The Recording Industry Association of America this week told the Federal Communications Commission that it needed to adopt copy-protection measures for digital-audio broadcasting.
RIAA argued in a letter to the FCC on rules of the road for digital radio that 1) the ease of automatically copying a library of songs to a computer hard drive was a threat to the music industry, 2) should not be covered by existing fair use protections, and 3) was an even bigger threat than analog FM because of the superior sound quality of digital.
Not surprisingly, fair use backers reacted immediately to the suggestion that the Betamax case establishing fair use taping video taping rights should not extend to digital audio broadcasts.
Recording rights Coalition Chairman Gary Shapiro, who also heads the Consumer electronics Association, said Friday. "In the Betamax decision, the Supreme Court ruled that it was legal for Americans to record free-over-the-air content. Twenty years later, copyright holders are again claiming that tens of millions of Americans who make recordings for personal use - including use of a TiVo or digital video recorder - are copyright criminals."
RIAA argues that the Betamax case covers individual tapings of shows, not the automatic saving of entire music libraries to a computer.
Recording artists are understandably concerned by the potential threat to CD sales and their copyrighted intellectual property from mass computer downloading of songs (essentially the radio equivalent of the Napster threat), while the fair use coalition includes companies who manufacture and profit from the recording devices that allow consumers to make those copies.