MPAA eyes Feb. 15 copyright agreement


The Motion Picture Association of America said Monday that negotiations
between content providers, consumer-electronics manufacturers and computer
makers on how to handle digital copyrights could be completed by Feb. 15 if all
parties would agree.

'If agreement cannot be reached by that date, we will, together, go to the
Congress or the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] and jointly ask for
their help,' wrote MPAA president Jack Valenti to Consumer Electronics
Association president Gary Shapiro.

Valenti's letter was in response to a Nov. 26 letter from Shapiro suggesting
that the sticky issue of digital copyrights be given to an industry working
subgroup to try to come to quick resolution.

Specifically, the industries cannot reach an agreement on how to copy-protect
digital-television programming so that it cannot be copied and redistributed
over the Internet.

Industry technical working groups have developed several technical answers to
solve the problem, such as watermarks, but the companies involved cannot agree
on how much protection digital programming warrants.

Content providers are concerned about losing control of their programming,
while distributors want to allow a certain amount of copying.

Industry representatives have met twice with key House lawmakers who have
made it clear that they want these obstacles resolved quickly so that the
transition to digital television can progress.