ArtsWatch: Comments Close As Justice Reviews PROs

Music's major stakeholders respond to federal call for comments
August 11, 2014 -- 6:59 am PDT
By Philip Merrill /

In recent news ...

Justice Department Review Of ASCAP-BMI Consent Decrees Proceeds
Aug. 6 marked the close of the comments period regarding the Department of Justice's review of the consent decrees regulating performance rights organizations ASCAP and BMI. The submissions from ASCAP and BMI have already been reported or made public, as have comments by the National Association of Broadcasters and The Trichordist's David Lowery. The Recording Academy filed as well, with details to be made available later this week. Overall, The Academy's comments stress the need for modernization of the PROs royalty rate process in order for a fair market to thrive for music in the United States. To do this the DOJ will have to modernize its own consent decrees and their outdated restrictions.

Broad DMCA Exemption To Unlock Mobile Phones Is Restored
President Barack Obama signed S. 517, the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act into law on Aug. 1, reversing a 2012 determination by the Librarian of Congress that made it a violation of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act to hack new wireless phones. This issue has been part of the Librarian's triennial review of exemptions to the DMCA's prohibition against circumventing software access controls. The list of 2012 exemptions restricted unlocking to older handsets because "the marketplace has evolved such that there is now a wide array of unlocked phone options available to consumers." A popular backlash pressured politicians to step in, including a We the People petition on the White House website that received more than 114,000 signatures. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), author of S. 517, joined with White House economist Jeff Zients to write, "What we saw in the end was a bipartisan commitment to solve a problem that affects millions of Americans. [In July] the Senate and the House both unanimously passed the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act — the first time a We the People petition has led to a legislative fix." The new law also directs the Librarian to consider whether the exemption should apply to other mobile devices, especially tablets. The language of this law has a limited life span as a new round of DMCA exemptions is due next year. Passage of the law follows a voluntary agreement earlier this year between wireless carriers and the Federal Communications Commission to allow consumers to unlock their phones. S. 517 formalizes that agreement into law.

Lionsgate Launches Hurry-Up Offense Against Pirated Expendables 3
With Expendables 3 scheduled to be released on Aug. 15, production company Lionsgate took preemptive action when it realized on July 24 that a pirated copy was being shared online. First the studio demanded torrent-sharing sites remove the movie, then filed suit against nonresponsive sites on July 31 in U.S. District Court. Expendables 3 was shared more than 2 million times during that week, nearly a quarter million times in the United States alone. Antipiracy firm MarkMonitor issued more than 2,700 takedown notices during the week, most of which were successful. On Aug. 4 the District Court Judge granted Lionsgate a temporary restraining order against the defendant websites and facilitated "follow-the-money" antipiracy actions by enabling the plaintiff to go after the sites' banks, payment processors, ad networks, and domain registrars.

Multitasking British Teens More Tech-Savvy Than Adults
On Aug. 7 British regulator Ofcom released its latest Communications Market Report revealing a wealth of demographic data with a focus on how young people embrace new digital technologies. Surveying approximately 2,800 people, Ofcom found those between the ages 14–15 proved the most tech-savvy, while a 6–7 year-old group was comparable with consumers 45 years old. Reuters was impressed that people now spend more time communicating and consuming media than they do sleeping, but the average of eight hours and 41 minutes spent on media activities translates to 11 hours and seven minutes of engagement due to multitasking. Although these numbers are greatly influenced by smartphones and reveal an ongoing transformation, traditional media such as TV, CDs/DVDs and books still retain a large but decreasing penetration in the marketplace.

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 @ and sign up for Advocacy Action E-lerts.

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