WASHINGTON – President Clinton received welcome praise from corporate copyright holders Friday in a letter commending his administration for its tough stand on international copyright issues.

The 21 signatories praised the administration for its “leadership role at the World Intellectual Property Organization” (WIPO), and it also called on Clinton to reject requests from telephone companies “to weaken copyright protection in the digital environment.”

Among those signing the letter were: Clarence Avant, chairman, Motown Record Co.; Frank Biondi, chairman and CEO Universal Studios; John Cooke, the Walt Disney Co., exec vice president; and Jack Golodner, AFL-CIO Dept. for Professional Employees.

One standard fits all

For the first time in 25 years, WIPO, a United Nations agency, is meeting in Geneva to approve copyright treaties in several areas including literary and artistic works. The goal of the meeting is to ensure that electronic transmission of copyrighted material is subject to the same rules as other works.

As the world enters the digital age, U.S. telcos and online services say they want to revise portions of national and international copyright law to ensure they will not be liable for copyright violations committed by third parties. But copyright holders oppose the revisions, saying the telcos are trying to undercut the progress of the Geneva talks.

An ‘absurd’ tack

“It’s absurd that certain telecommunications and online service companies are trying to sidetrack this international treaty when America clearly has the most to gain as the world’s largest exporter of copyrighted works,” said Jason Berman, chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Assn. of America.

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