ArtsWatch: Copyright Act Goes Public

Academy members making a difference as agencies and Congress invite public comment on copyright
March 31, 2014 -- 7:41 am PDT
By Philip Merrill /

In recent news ...

Copyright Office Invites Public Comments On Music Licensing
As part of Congress' review of the Copyright Act, the Copyright Office has invited public comments for its Music Licensing Study by May 16. The request provides interested parties an opportunity to answer 24 questions such as, "How have developments in the music marketplace affected the income of songwriters, composers and recording artists?" The Recording Academy has already been front-and-center in this process. As part of a series of anticipated sessions, the Register of Copyrights Maria A. Pallante met with music creators from the New York Chapter in January and creators from the Chicago Chapter in February. New York Chapter Board member Maria Schneider testified before a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee on March 13, championing the need to make Internet notice-and-takedown procedures more practical for independent artists. The Department of Commerce held a multistakeholder event on notice-and-takedown on March 20, with session videos available and more meetings to come. The Copyright Office is also inviting additional public comments on orphan works by April 14. Consideration of how to update copyright law will likely continue for more than a year or two, and is arguably a once-in-a-generation chance for music creators to have their voices heard in this process.

New Copyright Office Fee Schedule To Take Effect May 1
For the first time since 2009 the Copyright Office's fees for services will change on May 1. Some will rise, some will drop and some will stay the same. Additionally, there will be a "new online registration option for single works by single authors that are not works for hire." While the cost of a standard online registration claim will go up from $35 to $55, that new option will cost $35, an effort to keep basic service as affordable as possible for independent authors. In an effort to encourage renewal registrations and addendum documentation, the new renewal fees will be lower. The revised fees are expected to generate additional annual revenues of $28 million and to do a better job of recovering administrative costs than the existing schedule.

Rep. Blackburn Pushes For AM/FM Performance Royalties
Early last week the House Commerce Committee's Communications and Technology Subcommittee held a markup regarding reauthorization of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), recipient of the GRAMMYs on the Hill Award in 2007, introduced and withdrew an amendment — a procedural technique lawmakers occasionally use to go on record when they want to make a point — to make retransmission payments contingent on AM/FM performance rights. "Broadcasters seem to turn out a press release an hour saying anyone who uses their members' content should pay fair market value," said Blackburn. "On the other hand, when it comes to music, the same broadcasters — many who own both TV and radio stations — sing a completely different tune. They defend a system where their AM/FM stations use musicians' work and make millions off of it and they never pay a cent. This is a basic issue of modernizing the law to get rid of a dated loophole." (video available) Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) concurred, saying, "It's not a fair model at all ... this is diminishing what these artists produce."

Second Top-Level Film Distributor Anticipated For China
Variety has been following promising developments in China's movie industry, breaking news on March 23 that foreign music distributor China National Culture & Art Corp. is expected to receive a movie distribution license from the Ministry of Culture. Film distribution in China has been monopolized by China Film Group, so this news raises hopes that a more dynamic marketplace is emerging. Additional details of CNCAC's corporate components were revealed at a March 27 event in Hong Kong.

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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