ArtsWatch: Copyright Alert Progress Report

Voluntary awareness campaign ramps up to reach millions more users
June 02, 2014 -- 7:46 am PDT
By Philip Merrill / GRAMMY.com

In recent news ...

Copyright Alert System "Ready For Full Operation"
On May 28 the Center for Copyright Information released "The Copyright Alert System — Phase One And Beyond," a report offering valuable detail about the program's development and future plans. "We are only now ready for full operation," the report stated. Since CAS launched in February 2013, more than 1 million educational alerts have been privately communicated to users by their Internet service providers, based on infringement notifications supplied by MarkMonitor. The program's reach is expected to double in the year ahead and precautions have been taken to ensure that CAS alerts are easy to deal with, sending out a positive message about available legitimate content and aiming to promote network effects through word of mouth and deterrence. The first year's data confirms these alerts can "move the needle" away from infringement and reflect well on this historic voluntary collaboration between content owners and ISPs. The MPAA and RIAA commended CCI, its partners and these encouraging preliminary results.

Bipartisan Push To Grant Royalties To Pre-1972 Recording Artists
New House of Representatives legislation and the launch of an awareness campaign coincided on May 29 to correct the injustice that deprives performers on pre-1972 recordings of digital royalties. As The Recording Academy's Chief Advocacy & Industry Relations Officer Daryl P. Friedman outlined in his latest blog, GRAMMY-winning artists such as Dionne Warwick are among those who are currently not receiving royalties on their early classics from services such as iHeartRadio, Pandora and SiriusXM. Democrats, Republicans and recording artists came together at a May 29 event to introduce new legislation that would provide a quick fix: H.R. 4772, the Respect Act. ("R-E-S-P-E-C-T" is an acronym for "Respecting Senior Performers as Essential Cultural Treasures.") Co-sponsored by Reps. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and George Holding (R-N.C.), among others, the bill would ensure immediate equal compensation for artists, even while the larger issues of federal copyright and pre-1972 recordings are hammered out. SoundExchange launched its Project72 initiative and website in conjunction with this bipartisan push. "With such a discrete problem as the one facing our legacy artists, and a clear path forward, Congress has a duty to act," said Holding. "In the end, we believe this fix will benefit artists, consumers, and companies operating in this ecosystem."

Supreme Court's New Precedent On Copyright's Statute Of Limitations
On May 19 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Paula Petrella, the heir to a 1963 script licensed in the course of developing MGM's 1980 film Raging Bull, could sue for recent profits, even though she waited until the film became profitable to file suit. Previous precedent had handled the three-year statute of limitations on copyright claims differently, shutting down lawsuits by plaintiffs who delayed filing until long after a derivative work's release. The new ruling rejects that "sue soon, or forever hold your peace" interpretation, holding that timeliness and fairness considerations might limit remedies and damage awards but do not "justify threshold dismissal." The decision is expected to increase the diligent efforts required of movie studios and other licensees; for example, when copyright terms of minor parties in a deal are up for renewal. The new precedent could also give rise to new lawsuits from plaintiffs who believed the statute of limitations precluded them from suing.

Publishers Leading Lyrics Sites To License, File Two New Lawsuits
The National Music Publishers' Association announced two new lawsuits on May 21 and provided a progress report on the antipiracy campaign it launched last November against 50 unlicensed lyrics sites. NMPA President/CEO David Israelite said, "Litigation is a last step. Our goal remains to ensure that lyric sites and songwriters become partners through licensing and many sites, including RapGenius, SongLyrics.com and LyricsMania.com, have done just that." The two new sites sued are LyricsTime.com and SeekLyrics.com, which were among the initial 50 sites. These had been identified for the NMPA by University of Georgia lecturer and Camper Van Beethoven/Cracker guitarist David Lowery. As the campaign continues, 11 of 50 sites have agreed to licensing; 11 have removed infringing content; and most of the remainder are in discussions. The NMPA also announced that Lowery has generated an updated targeting list of top unlicensed lyric sites.

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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