ArtsWatch: Bipartisan Patent Reform

U.S. House of Representatives passes legislation to curtail lawsuits by patent trolls
December 09, 2013 -- 6:43 am PST
By Philip Merrill / GRAMMY.com

In recent news ...

Innovation Act Clears House, Heads To Senate
On Dec. 5 H.R. 3309, the Innovation Act, was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives proposing to restrict abusive patent litigation practices by imposing new disclosure requirements and judicial procedures. The bill was introduced by Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) on Oct. 23 and passed by a vote of 325–91. "The bipartisan legislation takes meaningful steps to address the abusive practices that have damaged our patent system and resulted in significant economic harm to our nation. … I look forward to working with the Senate to see that patent litigation reform legislation is signed into law," said Goodlatte. In addition to uniting both sides of the political spectrum, the long list of Innovation Act supporters brings together leading corporations, industry associations and consumer advocates, including Apple, BSA: The Software Alliance, Comcast-NBC Universal, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Facebook, Google, MPAA, Public Knowledge, Twentieth Century Fox, Twitter, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Viacom, and The Walt Disney Company. In addition to the relief patent-troll reform will provide to the emerging digital content distribution sector, improving the reputation of intellectual property rights litigation is likely to have beneficial side effects for copyright law's public image.

European Copyright Survey Seeks Answers From Artists
The European Commission launched a public consultation about digital copyright on Dec. 5, encouraging "authors, performers, publishers, producers, broadcasters, intermediaries, distributors," and other stakeholders to complete an 80-question survey by Feb. 5. Framed under the umbrella issue of enabling a streamlined single market for digital goods and services across the European Union, the survey tackles a variety of related hot issues such as digital resale, Internet links to infringing content, and levies on cloud storage of copyrighted content. European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Michel Barnier said, "My vision of copyright is of a modern and effective tool that supports creation and innovation, enables access to quality content, including across borders, encourages investment and strengthens cultural diversity. Our EU copyright policy must keep up with the times."

Global Cyber Monday Domain Name Seizures
On Dec. 2, the popular Cyber Monday Internet shopping day, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced their fourth round of domain name seizures from online merchants selling counterfeit merchandise. Working in combination with other agencies internationally resulted in a record-breaking 706 seizures this year, with ICE busting 297, Europol seizing 393, and Hong Kong Customs shutting down 16. ICE Acting Director John Sandweg said, "Counterfeiters take advantage of the holiday season and sell cheap fakes to unsuspecting consumers everywhere. Consumers need to protect themselves, their families, and their personal financial information from the criminal networks operating these bogus sites." This is the latest in the series of legal actions known as "Operation In Our Sites" that started in June 2010 and has confiscated a grand total of 2,550 domain names since then. The educational antipiracy banners that are put in place on the seized domains have been viewed more than 122 million times.

Blocking Online Infringement In Florida, France And Russia
MPAA and cyberlocker Hotfile settled the damages phase of their case before the Southern District of Florida's U.S. District Court on Dec. 3, with Hotfile agreeing to pay $80 million and implement digital fingerprinting technology to combat infringement should it choose to remain in business. On Nov. 28 a Paris Regional Court set precedent by requiring Internet service providers to block access to more than a dozen websites while requiring search engines to cease linking to these known infringers. Meanwhile Russia is considering amendments to its recently enacted antipiracy legislation. Rights holders and hosting ISPs would be provided a rapid, well-defined procedure that could lead to the shut down of infringing websites or the imposition of a fine up to $30,000. Content owners have long maintained that ISPs, search engines and websites were capable of battling infringement more aggressively. These three examples suggest tougher actions might soon become mandatory as a matter of routine.

The Recording Academy actively represents the music community on such issues as intellectual property rights, music piracy, archiving and preservation, and censorship concerns. In pursuing its commitment to addressing these and other issues, The Recording Academy undertakes a variety of national initiatives. ArtsWatch is a key part of an agenda aimed at raising public awareness of and support for the rights of artists. To become more involved, visit Advocacy Action @ GRAMMY.com and sign up for Advocacy Action E-lerts.

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