HEADLINE: HEARING OF THE COURTS, THE INTERNET, AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
SUBJECT: H.R. 4586, THE FAMILY MOVIE ACT OF 2004
CHAIRED BY: REPRESENTATIVE LAMAR SMITH (R-TX)
MARYBETH PETERS, REGISTER OF COPYRIGHTS, COPYRIGHT OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES, THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS; AMITAI ETZIONI, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR, THE INSTITUTE FOR COMMUNITARIAN POLICY STUDIES, THE GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY; JACK VALENTI, PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, MOTION PICTURE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA;
PENNY NANCE, PRESIDENT, KIDS FIRST COALITION
LOCATION: 2141 RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C.
REP. LAMAR SMITH (R-TX): The Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property will come to order. I will recognize myself for an opening statement shortly and then recognize other members who wish to give opening statements as well.
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REP. BOB GOODLATTE (R-VA): Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have a statement I'd ask be made a part of the record. And I want to thank you first for holding this hearing and for your leadership in attempting to resolve this issue, because I think it is an issue well worth resolving, both for the motion picture industry and for consumers.
I also want to thank you for assembling in an incredibly impressive panel. Marybeth Peters is well-known to this committee. Dr. Etzioni has been around almost as long as Jack Valenti. (Laughter.) I read his sociology books when I was in college 30-plus years ago. And Ms. Nance and her organization are an important group that have worked with the entertainment industry on a number of occasions to promote kid-friendly entertainment, and I think that's a valuable asset both for, again, families and the entertainment industry.
And finally Jack Valenti. I have, on a number of occasions enjoyed at Disney-MGM studio in Florida, the Great Movie Ride, or Great American Movie Ride. No one has had a greater movie ride than Jack Valenti. And I thank you for what you've done for decades to promote a great industry. And the corollary to that has been your championing of intellectual property rights, and the work not only in this country but around the world to protect them has been very important, not just for the movie industry but for establishing the principle that intangible property is every bit as important as tangible personal property when we protect those rights. So I certainly understand your perspective.
I also, though, very much understand that parent, because I've been in that situation with a child who knows about that latest, absolutely most popular movie that's out there and just demands day after day to see it. And you'd say, well, you know, I know there's some stuff in there that I'd really not like to have my 7-year-old, my 10-year-old, even my 12-year-old see that movie. But if I had the technology to be able to say, you can see all of it, except for these parts, even if it's not the perfect work-and I agree with you, it's not the perfect work when you take those out-that's a concern.
I also have a concern on the other hand, dealing with what impact this has on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the use of encryption that the industry has used to protect these materials. I was very involved in writing that act. I know that one of the underpinnings of the act is the prohibition against circumvention of copy protection technologies. Some have argued that these anti- circumvention measures should be weakened, but I believe that these measures are crucial tools to help content owners protect their intellectual property from piracy and unauthorized copies.
So as we work our way through this, I'd like to know-because I'm concerned that if movie editing technologies are using copy devices to crack copy protection codes to break into a DVD, even edit out certain offensive materials, that creates some concerns on my part in a slippery slope. While this legislation does not expressly allow the use of anti-circumvention technologies, it also dose not expressly prohibit it. And I'd like to know both what the implications of that are and from each of you whether that would improve the legislation if there was a provision in there that would expressly prohibit editing tools that circumvent copy protection technologies.
We'll start with Mr. Valenti.
MR. VALENTI: Copy protection technology, Mr. Goodlatte, is at the forefront of how we enter the digital age. If we are not able to protect our movies in the digital age, we don't own anything. And therefore it is literally in the vanguard-and you, I must thank you because you've been a champion of protection. Any piece of legislation that allows someone else to circumvent the encryption violates the DMCA. And I think that would be a terrible remedy to offer in any bill.
Now, you say do I think this bill ought to have a specific bar against decryption, circumventing encryption? I sure do, but that doesn't mean I support the bill. I think the essence here-and if I may spring from the rostrum of your question?
REP. GOODLATTE: As long as you allow me time to let the other three answer the question.
MR. VALENTI: Because the short answer is, absolutely. We cannot allow anybody to circumvent encryption. That is going to be our technological salvation in the years to come, and without it the whole world is going to be swarming all over our material. But to leap from that rostrum to Congressman Forbes-and I understand where you're coming from. I understand where Congressman Goodlatte is. I'm a father of three children. I was very stern, my wife and I, when our kids were growing up. Even though I invented the rating system, I also observed it. And there were certain movies I wouldn't allow my children to see.
I don't believe children ought to be able to see every movie they want to see. I think every now and then, to coin a phrase, just say no, which is what a lot of parents do. If parents have a casual regard for what their children see, then there's no way you're going to salvage that child's future conduct. So I share everything you say, Chairman Forbes. I'm with you on that.
REP. SMITH: The gentleman from Virginia is recognized for an additional minute so the witnesses can respond to the question as well.
REP. GOODLATTE: That's great.
Thank you, Mr. Valenti.
MS. NANCE: Well I don't know that I have a comment on encryption, but you know, I just want to sort of point out here, this is the DVD that I bought. It's mine. I plugged it in, I used it. It didn't change it. It's exactly the same as I bought it. Even if I wanted to change it, it's mine. Once I own it, I shouldn't be stealing it. It belongs to me.
A couple of other things is there has to be a market for something for you to sell it. And while there's a huge market out there for parents to protect their kids from violence, graphic sex, nudity, profanity, there probably isn't much of a market to do all these other things that you're concerned about. And I understand. I can appreciate where you're coming from.
REP. GOODLATTE: Let me take back my time, because I appreciate that. But indeed there is a huge market to do all these other things we're concerned about. It's called KaZaA and Napster and --
MS. NANCE: Those are stealing, though.
REP. GOODLATTE: Right. And we want to make absolutely sure that we don't do anything that would put us on a slope towards telling the intellectual property community as a whole, including the motion picture industry, that we're going to have a situation where they have begun the process of eroding their ability to protect their intellectual property.
MS. NANCE: No, I completely agree with you. I've fought these peer-to-peer sites tooth and nail over pornography.
REP. GOODLATTE: Ms. Peters?
MS. PETERS: I'm an extremely strong supporter of technologies that are used by copyright owners to protect their works. As I understand the technology here, it does not implicate the anti- circumvention provisions.
REP. GOODLATTE: That's good. So, in other words, if we were to put a provision here to say that other people attempting to do other things could not invade the language of the DMCA, you would, (a), agree with that, and (b), feel that it would not be harming companies like ClearPlay's opportunity to do what they're doing.
MS. PETERS: No. That's right.
REP. GOODLATTE: Dr. Etzioni.
MR. ETZIONI: Thanks for not giving a number to my age. (Laughter.) I see no reason these two concerns cannot be reconciled by allowing invasion for this purpose and not for sale or any other purpose, not setting a precedent for other violation. Let me just add one sentence. Several times we heard about the right of the creator of those works as if one right is an absolute and trumps all other rights. Ninety-five percent of what we do in ethics and much of what we do in law is try to deal with conflicting rights. In this case, it's the right of parents to bring up decent citizens against the right of a creator of a work to insist that children will see all of it and not a part of it.
REP. GOODLATTE: Thank you for your forbearance, Mr. Chairman.