ArtsWatch: Rogue Websites Bill Advances In Senate Committee

Senate Judiciary Committee gives antipiracy legislation unanimous approval
November 22, 2010 -- 10:36 am PST
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.

As covered by NewsWatch, on Nov. 18 the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed the rogue websites bill S. 3804, the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, moving it to the Senate floor for a full vote. The bill would give the Department of Justice new tools to disrupt the normal course of business for websites that primarily rely on infringement to produce revenue, distinctively allowing authorities to prevent sites' domain names from automatically bringing visitors to the sites' Internet addresses. The bipartisan vote was widely welcomed as a victory by entertainment industry associations, including the MPAA and RIAA, while consumer advocates such as the Center for Democracy & Technology, Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Knowledge are concerned these new tools might be misused. The version passed by the committee was amended to address many tech-friendly concerns, including the now-removed provision allowing the Department of Justice to publish a blacklist of suspect sites. If the bill does not pass before newly elected legislators take office in January, it will likely be reintroduced next year. The bill's opponents hope it doesn't pass this year so further modifications can be discussed at length, but creative professionals victimized by online infringement have a sense of urgency. A new set of tools to protect intellectual property strikes many as the perfect holiday present.

A study released on Nov. 16 estimated the impact of the arts on the economy of Vermont equaling $443.5 million annually. The study was commissioned by Burlington, Va.-based real estate developer Main Street Landing. Copyright Alliance Executive Director Patrick Ross said, "The policy analyst who calculated the impact of the arts on Vermont's economy...told The Burlington Free Press that he was a 'little surprised' by how big the number is. We're not. For nearly four years we've emphasized repeatedly that industries across the creative spectrum drive the economy and job growth, and those industries are fueled significantly by copyright."

On Nov. 17 the Mayors' Institute on City Design announced the publication of Creative Placemaking, a resource featuring information on developing urban arts environments. The MICD initiative is a partnership between the American Architectural Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts and the United States Conference of Mayors. The report said, "Arts and culture at this historic juncture are proving their power as economic and social catalysts. Through smart collaborations with other sectors — government, private business, foundations — they are creating opportunities for rejuvenation and economic development, anchored in and tailored to diverse communities. The arts can be a fulcrum for the creative transformation of American cities."

The United States Trade Representative released the final text of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement on Nov. 15, commencing the process for nearly 40 participating nations to pursue approval by their respective governments. Consumer advocates Public Knowledge restated its concerns with several provisions and noted this final text is largely the same as the draft version released last month. Widespread adoption of the ACTA would improve international antipiracy reporting and coordination, and would hopefully result in the introduction of rigorous protections for intellectual property in many countries where enforcement and regulation are lax.

On Nov. 8–12 international negotiators on the World Intellectual Property Organization's Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights made progress in three key areas:

  • Protection of broadcast signals
    Proposed treaty language was solicited using the signals-based approach, avoiding the more controversial alternative of granting broadcasters new rights.
  • Protection of performers' audiovisual rights
    Proposed treaty language was solicited to clarify the "legal basis for the international use of audiovisual works, both in traditional media and in digital networks."
  • Limitations and exceptions
    Several proposed treaty drafts were reviewed that would enable the reading-impaired to legally access copyright-protected works in new ways. SCCR will submit recommendations to next year's WIPO General Assembly. Recommendations pertaining to "libraries, archives, educational, teaching, and research institutions, and persons with other disabilities" are scheduled to be submitted to the general assembly in 2012.

Amazon.com launched Amazon Studios on Nov. 16, an online movie project-development community providing prizes, a first-look deal with Warner Bros. Pictures, real payday potential, and the chance to rate, tinker with, and edit other submissions. Scripts and test movies for full-length projects are being solicited. Separately that same day, Amazon-owned IMDb.com exclusively debuted a world premiere of the Band Of Horses' video "Dilly."

 

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