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Fiorina calls for defense of digital rights

HP's chief executive declares open season on digital piracy while also announcing new entertainment products that HP hopes will help make its digital entertainment strategy a reality.

LAS VEGAS--Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Carly Fiorina declared open season on digital piracy Thursday at the Consumer Electronics Show while also announcing new entertainment products that HP hopes will help make its digital entertainment strategy a reality.

In a keynote speech, Fiorina made clear the company's stance on digital piracy.

"It's illegal and wrong, and there are things we as a computing company can do" to prevent it, Fiorina said.

The HP chief added that starting this year all HP digital entertainment products will use software that respects the copyrights of artists. The company will actively promote copyright protection and step up efforts with antipiracy and consumer groups, she said.

"Every entertainment process is becoming digital, mobile and virtual," Fiorina said.

HP's stance against digital piracy is important to artists who view digital media as a potential threat to their copyrights because of the ease with which content can be copied and distributed.

In a show of support for HP's stance, Fiorina was joined on stage by Interscope Geffen A&M Records Chairman Jim Iovine as well as artists Dr. Dre, U2 guitar player The Edge, Sheryl Crow, Alicia Keys, Toby Keith and other music executives.

HP also provided a glimpse of new products that would allow for easier use of digital media.

At the center of the company's digital entertainment plan is the HP Digital Entertainment System, which is made of a series of components including a hub, digital displays, projectors, music players and handhelds, and involves partnerships with content companies.

Earlier in the day, HP announced an agreement with Apple Computer to sell HP-branded versions of Apple's iPod, a hard drive-based digital audio player. HP will call its player the Digital Music Player. As part of the deal, HP will preinstall Apple's iTunes music service software onto its consumer PCs.

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Carly Fiorina, CEO, Hewlett-Packard

Both announcements are part of a larger effort by the computer giant to make inroads into the consumer electronics market, which is expected to generate a record $101 billion in revenue this year, a 5 percent increase over 2003, according to the Consumer Electronics Association.

Other computer makers, such as Dell and Gateway, have also been looking to the consumer electronics market for future growth.

What isn't clear is if looking to the consumer electronics market will reap the rewards that companies seek. Earlier this week, Gateway warned that it would post a wider-than-expected, fourth-quarter loss and lower-than-expected sales for the holiday season.

Gateway cited competitive pressures in its traditional PC sales for the warning and said that sales of its consumer electronics products were going well and would make up a significantly greater percentage of total sales for the fourth quarter.

Consumer electronics makers have argued that entering the market takes more than just access to products; it also takes knowledge of what consumers are looking for.

PC makers are saying that their understanding of digital media, such as digital audio and imaging, gives them an advantage--one that HP plans to exploit with its new products that begin shipping in the fall.

HP will ship a 30-inch LCD television, a 42-inch plasma set, new low-cost projectors, a Media Center Extender set-top box-like device for televisions and a digital entertainment hub for storing and accessing digital media.