ArtsWatch: Copyright Law Brain Trust

Copyright Alliance forms high-powered legal advisory board
August 15, 2011 -- 7:22 am PDT
By Philip Merrill /

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.

On Aug. 9 the Copyright Alliance announced that 14 top law firms have come together to establish a legal advisory board for the organization. Loeb & Loeb attorney Barry Slotnick said, "We are looking forward to interacting directly with the Copyright Alliance to develop and share information and analysis of the critical legal issues facing copyright owners today. We are also especially excited about the opportunity to develop educational programs for the policymaking community and for future attorneys." This unprecedented cooperation is bound to introduce a meaningful and innovative new presence to the U.S. copyright law landscape. Alliance member MPAA blogged, "We welcome these experts' willingness to contribute their knowledge to our endeavors to strengthen copyright protection for the millions of Americans in the creative community." The alliance welcomes inquiries from additional firms interested in participating.

A seized website's pre-trial petition that its and domain names should be returned, pending trial, was denied in the Southern District of New York's U.S. District Court on Aug. 4. The judge found that the owner of the sites, Puerto 80, failed to support its claims of substantial hardship, in part because its content, which includes links to videos of sporting events and user discussion forums, is now hosted at several similar international domains. These are readily accessible to U.S. Internet users but lie outside the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and thus cannot be seized. Consumer advocates the Electronic Frontier Foundation said, "This ruling is profoundly disappointing, to say the least." From the foundation's point of view, seizing Web addresses is both heavy-handed and ineffective. However, from the viewpoint of copyright owners victimized by Internet piracy, such seizures provide a promising new tool likely to convey the message to consumers that Internet infringement cannot be treated as business as usual.

Also in the Southern District of New York's U.S. District Court, litigants Cablevision and Viacom settled their lawsuit over Cablevision's use of Viacom programs in its iPad streaming app. On Aug. 10 a joint statement from the companies read, "Viacom and Cablevision have agreed to resolve their pending litigation, and the Viacom programming will continue to appear on Cablevision's Optimum apps for iPad and other IP devices." Viacom had sued Cablevision in June shortly after reaching an agreement to put its similar litigation with Time Warner Cable on "standstill."

On Aug. 5 the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center task force launched its new website, "Embedded" participants include 16 U.S. agencies led by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as Interpol, the Mexican Revenue Service, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. In a sense, this is where NCIS (the agency) protects "NCIS" (the television program). Last March Politico published an in-depth look at the task force's role in the "Operation In Our Sites" seizures of domain names used by infringing websites.

Efforts are underway to mitigate the damage experienced by UK independent labels following the London riots on Aug. 8 that caused their CD stocks held at the Enfield Sony DADC warehouse to be consumed by fire. On Aug. 11 Britain's Association of Independent Music (website, Twitter) and distribution group PIAS (website, Twitter) announced the establishment of a fund to be fairly distributed through loans to help indies survive the business consequences of this significant loss. AIM Chairman and CEO Alison Wenham said, "The independents will survive this disaster, as they have survived other business challenges.... We wish to thank everyone in the community for their generous and unfettered support." Three male suspects have been arrested and charged with violent disorder and arson. Sony estimates its total stock loss at more than 1.5 million optical discs.

Aug. 11 was the first day that instances of consumer copyright infringement in New Zealand started to count toward the country's new three-strikes law penalizing repeat offenders. Separately, a Music Matters online awareness campaign launched in Australia and New Zealand on Aug. 10, highlighting the cultural contributions of local artists.

Late last month in India, two separate courts ruled against the Indian Performing Right Society Limited's entitlement to collect radio broadcast royalties for musical compositions threatening the continuation of performance royalties in the country. On Aug. 5 multiple GRAMMY winner and International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers President Robin Gibb said, "On behalf of CISAC, I strenuously urge the Indian government to take immediate remedial measures to correct the wrong that will result from the outcome of these judgments."

On Aug. 4 the Consumer Electronics Association released a study finding that 39 percent of consumers who are moderately interested in audio are willing to spend more to get more when it comes to better quality audio equipment. CEA Senior Research Analyst Ben Arnold said, "Manufacturers and retailers have the unique ability to educate consumers on what constitutes high-quality audio.... Hearing the difference among superior audio products can effectively sway consumers to consider and purchase high-quality audio technology."


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