Senator proposes consumer copy protection technology labeling

Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, has introduced federal legislation that would require that software, music and movies employing copy-protection schemes be clearly labeled with consumer warnings.

The measure would grant the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the power to establish labeling methods for technology that limits the ability of consumers to freely copy, distribute or back-up digital content.

“While digital media companies are racing to develop technologies to combat piracy, some of these anti-piracy measures could have the effect of restricting lawful, legitimate consumer uses as well as unlawful copying,” Wyden said. “My bill says that if digital content is released in a form that prevents or limits reasonable consumer use, consumers have a right to be told in advance.”

The law would not restrict the ability of companies, vendors or distributors to employ whatever anti-piracy technologies they desire, as long as those technologies are clearly labeled for the consumer in advance of purchase.

Wyden’s proposed law is called the “Digital Consumer Right to Know Act.” No companion bill has yet been introduced in the House of Representatives.

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