ArtsWatch: Maria Schneider's Takedown Testimony

Recording Academy New York Chapter Board member testifies at House hearing
March 17, 2014 -- 6:45 am PDT
By Philip Merrill / GRAMMY.com

In recent news ...

House Copyright Hears Academy Board Member's Struggles Against Infringement
The millions of infringement takedown notices sent to Internet service providers were the topic of a March 13 hearing by the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, part of its ongoing review of the Copyright Act. GRAMMY-winning jazz and classical artist and New York Chapter Board member Maria Schneider spoke on behalf of The Recording Academy and artists everywhere who struggle to protect their work in today's piracy-rich digital environment. "Taking my music down from these sites is a frustrating and depressing process. ... As fast as I take my music down, it reappears again on the same site," Schneider said. During her testimony, Schneider made three recommendations: creators should have the ability to block uploads of their content before infringement occurs; host sites should require users to go through a more robust process before uploading content; and the notice and takedown process should become a "notice and stay down" process. "[Creators] are hemorrhaging red ink on our intellectual property. There has to be something that brings these two sides together and makes it sustainable. I want it to benefit me, not just the big players," she said. In response to Google Senior Copyright Policy Counsel Katherine Oyama asserting that some creators earn six figures from monetizing online content, Schneider responded, "That's like going into a poor neighborhood and finding one person who won the lottery." University of Idaho College of Law Professor Annemarie Bridy defended the current process and Oyama called attention to Google's efforts, but the status quo does not do enough for independent artists battling against the overwhelming math of mass Internet infringement. Other panelists offered several practical suggestions. Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) introduced into evidence an op-ed piece she co-wrote with Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) in the March 12 issue of The Hill dealing with other creators in Maria Schneider's position. The lawmakers wrote, "It defies common sense that a search engine can receive notice after notice when the same work reappears and not have to do anything more than continue to respond to these notices. Doing the bare minimum is not how the law was intended to function."

Crowdfunding's Big Week!
On March 11 at South by Southwest GRAMMY winner Neil Young launched a Kickstarter campaign for his high-resolution digital ecosystem PonoMusic. Similar to the campaign to fund the movie Veronica Mars one year ago, Pono surged past $1 million — exceeding the project's goal — and surpassed $3 million at press time, proving that crowdfunding can deliver on its promise as an alternative source of significant investment. Meanwhile, the Kickstarter project Veronica Mars debuted in 270 movie theaters and online on March 14, the first "day and date" movie release with major studio backing. Similarly, in her congressional testimony, Maria Schneider showed how ArtistShare's crowdfunding platform has effectively supported recording excellence. Schneider's 2004 album Concert In The Garden was ArtistShare's first release and won a GRAMMY for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album.

Aereo Service Shut Down In Denver And Salt Lake City — For Now?
The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2–1 against unlicensed Internet TV service Aereo on March 7, upholding a lower court's grant of a preliminary injunction pending trial. The service shut down on March 8 in Denver and Salt Lake City and is barred, for now, from operating in Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming. This outcome was essentially the reverse of the 2013 2–1 decision in Aereo's favor by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Broadcasters appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court with oral arguments scheduled to begin April 22. Aereo expressed confidence that its service model would be vindicated by the higher court, however the top court could rule more narrowly on the issues pertinent to the lower court's denial of a preliminary injunction pending trial. As litigation drags on, Aereo debuted its service in Austin, Texas, on March 3, in time for SXSW.

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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