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Weekly AUDIO NEWS for July 17, 2002

Copyright Claim on Silence - Composer-producer Mike Batt in London was putting together a CD for an ensemble called the Planets. The album included several variations on classical selections by famous composers. Batt included a final track titled One Minute's Silence as a nod to John Cage's infamous "4:33," which consists of a pianist doing absolutely nothing for that period of time. To further the humorous intent, Batt listed the composer of the silent final track as Batt/Cage. That was his big mistake, because next he received a standard form from the publisher of Cage's music claiming royalties on the track. Batt's mother asked, "Which part of the silence are they claiming you nicked?"

HDTV Broadcast "Flag" Controversy- Speaking of threats to fair use of things of an electronic nature, Hollywood biggies are trying to gain the right to decide what consumers may and may not record off-air for their own private use. A small group of manufacturers within the Broadcast Protection Discussion Group (BPDG) - calling themselves '5C,' want Congress or the FCC to approve a 'standard' which would allow them to have control of HDTV technology and how people use it in their homes. The effort has met with instant negative reactions from many quarters, including the president of Philips North America (and a member of the BPDG), Lawrence J. Blanford. Says Blanford: "In short, private interests are taking control of the balance among consumer rights and commercial interests, and as a result establishing public policy." The Electronic Frontier Foundation observed, "The BPDG recommendations will harm fair use...the process is flawed."

The nonprofit Computer and Communications Industry Association's president Ed Black says the whole anti-copying quest seems doubtful in and of itself. If the proposal succeeds, ordinary people (as well as teachers) would be unable to "cut and paste" sections of digital newscasts or other programming for their own use. Black goes on to warn that the BPDG would let media moguls decide which new hardware would be allowed to copy existing digital media and which not. "They'd even have a place for people who dared to use products that didn't follow their rules..." says Black. "It's called prison." The Association's website reminds visitors about the Sony Betamax litigation as well as that against cable television. The media moguls were unable to exterminate both technologies and as result both Hollywood and terrestrial broadcasters are now wealthier than ever before. The bottom line is that balanced copyright has to evolve alongwith society - and flawed copy-control paranoia is not the way to do it.

What's your  opinion on this volatile subject?

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