Recording Acad joins fight on antipiracy bill

WASHINGTON — The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences shared a little Grammy glamour with Capitol Hill Wednesday.

Org honored Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Mary Bono (R-Palm Springs) for giving the music industry a helping hand, as well as Natalie Cole for her 30 years in showbiz.

The Academy also used the high-profile event to throw its weight behind an antipiracy bill that has entertainment and technology lobbyists in a frenzy.

Known as the “Induce Act,” the legislation would usher in the most sweeping changes to current copyright law since the Supreme Court blessed the VCR in 1984.

Movie and music biz pushed the bill as a way to deflect criticism the recording industry has received for suing fans who illegally swap music over the Internet.

Legislation would make it a crime for peer-to-peer companies to make CDs or DVDs available without permission from the copyright holder. In essence, it’s a way to target companies who “induce” individuals to engage in piracy.

Consumer electronics companies are on high alert, arguing the bill’s language is overly broad and could snare companies that have nothing to do with the online P2P world. Critics raised such a ruckus at the last Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the topic that Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) asked the U.S. Copyright Office to rewrite the bill or at least offer some detailed suggestions.

That office plans to do so today. Hatch also asked for input from anyone with a dog in the fight.

Offering input

Three dozen lobbyists showed up for a 2½-hour meeting at the Copyright Office Tuesday afternoon to contribute more industry input. Those at the table included reps from the Motion Picture Assn. of America and the Recording Industry Assn. of America, Time Warner, Viacom, the Business Software Alliance, the Center for Democracy & Technology, the Consumer Electronics Assn., the Future of Music Coalition, the NetCoalition, Public Knowledge, SBC and Verizon.

Even the Recording Academy, which rarely gets involved in specific battles on Capitol Hill, is making time for this one.

Org’s prexy Neil Portnow spent Wednesday buttonholing lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

“We want to do everything we can to make sure artists are paid for their work,” Portnow said as he sat in Hatch’s office waiting for some time with the senator. “These (P2P networks) are an industry that has sprung up that is based on offering pirated works.”

Tech companies may be saved by the bell — at least for now.

One GOP source said there was slim — if any — chance such a controversial bill could make it to the president’s desk with so little time left on the congressional calendar.

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