CEA opposes to ‘Theft of Service’ bills

Commenting on continued efforts by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to broaden state laws against communications piracy, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) Vice President ofTechnology Policy Michael Petricone today expressed concern about broad and ambiguous bills being advanced in 10 state legislatures and called on state leaders to reject MPAA’s approach.

“Consumers’ fair use and home recording rights will be severely threatened if MPAA-backed bills are enacted. The consumer electronics industry supports serious and reasoned efforts to curb digital piracy, but MPAA’s proposed laws would have a serious and negative impact on consumer rights, technological advancement and innovation.

“Earlier this month, CEA met with MPAA to discuss changes to the MPAA-supported legislation. While some changes to the legislation were made, serious issues impacting consumers and manufacturers remain.

“This legislation would subject consumers and consumer electronics manufacturers to criminal penalties and fines based on an undefined ‘intent to defraud’ standard subject to case-by-case interpretation and expansion. For example, consumers could potentially be subject to criminal penalties if they attached a TiVo to their broadband connection if their cable agreement specified an exclusive relationship with a different manufacturer. Faced with potential liability under these laws, many retailers would choose not to sell clearly legitimate products.

“I applaud those state legislators who have put the brakes on these bills pending further information, justification and explanation of their impact on consumers and manufacturers. All states must stand up for consumers by rejecting these bills and working with Congress and the consumer electronics industry to preserve consumers’ fair use and customary home recording rights in the digital age and to protect the ability of Americans to use the Internet without fear of arbitrary penalties.”