flag,’ which itself has been highly controversial. Unlike the TV flag, the RIAA proposal is specifically aimed at limiting home recording. While the TV flag focuses on mass, indiscriminate public redistribution over the Internet, the RIAA scheme is focused on noncommercial behavior in private homes. Indeed, the RIAA seems to contemplate some encryption scheme which would make it impossible to hook up receivers to existing home music systems. If this were to go forward, consumers would rightfully rebel at this unprecedented government intrusion into their private, noncommercial home use practices.”
In FCC filings, HRRC and others have pointed out that free terrestrial broadcasts have never been subject to prior approval from the record industry. They noted that RIAA’s proposal sets terms and conditions under which home recordings can occur, and that the implementation of this proposal via use of encryption technologies would disable listening over existing devices – whether or not the listener intended to record any content.

Shapiro stated:

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“The concerns over RIAA’s proposals have never been addressed. At a minimum, the Congress should consider them in a public hearing before writing a blank check to the FCC and the RIAA.”

For updates on copy protection issues, and related Congressional and FCC proceedings, please visit www.HRRC.org.

About HRRC
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.

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