September 9, 2005 | By Fred von Lohmann

RIAA Trying to Copy-Protect Radio

For some time, the RIAA has been pushing the FCC to impose a copy-protection mandate on the makers of next-generation digital radio receiver/recorders (think TiVo-for-radio).

Now, as reported by Public Knowledge's Mike Godwin, the entire music industry has taken up the cause and is beating the drum in Congress.

Never mind that digital audio broadcasting is not significantly greater in quality than regular, analog radio. Never mind that it's of vastly less quality than that of audio CDs. In spite of these inconvenient facts, the RIAA is hoping that the transition to "digital audio broadcasting" will provide enough confusion and panic that they can persuade Congress or the FCC to impose some kind of copy-protection scheme or regulation on digital radio broadcast.

In other words, the music industry is basically saying that, where recording from next-generation radio is concerned, government must step in and freeze innovation to ensure that you can never do anything that you couldn't do with an analog cassette deck in 1984. This, despite the fact that Congress specifically approved of digital recording off the radio in the Audio Home Recording Act in 1992. So this is about stopping music fans from doing things that are perfectly legal under copyright law.

For a complete explanation of why this is a very, very bad idea, read EFF's comments [PDF] to the FCC on this topic.

Update (Sept. 20): Slashdotters take note: you can tell Congress to reject the RIAA's efforts to dumb-down digital radio using EFF's action alert, Don't Touch That Dial, RIAA! It only takes a few minutes to make a real difference.

And if you haven't already, please join EFF as a member today. Every new member gives us more clout on Capitol Hill when we speak up to defend innovation and safeguard your rights.


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