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Business News (more headlines) 02-01-2014

CEA Emphasizes Importance Of Fair Use To Free Speech And Innovation

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The following statement is attributable to Michael Petricone, senior vice president, government and regulatory affairs, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), in anticipation of House Judiciary Committee hearing on the scope of fair use:

"We welcome this Judiciary Committee hearing exploring the importance of fair use - the right of users to make limited use of copyrighted material without permission of the owner.

"It is appropriate that this hearing occurs almost exactly 30 years after the Supreme Court's Betamax decision, which invoked fair use in granting viewers the right to record and time shift television broadcasts. While opposed by the content interests, this fair use ruling unleashed a wave of new products and created the pre-recorded video industry, which now accounts for the majority of Hollywood revenues.

"Fair use is the legal principle protecting technologies embedded in American life. The Betamax paved the way for the DVR, allowing you to make fair use copies of TV shows for viewing at your convenience. Digital music players enable you to make "fair use" copies of your existing CD collections and move digital files from device to device. You couldn't use search engines if they weren't able to make an index - i.e. a fair use, protected copy - of existing Web pages.

"In essence, fair use prevents incumbent interests from squashing competitors by exercising a veto over innovation or free speech. Fair use enables Jon Stewart to poke fun at the news media, and allows a politician to point out the inaccuracies in his or her opponent's television advertisements. The fact that United States law recognizes fair use explains, in good part, why the technology and Internet revolutions occurred here in our country, as opposed to elsewhere on the planet.

"As this Committee moves forward to examine U.S. copyright law, we urge you to recognize the critical importance of fair use and ensure that the American fair use doctrine remains strong and vibrant."

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