Skip to main content

Senate Ponders Digital Copy Dilemma

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday about how--in a post-Grokster world--to protect copyrights without discouraging technological innovation.

Witnesses have yet to be announced, but names that have been floated as possibilities are Mary Beth Peters, register of copyrights; Ali Aydar of Snocap; Cary Sherman of the Recording Industry Association of America; and Gary Shapiro of the Consumer Electronics Association.

If Aydar appears, it could be RIAA's way of showing the conversion of Napster "bad boy" Shawn Fanning to running Snocap, a file-sharing registry regime that allows artists to collect royalties.

Grokster is the Napster-like peer-to-peer computer file-sharing software company that a unanimous Supreme Court allowed to be sued for actively encouraging copyright infringement.

Protecting digital content from piracy is one of the key concerns of American business, from media to widget manufacturers given the degree to which intellectual property has been digitized and can be distributed via computer. The threat to commerce has been measured in the hundreds of billions.

Hollywood argues that insufficient protection from piracy hinders the transition to digital delivery of programming, while fair use fans counter that too restrictive a regime will unduly discourage innovation and access to information.