ArtsWatch: Copyright Office Wants More Comments

Agency requests additional public submissions on music licensing issues
July 28, 2014 -- 6:43 am PDT
By Philip Merrill / GRAMMY.com

In recent news ...

Copyright Office Keeps Digging
On July 23 the Federal Register published the Copyright Office's second notice of inquiry for the agency's music licensing study. The notice solicits answers to 10 questions covering four topics, with a deadline of Aug. 22. The topics include the evolving roles played by performance rights organizations and the statutory license, possible changes to the Copyright Royalty Board's rate setting procedures, recommendations to review specific international music licensing models, and how to improve data listings for "musical works, sound recordings, songwriters, composers, and artists." The Copyright Office received 85 submissions to its first notice of inquiry on music licensing, including from The Recording Academy. Replies to the first notice of inquiry's comments are also welcome, provided they do more than "restate previously submitted material." The Copyright Office also requested additional comments on the rights of making available and communication to the public, with a deadline of Aug. 14, as well as comments on proposed new recordation procedures, with a deadline of Aug. 15. Additionally, on July 16 the Office responded to an effort by Aereo to report and submit royalties as a cable retransmitter of broadcast signals. The filing was provisionally accepted, while the court case continues, but the agency warned that it did not believe the cable license covers Internet retransmission and so the filing could be refused in the future. The impact of the Supreme Court's June 25 Aereo ruling is also one of the topics presented by the Copyright Office's request for additional comments on the rights of making available and communication to the public.

Two New Hearings Continue House's Review Of Copyright Law
The House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet continued its ongoing review of copyright law with hearings on July 15 and 24. Titled "Moral Rights, Termination Rights, Resale Royalty, And Copyright Term," the July 15 hearing addressed these important diverse subjects altogether. Songwriters Guild of America President Rick Carnes delivered noteworthy testimony and expressed SGA's accord with the growing consensus that "all music creators deserve fair market value for [the] use of their works on all platforms." The July 24 hearing focused on copyright remedies, with the Department of Justice weighing in on the enforcement side, while consumer advocates Public Knowledge defended the consumer side, Computer & Communications Industry Association advocated for technology companies, and two additional attorneys represented big and small content owners, respectively. Reviewing questions surrounding copyright's statutory deterrence damages, there was some support for supplementary guidelines to distinguish commercial and consumer piracy, but there was also support for the way potential $150,000 per infringed work penalties encourage negotiated settlements. There was general support for more efficient registration and introducing a copyright small claims court to help individual and independent content owners better assert their rights, but there was little consensus on details. Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) directed the DOJ Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General David Bitkower's attention to the fact that the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator position has been vacant for nearly a year. He responded that his agency's work with the Acting IPEC has been effective so far. Regarding recommendations that streaming infringing content be made a felony on a par with downloading infringing content, Bitkower suggested the felony penalty could be narrowly tailored to be appropriate, such as not criminalizing new conduct that is not currently criminal. Similar to the ongoing review by the Copyright Office, the House Judiciary Subcommittee's painstaking consideration of how copyright should be modernized is timely and invaluable.

Indie Labels Pledge Fair Digital Deals
Independent record labels worldwide launched the "Fair Digital Deals Declaration" on July 15 under the aegis of the Worldwide Independent Network. Accompanied by a "Global Independent Manifesto," the declaration upholds transparent processes between artists and labels for digital revenue as well as support for artists' antipiracy efforts. By July 16 WIN announced it had signed declarations from more than 750 labels around the world. It is noteworthy that this fairness banner was raised while the U.S. creative community has been uniting behind the concept of "fair market value" in the course of efforts to modernize copyright.

British ISPs And Content Owners Unite On Antipiracy
On July 19 British leaders from government, telecommunications and the creative industries announced the launch of Creative Content UK, a two-prong antipiracy partnership. One prong will be a multiplatform public awareness campaign supported by nearly $6 million in government funding, to begin in spring 2015. The other prong will alert Internet service provider subscribers when it is believed they have been infringing copyright and will direct them to legal content sources online. This part of the effort will take longer to fully develop, and ISPs and content owners will jointly manage and fund the alert system. BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor said, "This landmark initiative marks the first time that entertainment companies, broadband providers and the government have come together in a major campaign to engage consumers through their passion for music, film, TV, and other content, and to support them in enjoying it safely and legally online. It should mark a real step forward for digital entertainment in the UK."

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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