President Bush late Wednesday signed into law a bill allowing legal use of digital audio tape machines while compensating songwriters and diskeries for losses from home taping.

The bill represents the culmination of a historic 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.

Royalty payments required

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.

Split among firms

Proceeds from the fund will be split among record companies, recording artists, songwriters and music publishers.

Recording Industry Assn. of America prez Jay Berman called enactment of the legislation a major step toward protecting America’s musical heritage–and its musical future–by preserving creative incentives within the framework of new digital audio technologies.

Berman said it is fitting that the U.S. joins other countries that have already afforded protection through royalty systems.

Setting an example

“It is important that our country serve as an example for nations still considering how they will address the home recording issue,” he said.

Gary Shapiro, group veepee of the Electronics Industries Assn.’s consumer electronics group, said that “with final passage (of the bill) behind us, we can get on with the business of bringing digital audio recording technologies to market, and everyone, including consumers, can enjoy the benefits.”

National Music Publishers Assn. topper Edward Murphy said he is extremely gratified that the efforts of the music community to ensure the future economic vitality of American songwriters and music publishers have been successful.

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