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DRM threat to net radio returns

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A bill re-introduced last week to the US Senate compels digital radio broadcasters to use DRM.

The PERFORM Act was first introduced on the floor last year, and seeks to harmonize royalties between different digital media, such as satellite and webcasters. It's intended to prevent the US's two digital satellite radio broadcasters from turning the platform into a music distribution platform.

Among other changes, PERFORM amends Section 114(d)(2) of Title 17 of the US Code, the copyright law, to ensure:

... the transmitting entity ... uses technology that is reasonably available, technologically feasible, and economically reasonable to prevent the making of copies or phonorecords embodying the transmission in whole or in part, except for reasonable recording...

Reasonable recording, as defined by the Grand Dame of California politics Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D.) last year, means that a listener can for personal use make time-shifted recordings from satellite or the net, and play them back to back.

It does not mean, she said, "is set a recording device to find all the Frank Sinatra songs being played on the radio-service and only record those songs."

That technology is trivial to implement for the satellite broadcasters, who have yet to do so. XM and Sirius are already being sued by the RIAA over their recordable digital music players, including the Samsung Helix and the Pioneer Inno (aka "The Mothership).

However, clumsy wording in the draft bill nullifies Feinstein's intentions - and fails to exclude internet broadcasts.

The expense and practicality of protecting lo-fi streams few people record is likely to be challenged by webcasters. Last year's PERFORM act got some heavyweight opposition from Clear Channel and Cox, and died quietly. ®

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