Japanese TV industry, groups mull DVD law

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TOKYO -- Television companies and copyright organizations are considering their stance on a proposal from Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications that would relax regulations regarding the recording of digital TV programs.

At present, a program recorded onto the hard drive of a DVD recorder can be transferred to a disc only once, as the data on the hard drive is then deleted.

The ministry's proposal, to be presented to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday, would tweak the technology in DVD recorders, allowing a program to be recorded as many as nine times. Trying to record it for a 10th time would automatically wipe the program from the hard drive.

According to the ministry, this would enable the average user to then transfer it to other portable devices such as iPods or mobile phones.

"Rights groups are presently considering this issue and will announce their decision next week," a spokesman for one such group said. "What we are really calling for is fair compensation when it comes to the issue of copying. In Japan at present, the owners of the images receive no compensation when they are copied and then transferred to other devices."

If all parties accept the proposal, or a compromise agreement is reached, manufacturers of DVD recorders are expected to be able quickly to produce new machines capable of multiple recordings.
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