ArtsWatch: Is Google Antipiracy Working Hard Or Hardly Working?

Search giant expands its massive antipiracy program, but is it helping?
September 16, 2013 -- 6:42 am PDT
By Philip Merrill / GRAMMY.com

In recent news ...

Is Google's Antipiracy Working Hard Or Hardly Working?
On Sept. 10 Google released "How Google Fights Piracy," featuring an overview of its programs for fighting piracy, which include better legal alternatives, following the money to choke off pirate sites' revenue and removing infringing results from search and autocomplete. Despite the massive scale and extensive scope of the search leader's efforts, TechHive's coverage exposed gaps where Google's results fall short of its stated intentions. Antipiracy company Muso explained in a Sept. 6 blog how its service sends high-priority takedown notices based on whether infringing sites appear in Google's top search results. More recently, Digital Music News reported on Muso's plans to release a browser plug-in that could inform their corporate servers of "billions" more infringing Web pages through crowdsourcing and automated detection.

Major Labels Sue SiriusXM Over Musicians' Pre-1972 States Rights
The RIAA announced on Sept. 11 that indie label ABKCO Music & Records, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group sued SiriusXM in California state court for not paying royalties on pre-1972 recordings. "Through a quirk of history, federal copyright law did not protect sound recordings until 1972," the RIAA said in a statement. "Recordings made before 1972 — staples of satellite radio — are protected by state laws. SiriusXM has interpreted that fact such that they only pay for the use of songs recorded after 1972, and not for using the songs that were recorded before 1972." This is the fifth litigation in a series of lawsuits initiated in the beginning of August by plaintiffs Flo & Eddie of the Turtles. Their first lawsuit was followed by SoundExchange filing suit against SiriusXM in Washington, D.C., federal court on Aug. 26.

Rulings In Internet Rebroadcasting Cases Send A Split Signal
On Sept. 5 broadcasters were handed a win in Washington, D.C., U.S. District Court, granting plaintiffs a preliminary injunction against Internet rebroadcaster FilmOn X prohibiting the service from remaining in business pending the lawsuit's conclusion. The following day Boston broadcaster WCVB-TV filed a notice of supplemental authority, adding the new ruling to their arguments against Aereo's similar service, in a case before Massachussetts' U.S. District Court. The Aereo saga has been a daring business attempt to discover whether the finest legal minds can short circuit old-fashioned copyright restrictions by relying on peculiar technology designed to exploit legal loopholes. Arguably, Aereo is still in business because that question was answered in the affirmative, leading to the follow-up question: How long can this short circuit last? Perhaps not long. The Washington, D.C., judge who shut them down rejected the arguments that have so far kept Aereo in business.

Open Internet Rules In U.S. Court And In Europe
Net neutrality and open Internet issues were front and center again as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard oral arguments on Sept. 9 in Verizon's challenge of the Federal Communications Commission's open Internet rulemaking authority. Later that day, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association said, "No matter how the case comes out, cable broadband customers should have confidence that they will continue to enjoy the same fast and open Internet experience that millions of Americans cherish every day." On Sept. 11 the European Commission adopted a plan for a single telecommunications market, including protections for open Internet principles. The Computer & Communications Industry Association praised the proposal but consumer advocates expressed doubts that the Net neutrality provisions were strong enough. The EC's draft language will now pass to European Parliament for approval.

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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