Us Legislators are readying a bill that could sharply limit Americans' rights relating to copying music, taping TV shows, and transferring files through the Internet.
At the same time, the draft legislation seen by CNET News.com would place the struggling Webcasting industry on firmer legal footing.
Two key House legislators wrote the double-edged proposal in consultation with the Library of Congress' Copyright Office. They appear likely to introduce it this month. The creation of the two-part draft comes as politicians and judges are grappling with the slippery mix of high-speed Net access, digital content, and the popularity of file-swapping networks. Last week, record labels hinted they might broaden their legal fusillade to encompass lawsuits against individuals.
"The Copyright Office recommended that Congress amend the Copyright Act," the two politicians wrote in a five-page letter sent last month to members of the subcommittee that oversees intellectual property. Coble is the Republican chairman of the panel, and Berman, who announced plans last month for an unrelated bill assailing peer-to-peer networks, is the senior Democrat. The first part of their proposal, which would limit backup copies, has already drawn objections from academics and nonprofit groups that have reviewed it.
Under current copyright law, Americans who record a TV program or radio segment generally may "sell or otherwise dispose of" that analog recording or digital file as they wish. The proposed bill would end that exemption, handing copyright owners substantial new control over the distribution of their works by curtailing copying rights granted to consumers under a doctrine known as "fair use."
"If you were to take today's episode of 'E.R.' and tape it and give it to your mother, it would be copyright infringement under this bill," said Jessica Litman, a professor at Wayne State University who specializes in copyright law.
News source: c|net