ArtsWatch: Copyright Family Values

Creative community tells House subcommittee that copyright means livelihoods
July 29, 2013 -- 6:46 am PDT
By Philip Merrill / GRAMMY.com

In recent news ...

House Copyright Hearing Focuses On Creators
On July 25 the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet held a hearing on "Innovation In America: The Role Of Copyrights." The hearing is part of a series that began in March with the Register of Copyrights calling for a comprehensive review to update copyright law, followed by a hearing in May examining how The Copyright Principles Project had assembled a team with widely differing views yet managed to arrive at productive results. Last week's hearing on copyright is to be followed by a companion hearing focused on the high-tech sector. Copyright Alliance Executive Director Sandra Aistars testified about being raised in a family supported by her father's creative livelihood. "Care must be taken to ensure the balanced intellectual property protections we currently enjoy not be sacrificed in the hope that weakening protections will spur technological innovation," said Aistars. American Society of Media Photographers Executive Director Eugene Mopsik described how he worked mornings and nights in addition to his full-time job to create portraits of Philadelphia that held lasting value and were extensively licensed. "I needed to provide for my family and my future and copyright gave me the path," he said. Other witnesses included Yep Roc Records co-owner Tor Hansen, who is on the Board of Directors of the American Association of Independent Music, John Lapham, the general counsel of Getty Images, and Stereo D President and founder William Sherak. As a successful innovator in converting feature films to 3-D, Sherak evangelized copyright's fundamental importance to thousands of livelihoods that provide technical services to the movie industry. In a brief behind-the-scenes tour, he showed the panel a dramatic 3-D video of how Stereo D rendered Star Trek: Into Darkness into three dimensions. Also, in his introductory remarks Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) announced his intention to introduce a bill before the August recess recognizing a performance right for terrestrial radio broadcasts.

Dish Network's Ad-skipping Tech Survives Appeal
On July 24 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals handed Dish Network's commercial-skipping technology a win, denying Fox's appeal of a lower court's refusal to issue a preliminary injunction against the service. Similar to the recent appeals court decision favoring Aereo, this enables a service that seems as though it is facilitating infringement to stay in business while the underlying litigation moves ahead in a process likely to take years. Both services were designed around the noteworthy 2008 Cablevision ruling that allowed high-tech businesses to enable consumers to make some fair-use private copies at home. The Ninth Circuit's opinion stated, "Operating a system used to make copies at the user's command does not mean that the system operator, rather than the user, caused copies to be made. Here, Dish's program creates the copy only in response to the user's command." Arguably, a trial is the appropriate forum to resolve the question of whether a specific service overstepped and infringed, which means the only service innovators who dare try this must have millions of dollars in a litigation war chest. The need for better rules of the road regarding innovative copying technologies was just one of many reasons the Register of Copyrights asserted in March 2013 that it is time for Congress to review updating copyright law.

Britain's Prime Minister Plans Power Play To Censor Internet Porn
On July 22 UK Prime Minister David Cameron gave a landmark speech introducing strong measures to censor pornography online. Regarding criminal child pornography, he gave search engines an October deadline to devise a technical alternative to remaining passive until receiving notification of criminal content. Regarding legal pornography, Cameron announced content filters to restrict access by minors, and he hailed progress on the educational front thanks to a new and "unprecedented" online safety curriculum. In the speech, which was hosted by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Cameron delegated roles in the plan to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, Internet Watch Foundation, Ofcom, and the UK Council for Child Internet Safety. The scope of Cameron's demands seems unprecedented and his tone was insistent that government will regulate Internet service providers, including search engines and mobile operators, to require compliance and support of his anti-porn policy approach.

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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