There is a hearing today before the Senate Judiciary Committee on a just introduced bill, S. 2644, called the PERFORM ACT, short for the Platform Equality and Remedies for Rights Holders in Music Act of 2006. Here is a link to the witnesses. There is no text of the bill in the Congressional Record, but hopefully copies will be available through the Committee. The Hollywood Reporter has a story about the bill and hearing in today's issue, at this link.
Without seeing the bill, I can't figure out how it deals with the issue, but the issue itself is easy enough to describe: satellite radio companies like Sirius and XM have marketed devices (like the S-50) that permit consumers to record, store, and archive digital radio programming. In archiving the programming, there are file dividers that permit consumers to separate out parts of the programming, like individual songs. These songs may then be retained and accessed, as on an iPod. Sirius reached a deal on its product, but XM has not. The legislation appears to be an effort to encourage XM to see the error in its ways.
Warner Music Group's charismatic, articulate, and visionary chairman/CEO is quoted in written testimony for today's hearing as using the famous walking, swimming, and quacking duck metaphor for what he regards as a download service. That may be a stretch, but the product's file separation ability is a very active step in encouraging consumers to make copies that would interfere with true downloads through iTunes. One could of course draft legislation limited to music and still permit other uses, but we will have to wait to see the actual bill to make any judgments about the scope of the legislation.