Friday, March 18, 2005

Declaration of Technology Independence

The US Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has released a Declaration of Technology Independence, outlining six guidelines for Intellectual Property to ensure future innovation. From the Declaration (full text):
Recognize that founders instituted copyright law to promote creation, innovation and culture rather than to maximize copyright holders’ profits, and that it can do this only if new technologies are not stifled and fair use rights are upheld;

Reaffirm the Betamax holding that a product is legal if it has significant legal uses;

Resist pleas by big content aggregators for new laws, causes of action, liabilities and ways to discourage new product introductions;

Re-establish the fundamental rights of consumers to time-shift, place-shift and make backup copies of lawfully acquired content, and use that content on a platform of their choice;

Re-examine the length of the copyright term and explore avenues for content to be reliably available for creative endeavors, scholarship, education, history, documentaries and innovation benefiting society at large; and

Realize that our nation’s creativity arises from a remarkable citizenry whose individuality, passion, belief in the American dream and desire to improve should not be shackled by laws that restrict creativity.
The CEA, the trade organisation for the consumer elctronics industry, launched the declaration with some combative language by CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro:
"We reassert our independence from the content community's stranglehold on determining the language of the debate. We reassert our independence to counter their efforts to inhibit the democratization of creativity enabled by digital technology. And we reassert our independence to ensure that legal activities conducted by consumers remain legal and are not inaccurately labeled as 'piracy.' The principles we present today are designed to protect the critical American values of innovation and creativity while preserving basic consumer rights."
The declaration, called the Declaration of Innovation Independence in the press release, clearly plays on the rising fear about the competitive position of the US in the global (technology) market. US technology companies have increasingly expressed that the (over) regulation in the US will restrict innovation, scare off researchers and that a lack of funding for education may have a very negative effect on the future of the US technology business. And who will be the winners of US's decline? Marginally Europe, but certainly China and India. Yes, the usual suspects, again.

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