MOVING RIGHT ALONG: The Recording Industry Assn. of America (RIAA) is going all out to gain support for proposed congressional legislation to force digital audio tape (DAT) manufacturers to include a microchip to prevent unauthorized copying from existing records and tapes. In fact, according to a recent report in Billboard, the RIAA's record company members will be asking employees to send telegrams to their representatives in Congress. RIAA President Jay Berman said his organization is also providing employees with background material and information on "what they should say and to whom it should be sent." Several sources told Billboard that they have been asked to tell Congress members that, if DAT machines were allowed to enter the U.S. without copy-coding systems, their jobs would be at stake.
But the industry's anti-DAT campaign has suffered several significant setbacks, most notably the decision by House Speaker Jim Wright (D-Tex.) to remove the industry's DAT legislation from the upcoming House trade bill. (Wright has said that the decision was "strictly" procedural, and the bill could still be put before the House on its own.) However, industry insiders wonder whether the decision was influenced by a Washington Post editorial that blasted the proposed legislation, dubbing the microchip solution as "ludicrous." The Post continued: "In a large population of kids adept at electronic magic, it is difficult to believe that many of those chips would still be in the machine 30 minutes after it came out of the packing box. In its misguided solution to a grossly overstated threat, the Energy and Commerce Committee has achieved a rare symmetry--the marriage of bad technology to bad law."