WASHINGTON — Film industry officials, in testimony before a Senate panel, pressed Tuesday for legislation that would require electronics manufacturers to equip their videocassette recorders with a device to prevent the copying of many movie cassettes.
Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Assn. of America, said such a device could be installed for less than 15 cents a unit and would foil "back-to-back" copying, the practice of connecting two video recorders to produce xunauthorized duplicates of a videocassette.
"Unauthorized back-to-back copying is a malevolent threat to the creative future," Valenti said, calling the practice "a deadly virus."
"Every unauthorized copy made from a prerecorded videocassette potentially displaces a sale or rental of a prerecorded videocassette," he said.
But a VCR manufacturers group asserted that such legislation is unwarranted, saying that the movie industry cannot show that it is suffering losses from movie copying.
"When you can rent a movie for $1, why would it make sense to spend $6 or $8 for a movie rental and a blank tape? In no way are video recorders causing harm to Hollywood producers." Rather, he said, VCRs will provide $1.8 billion in videocassette business for the film industry this year.