February 9, 2007 | By Derek Slater

The Business of Threatening New Technologies

This week, Hollywood started to ramp up its lobbying efforts by holding a symposium in D.C. called "The Business of Show Business." During a luncheon speech, Warner Bros Chairman and CEO Barry Meyer took some shots at Consumer Electronics Association President and CEO Gary Shapiro and stated, "history shows that [the major movies studios] are often adapters and embracers of new technologies."

...except for all those times when they've tried to crush innovation instead. In response, CEA has published this open letter [DOC] from Shapiro that makes the real historical record plain: (links, mine)

"In the last few decades, the motion picture industry came late to digital television and actually used every means possible to block new useful technology. Consider:

- the lawsuit seeking to stop the VCR
- the efforts to pass legislation blocking video rentals
- the lawsuit against ReplayTV, a PVR start-up, (the company was bankrupted by the lawsuit)
- the lawsuit against ClearPlay, a company with technology that deleted obscene content
- the lawsuit against Sima, a company which sells editing technology to wedding videographers
- the lawsuit against Kaleidescape, a company that lets consumers send lawfully acquired DVDs around their home
- the lawsuit against Load 'N Go, a company which sold pre-loaded iPods with DVDs, as long as the consumer also bought the DVD.

"The recent legislative efforts to mandate technological changes to stop copying, block the so-called 'analog hole' and impose other 'fixes' on the technology industry certainly make your claim of embracing new technology a bit hollow.

"We both agree that those who profit from the unauthorized, mass redistribution of content do so illegally. And we both agree that the creative community deserves fair compensation for its works, which are enjoyed by so many around the world. Where we apparently disagree is in how to treat ordinary, law-abiding citizens. Consumers should not expect free, but they do expect freedom -- the freedom to enjoy their lawfully acquired content when, where and how they want. That freedom is enabled by today's digital world and should be embraced by the content community."

Read the whole letter here [DOC], as well as Shapiro's speech at CES [PDF].

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