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SIA: cut copyright levies, fight piracy

Posted: 15 May 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Dylan McGrath? Semiconductor Industry Association? SIA?

Copyright levies, duties imposed on goods capable of reproducing copyrighted materials, add substantial cost to electronic products and, in effect, offset the economic benefits of Moore's Law, according to leaders of the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), who called for governments to adopt alternative measures to protecting copyright holders.

In a press briefing last week, SIA Chairman Brian Halla, board member John Daane and President George Scalise said governments should focus on preventing piracy rather than levying the copyright tariffs, which they labeled as ineffective.

The SIA points to a 2006 study by a European organization called the Copyright Levies Reform Alliance, which found that nine of the largest EU countries collected a total of $686.5million in 2001, a number that is expected to more than triple to $2.29 billion in 2007.

Both the SIA and the international organization it helped create a decade ago, the World Semiconductor Council, oppose copyright levies on electronic media, but say they strongly advocate intellectual property rights. On one hand, the both say copyright levies are not effective, but are sensitive to the issue of piracy, particularly since piracy of electronics and components is becoming a larger issue.

"We'd rather see barrier eliminated on a stronger and worldwide basis," Scalise said. "We've got to get people around the world to focus on piracy." The men outlined some less formal measures, emphasizing industry self-policing and swift action over formal legal proceedings, to combat and reduce piracy.

In one example, Scalise suggested that governments request that silicon foundries make "best efforts" to determine if a chip design that has been brought to them for fabrication has been pirated. Scalise emphasized that such an arrangement should be informal, not placing legal requirements or responsibility on the foundries.

Scalise acknowledged that piracy of semiconductor design is not very common. Meanwhile, EDA, because its product is typically contained on computer disks, has been hit particularly hard by piracy. He was unable to quantify the degree to which EDA has been impacted, but said the ease of copying software on computer disks has resulted in EDA being impacted almost to the degree of "the music industry, where you can see all of these knockoffs are out there on the street."

- Dylan McGrath
EE Times

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