GOP: C’right a priority

Net protection issue to be addressed, led by Sen. Allen

WASHINGTON — The Senate’s GOP tech task force announced Thursday that it will make copyright issues a top priority, drawing quick praise from Motion Picture Assn. of America prexy Jack Valenti.

Sen. George Allen (R-Va.), a frosh lawmaker who has been named to head the task force, said it is clear the Republican-controlled Congress must address copyright in the digital age, and address it fast.

While serving as Virginia governor, Allen enacted policies helpful to high-tech companies including AOL Time Warner.

“We trust free people and free enterprise,” he said. “And when members of the technology industry have concerns about regulations and policies affecting their enterprises and entrepreneurial ventures, we want them to know that our door or portal is always open.”

Any and all help is good news for Valenti, who is launching an intense campaign to educate Capitol Hill lawmakers about the pressing need to extend copyright protection to the Internet and digital TV.

Otherwise, Hollywood studios will be reluctant to open up their libraries to these new distribution avenues.

“The major film studios will have movies online legitimately in the next six months. I am heartened by the task force’s belief that Congress should stand in solid support of copyright so that legal digital distribution of such materials can continue to progress,” Valenti said.

Valenti’s efforts are parallel to a similar campaign being waged by the Recording Industry Assn. of America, which has hired an impressive list of well-connected lobbyists to advance its battle for copyright protection on the Internet.

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