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Gateway Advertising Campaign Inviting Legal Downloads

Internet: Computer maker's stance against anti-piracy legislation draws fire from the music industry.

April 13, 2002|SETH HETTENA | ASSOCIATED PRESS

The recording industry is having a cow over an ad campaign that features a Holstein singing along to a hip-hop cover of a Gordon Lightfoot tune.

The cow singing "Sundown" is part of Gateway Inc.'s new campaign taking a stand in the burgeoning battle over digital music. "Gateway supports your right to enjoy digital music legally," the ad concludes.

On its Web site, the company invites visitors to download songs and voices its opposition to anti-piracy legislation introduced last month in the Senate.

But the whimsical ad is no laughing matter for the Recording Industry Assn. of America, which is trying to stamp out music piracy.

RIAA's president, Hilary Rosen, accused Poway, Calif.-based Gateway of engaging in "misleading scare tactics" and suggested the company was acting in its own interests, not those of consumers.

"If only they would devote a little bit of the millions of dollars they're spending on this ad campaign to help stop illegal downloading....But that wouldn't help them sell more CD burners, would it?" Rosen said.

The back-and-forth between the nation's No. 4 computer maker and the recording industry trade group illustrates the battle shaping up in the Senate over digital piracy.

A bill introduced last month by Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.) would require computers and other digital electronic devices to contain a lock of sorts that restricts the copying of music or movies.

Proponents led by the entertainment industry say the protections are needed to stop computer users from making unlimited copies of songs and movies.

But opponents, including Gateway, fear the measure would outlaw all digital copying, including compiling favorite tunes or a slide show on a compact disc.

In response to Rosen's statement, Gateway spokeswoman Ashley Wood said the company was trying to find "new ways to distribute music and embrace legal digital technology rather than stifling it with regulation."

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