NAB Supports Bill to Protect Digital Copyprights

The National Association of Broadcasters has voiced support for proposed legislation to protect digital media copyrights.

In a letter to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, NAB President Gordon Smith said that broadcasters have a stake in protecting copyright in the digital age, particularly when said content is being sent over free DTV airwaves. Leahy’s bill, S. 968 “Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft,” the so-called PROTECT IP Act, was recently introduced in the Senate “to prevent online threats to economic creativity and theft of intellectual property, and for other purposes.”

Smith said that “failing to protect broadcast signals and their content will have a major negative effect on the availability of high-quality digital broadcasting, now and in the future. The effort to address the foreign-based websites and other entities engaged in the unauthorized redistribution of pirated works would be greatly assisted by this legislation.”

Internet piracy negatively impacts broadcasters, Smith noted, when live or recorded broadcasts are illegally retransmitted over the Internet, by the sale of unauthorized DVD copies of broadcaster signals and programming obtained off the Internet, as well as the unauthorized retransmission of pre-broadcast satellite signals online. He added that pirated works reduce the amount of revenues obtained from international syndication rights, and that this “leads to the deterioration of overall program quality on free, over the air television.”

Most of the major entertainment lobbies are backing the bill, including the Recording Industry Association of America, Independent Film & Television Alliance, Motion Picture Association of America, and National Association of Theater Owners.