Groups mostly applaud Clinton’s Internet Policy

WASHINGTON — President Clinton unveiled his Internet policy to generally good reviews from entertainment industry groups Tuesday, but copyright holders were hoping the White House would take a stronger stand in the debate between content providers and Internet service companies.

Both the Motion Picture Assn. of America and the Recording Industry Assoc. of America praised President Clinton’s call for ratification of international copyright treaties regarding the Internet. But sources said the policy initiative would have been more enthusiastically applauded if the White House had endorsed the views of copyright holders who want to hold telephone companies and online services responsible for acts of digital piracy conducted over their networks.

The officially titled “Framework for Global Electronic Commerce” ducked the issue, calling on the parties to work out an “equitable and balanced solution that is agreeable to interested parties.”

Pic, music biz back status quo

Telcos and companies such as America Online want to add a provision to current copyright law that would give them digital indemnity when it comes to online piracy. Content providers, including the motion picture and recording industries, say current copyright law will stand up quite well in the digital age and no special indemnification is necessary.

In addition to the White House’s call for U.S. ratification and implementation of World Intellectual Property Organization treaties, the Clinton administration also took a strong stand against regulation of the Internet. “The Internet moves too quickly for the heavy hand of government regulations,” Vice President Al Gore said during the East Room policy announcement.

Both Gore and Clinton said the government should resist the temptation to impose taxes on Internet commerce, which is expected to approach $10 billion by 2000. A document outlining the White House policy said there are growing concerns about local efforts to tax Internet commerce.

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