ArtsWatch: Dot-Qualm?

ICANN to launch application process for new Net names to the right of the dot
June 27, 2011 -- 5:14 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 June 20 the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers approved plans to permit new generic top-level domains — a historic change that will open Internet addresses such as .com and .org to new domains such as .music. Applications to form registries for new gTLDs will be accepted from Jan. 12–April 12, 2012, and the application fee is a hefty $185,000. Foreign language alphabets and Chinese characters will also be supported. ICANN's rules for this have taken years to develop and include efforts to satisfy many stakeholder concerns, such as those expressed earlier this year by 15 leading music organizations including The Recording Academy. To the left of the dot, major brands are concerned about the potential burdens of registering their marks across the spectrum of new suffixes, as well as monitoring the new name spaces for cybersquatters or content pirates. To the right of the dot, observers have expressed concern that there will be a "Wild West"-type scramble for new Internet real estate, accompanied by long-term costs likely amounting to millions of dollars for those whose applications succeed. Outgoing ICANN Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush said, "We have provided a platform for the next generation of creativity and inspiration." Since conflicts are inevitable with such a platform, brands must stay alert and informed to look after their best interests.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved S. 978, the Commercial Felony Streaming Act, on June 16, a bill that follows a recommendation by Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel that Internet streaming should be treated as a felony similar to downloading. A joint statement by AFTRA, American Federation of Musicians, Directors Guild of America, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and SAG read, "The Commercial Felony Streaming Act, together with the PROTECT IP Act [S. 968] that was also passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee three weeks ago, is critical to the ability of law enforcement to actively and effectively combat the online theft of our members' work. Make no mistake: The illegal streaming of content for commercial or financial gain is a crime, and the Commercial Felony Streaming Act places the appropriate criminal label on the activity." Its passage out of committee was also praised by the Independent Film & Television Alliance, MPAA and the National Association of Theatre Owners. Both S. 968 and S. 978 are supported by The Recording Academy and are presently awaiting a vote by the full Senate.

On June 22 the Senate Judiciary Committee conducted a hearing on "Oversight Of Intellectual Property Law Enforcement Efforts," with testimony from Espinel and representatives of Customs and Border Protection, the Department of Justice, FBI, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The witnesses' statements provide quick overviews of the U.S. IP enforcement infrastructure, including impressive details not widely reported elsewhere. Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said, "You should all know that your work has the support of this committee. While there are many issues in which our members have spirited disagreements, the protection of intellectual property is not one of them. Intellectual property enforcement is a great example of a bipartisan area where this committee has come together to report meaningful legislation."

MPAA-affiliated organization Motion Picture Association Asia Pacific and PayPal's Brand Risk Management department announced on June 22 that dozens of merchant PayPal accounts were closed after a three-month investigation into DVD and Blu-ray disc counterfeiting. Most of the targeted merchants were based in China. MPA Asia Pacific President/Managing Director Mike Ellis said, "We...commend PayPal for taking decisive action against these illegal activities on its global payment platform. Through this operation, PayPal has once again shown itself to be a consistent and reliable partner in the fight against copyright theft."

During 2009–2010 German hackers DJ Stolen and CEE (identified as Deniz A and Christian M, respectively) used phishing emails purporting to have music file attachments that were really Trojan malware in order to steal private login information and media files from artists including Dr. Dre, Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, and Justin Timberlake. On June 16, following an extensive trans-Atlantic investigation, both men were convicted of copyright theft and computer intrusion and sentenced to 18 months in prison. CEE's sentence was suspended but DJ Stolen was also convicted for extortion and must serve his sentence. IFPI Anti-Piracy Director Jeremy Banks said, "Hacking into people's email accounts to obtain and then distribute private information or property is a very serious offence which takes considerable resources to investigate. This case shows the sheer scale and scope of measures taken to identify the offenders and bring them to justice."

On June 17 Nielsen released results of an analysis of smart phone users and their data consumption, finding an approximate 90 percent increase in the amount of data used compared to last year. Led by Android and iPhone users, the 37 percent of mobile phone users with smart phones are definitely getting used to consuming more data and taking advantage of lower prices per megabyte. Nielsen said, "The mobile data tsunami...is still growing at an astounding pace."

CBS Interactive Music Group launched its redesigned MP3.com on June 21, encouraging artists to upload their music and providing visitors with a wide variety of content, including a technology blog, videos, CBS radio tie-ins, and 1 million free tracks. CBSIMG President David Goodman said, "MP3.com has been a cornerstone of the online music movement since the early days of the Internet. The time is right to build on that history with this robust content offering."

 

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