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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 July 27 the fourth round of exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's prohibition on hacking access controls took effect. (summary, Federal Register) Librarian of Congress James H. Billington issues exemptions every few years based on public input and recommendations from Register of Copyrights Marybeth Peters. These rules restrict which court cases can be filed under the DMCA for tampering with restrictions on access (but not restrictions on copying) and they do not directly address what constitutes copyright infringement.
The latest exemptions include:
On July 20 the Federal Communications Commission released a report, divided by party lines, concluding for the first time that U.S. broadband Internet is not being deployed in a reasonable and timely fashion. Democratic commissioners hailed the report's improved fact-finding and the adjustment of the minimum speed defined as broadband from 200 Kbps/sec to 4 Mbps/sec, while dissenting Republican commissioners expressed suspicion that the report's findings were being skewed, potentially as a basis to support increased government regulation. All five commissioners expressed support for the goal of universal Internet service and were dissatisfied that between 14 and 24 million Americans live in areas without broadband access at home. The Republicans encouraged a narrower focus on helping households without service accompanied by consideration of whether they might best be served by wireless Internet. In other words, rural users beyond the reach of U.S. commercial broadband landlines deserve special help — how they can best get that help is part of the larger debate whether government or private-sector action is most effective.
On July 26 British regulator Ofcom released research showing that average broadband speeds over landlines increased from 4.1 Mbps/sec to 5.2 Mbps/sec in the UK over the last year — however, the gap between advertised speeds and actual speeds also grew. DSL Internet connections over phone lines had the worst gap in general performance, but cable lines were hardest hit during periods of peak traffic congestion. Ofcom revised its voluntary code of practice for Internet service providers to include a commitment to better communicate actual speeds to consumers and allow customers to escape their service contracts without penalty if the gap between advertised and actual speeds is too high. Ofcom Chief Executive Ed Richards said, "We are delighted that all major ISPs have signed up..." Separately on July 12, UK Prime Minister David Cameron was delighted by the release of the UK Digital Champion's report "Manifesto For A Networked Nation" — part of the Race Online 2012 initiative to be the "first nation where everyone can use the Web."
Wired.com profiled Las Vegas-based copyright enforcement group Righthaven on July 22. CEO Steve Gibson claims to be filing new infringement lawsuits daily against websites reposting newspaper stories owned by his clients.
From July 19–23 ArtsJournal hosted an online conversation about creative rights and artists in conjunction with Fractured Atlas, the Future of Music Coalition, and the National Alliance for Media Arts + Culture. The top-caliber panel of bloggers included former two-time Recording Academy Chairman Bill Ivey, who said, "In the big picture no single entity in the arts has emerged to speak for the American people in addressing the overarching need to balance marketplace forces against the public's legitimate interest in a vibrant, open cultural scene."
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