Gateway has launched a new marketing campaign called "RipBurnRespect" - a similar slogan to Apple's "Rip, Mix, Burn" - and is promoting the "fair-use" digital music.
Gateway launched its campaign in the US Thursday. Gateway, which must significantly increase traffic in its stores if it is to return to profitability, is slamming the music industry's stance to digital music as anti-consumer.
Gateway aims to support consumers' fair-use rights but is against peer-to-peer (P-to-P) services, according to Brad Williams, the company's director of corporate communications.
However, CBS last week refused to run a 30 second RipBurnRespect TV ad because it didn't agree with the expressed views, according to Williams.
"From our point of view it's ironic that a large media company like CBS didn't take the time to fully understand our message," Williams said.
CBS is owned by media and entertainment giant Viacom, which also owns or has stakes in Paramount Pictures, MTV Networks, Blockbuster and publisher Simon & Schuster.
Viacom also supports a bill introduced by South Carolina Democrat Fritz Hollings last year that aims to incorporate antipiracy protections in all consumer electronic devices. Gateway is firmly against the Hollings bill.
Williams said that CBS refused to run another Gateway ad last year. This featured company president Theodore Waitt saying that the company supports consumers fair-use rights when it comes to digital music.
These moves illustrate the tension surrounding the digital-music debate, which has divided many media, technology and consumer rights' advocates. While the record and movie industries seek to protect their intellectual property from piracy, specifically over illegitimate P-to-P networks, some think they are also preventing consumers from enjoying legitimate digital music rights.
"The record industry and the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) have done a pretty good job at making it ambiguous in consumers' minds as to what is okay, and have confused legitimate and illegitimate uses of digital music," Williams said.
However, the RIAA claims that it has been clear in its message on what is legal and illegal use of digital music. Furthermore, RIAA President Cary Sherman said Friday: "Gateway's views are welcome acknowledgements of the rights and needs of artists and record labels."
Gateway believes it has "taken the lead as far as educating the public", according to Williams. Its new RipBurnRespect site offers information on fair use rights and artists' rights, as well as free music downloads. The company is also offering new purchasers a 30-day trial subscription to an online music service plus 100 MP3 downloads from the (Mac-supporting) Emusic service.