ArtsWatch: Cybersecurity Act Ready For Senate Vote

Revised bill proposes public-private coordination to protect U.S. computer networks
March 29, 2010 -- 12:03 am PDT
By Philip Merrill / GRAMMY.com

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.

On March 24 the Senate Commerce Committee approved S. 773 — the Cybersecurity Act — featuring revisions by Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and co-sponsor Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) released on March 17 that reflected extensive consultations with industry stakeholders since the bill was first introduced in April 2009. (link) Rockefeller said, "Our future is literally being stolen from us with the theft of intellectual property and proprietary information from U.S. companies and innovators. The status quo is not sustainable. We need a new model for the 21st century." (link) Sticking points that have been changed include presidential authority in the event of a cyber-emergency, however provisions for certifying security professionals continue to face industry resistance. (link) The public-private collaboration proposed by the bill is unprecedented and reflects a new outlook to meet high-tech challenges that will require fresh investigation and contingency planning on an ongoing basis. Proposals for improved public education could benefit content owners since consumers' current practices expose them to malware through P2P file-sharing and unsecured local wireless networks.

During an address at the Export-Import Bank's annual conference on March 11, President Obama expressed his administration's commitment to fight content theft and counterfeiting abroad. (link) He said, "We're going to aggressively protect our intellectual property. Our single greatest asset is the innovation and the ingenuity and creativity of the American people.... But it's only a competitive advantage if our companies know that someone else can't just steal that idea and duplicate it..."

In an ongoing dispute between Pink Floyd and EMI, London's High Court Chancellor Sir Andrew Morritt rejected the label's argument that the term "record" used in a contract predating digital distribution only pertained to physical distribution. (link) Earlier this month, he ruled the band's stipulation that tracks should not be sold unbundled from their respective albums was intended to "preserve the artistic integrity of the albums" and so continues to apply in contemporary digital environments such as the iTunes Store. Although a victory for Pink Floyd, it seems the judge's ruling did not take the additional step of ordering EMI to stop selling individual digital tracks.

March 5 was the deadline for summary judgment motions in New York's U.S. District Court where Viacom's 2007 copyright infringement lawsuit against YouTube is being heard. The judge decided to release redacted versions of these filings to the public, providing a window into the allegations and counter-allegations through e-mails from both companies. (link) Viacom demonstrates that some YouTube executives were aware of infringing videos or posted some themselves. YouTube demonstrates that Viacom posted many videos of its own content through a promotional team that cultivated a public persona as ordinary uploaders. The outcome is expected to depend on a determination whether YouTube made sufficient efforts to take down infringing videos in order to qualify for protection under copyright law's ISP safe-harbor exemption.

In Norway, recording industry organization legal action aimed at compelling an ISP to block user access to the Pirate Bay failed twice — the organizations announced their decision to stop trying on March 12 and complained that Norway's copyright laws are not tough enough. (link) In Sweden, the Pirate Bay's appeal of a courtroom loss with massive fines is scheduled to begin Sept. 28 but unresolved conflict-of-interest allegations against judges could cause further delay. (link) Web site co-founder Peter Sunde displayed his inimitable insouciance at an SXSW event via videoconference and scoffed at the idea of record label plaintiffs ever receiving payment of the court-levied fines. (link)

On March 16 Arbor Networks released internetwork Internet traffic measurements compiled during summer 2009 indicating that data generated by Google at times accounted for 10 percent of this type of traffic on the Internet, much of it generated by YouTube. (link) The company said, "If Google were an ISP, it would be the fastest-growing and third-largest global carrier."

The Nielsen Company revealed data from its latest "Three Screen Report" on March 22 demonstrating several trends, comparing the last quarter of 2008 to the last quarter of 2009. (link) Users of mobile video grew 57 percent from an estimated 11.2 million consumers to 17.6 million consumers. Online video consumers grew 16 percent, but an intriguing fact about this is 44 percent of consumption occurs in the workplace. The already-established pattern of going online while watching television continued to grow — 60 percent of TV viewers reported multitasking on the Internet during the previous month.

 

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