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Senate voices approval for audio tape legislation

The Senate yesterday passed by voice vote a bill permitting the legal use of digital audio tape machines while compensating songwriters and diskeries for losses from home taping.

The bill, which has been sent to the White House and awaits an expected signature from President Bush, is identical to legislation that cleared the House of Representatives last month.

Compromise bill

The bill represents the culmination of a compromise reached in July 1991 between the music industry and hardware manufacturers over the proper consumer use of advanced digital recording technologies.

The legislation for the first time recognizes a consumer’s right to engage in home taping for personal use. Under the bill, however, a new technology is incorporated into DAT machines to prevent the making of digital copies from copies.

Manufacturers and importers of digital audio recording devices and blank tapes are required to make royalty payments into a fund that will be administered by the U.S. Copyright Office. Proceeds from the fund will be split among record companies, recording artists, songwriters, and music publishers.

‘International breakthrough’

Hilary Rosen, executive veepee of the Recording Industry Assn. of America, said RIAA is “very proud” the bill is expected to soon become law. “It’s an international breakthrough for the music industry and it’s a long time coming,” said Rosen.

President Bush has until Oct. 19 to sign the legislation. The bill automatically becomes law after that date if he chooses not to sign the measure.

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