October 2, 2002
Press Release

Silicon Valley Congresswoman introduces bill to respect consumer rights and expectations

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Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) today introduced legislation designed to protect consumer’s ability to enjoy digital copyrighted material. Lofgren’s bill, the “Digital Choice and Freedom Act of 2002,” gives lawful consumers the ability to make personal uses of digital entertainment such as music, movies, and books. In addition, the bill recognizes that digital piracy will never be truly solved until consumers are given an affordable, reliable, legitimate and secure alternative.

“Consumers need a voice in this debate. Right now, it is the entertainment industry versus the technology industry, and the consumers are watching from the sidelines,” said Lofgren. “Consumers have rights and expectations that cannot be ignored by industry goliaths.”

Traditionally, copyright laws have tried to balance the interests of copyright holders in the control and exploitation of their works with the interests of society in the free flow of ideas, information and commerce. Lofgren seeks to maintain that balance in the digital age by finding ways to prevent and punish digital pirates without treating every consumer as a criminal. Current proposals to combat digital piracy focus primarily on “locking-down” content and controlling how consumers use content that has dramatically altered the balance of copyright law. Lofgren’s bill seeks to restore that balance.

Specifically, the proposed legislation will:

Allow lawful consumers to make backup copies and display digital works on preferred digital media devices.

Protect lawful consumers by prohibiting shrink-wrap licenses that limit their rights and expectations.

Clarify that lawful consumers can sell or give away their copies of digital works, just like they can with traditional hard media.

Protect lawful consumers by permitting them to bypass technical measures that impede their rights and expectations.

Provide flexibility for content owners to develop new and innovative ways to protect their content and enable lawful uses.

For example, Lofgren’s bill will allow consumers to make copies of purchased digital media for use in their car, computer or mobile device. Lofgren ultimately believes her proposal will not only benefit consumers. A legitimate alternative that respects consumer rights and expectations will spur technological innovation and lead to greater copyright protection.

“Enhancing consumer rights and technology development are the key to copyright protection,” said Lofgren. “We need innovative technologies to help the consumer stay within the limits of the law and to protect the rights of copyright holders. I believe Silicon Valley is poised to work with consumers and the entertainment industry to create the needed balance for the digital world.”

Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren is a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee and a member of the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property. Congresswoman Lofgren is a recognized leader on technology issues in Congress. She is currently a candidate for the Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, a key post in the in the House Democratic leadership. Congresswoman Lofgren is serving her fourth term in Congress and represents San Jose, California, the capitol of Silicon Valley.