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Tauzin eases up on industry despite copyright impasse

Jun 10, 2002  •  Post A Comment

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Billy Tauzin, R-La., will not offer digital television legislation anytime soon, despite a major impasse among industry players over how to protect digital content from copyright infringement.
The congressman has repeatedly threatened to offer a bill mandating copy-protection standards if television, motion picture, consumer electronics and computer executives can’t forge a consensus.
The standards are needed to prevent digital programming from being illegally retransmitted on the Internet, a worry that has kept Hollywood and the networks from airing premium fare in digital. A report issued last week by an industry coalition underscores that agreement is far off.
Nevertheless, the congressman will tell media executives at a Tuesday meeting in Washington of his digital TV roundtable that he’ll give them more time to deliberate as long as they make headway.
“The report, while disappointing, still represents some progress,” said Ken Johnson, Rep. Tauzin’s spokesman. “Either the industry will resolve all of these problems collectively, or Congress will do it for them.”
The report embraces use of a broadcast flag, an electronic marker to protect digital TV programs from illegal copying and redistribution on the Internet. But manufacturers and industry watchdogs complain that it proposes standards that would severely restrict the rights of consumers to make personal copies of digital programs.