ArtsWatch: Jimmy Jam In The House

Congressional hearing on music licensing hears "the music creator's viewpoint"
December 03, 2012 -- 7:44 am PST
By Philip Merrill /

In recent news ...

Lobbying For Musicians' Rights And Fair Pay
In testimony on Nov. 28 before the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet, GRAMMY-winning producer and Recording Academy Chair Emeritus Jimmy Jam confronted supporters of the Internet Radio Fairness Act with a solid set of reasons to oppose reduced royalties for streaming music. "The [IRFA] is anything but fair. But by all means, it's time to have a real conversation about fairness," Jam testified. Several lawmakers agreed with his argument that terrestrial radio's exemption from paying any royalties to performers should be addressed before discussing webcasting royalty rates. The Recording Academy's Chief Advocacy & Industry Relations Officer Daryl P. Friedman said, "The notion of 'jamming' a radio signal took on a new meaning. Jimmy Jam not only effectively killed the IRFA, but blocked the broadcasters' efforts to protect their royalty loophole. The Academy's members had a good day yesterday, thanks in large part to the testimony of its Chair Emeritus." Tech-friendly activists rooting for Internet radio realized that Pandora's push for cheaper music was an uphill battle. Referencing Internet activists' sense that IRFA might be a follow-up to their political efforts against the Stop Online Piracy Act, Cnet News commented, "This effort was less like SOPA and more like SOPA-thetic." Separately, that same day subcommittee chair Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) learned he will be chairing the House Judiciary Committee in next year's incoming Congress, while its current chairman, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), will chair the House's Science, Space and Technology Committee.

British Regulator Quantifies Copyright Ignorance
The first in what will be a series of benchmark consumer surveys of online copyright infringement was published by British regulator Ofcom on Nov. 20. The survey found that one in six Internet users age 12 and above believed they had downloaded or otherwise used illegal content during a three-month period. One survey question that stumped nearly half of respondents asked, "How confident are you that you know what is legal and what isn't in terms of downloading, streaming/accessing and sharing content through the Internet?" Of those surveyed, 28 percent responded "not particularly confident," 17 percent said they were "not at all confident" and 3 percent claimed they "don't know." The research is intended to function alongside objective methods to detect online piracy within the larger consumer education effort governed by Britain's Digital Economy Act. Notification letters from Internet service providers will be sent to infringing customers beginning no sooner than 2014, according to Ofcom Head of Copyright Justin Le Patourel. Ofcom's survey results seem to confirm content creators' contention that informing consumers about their own Internet behavior will be helpful, since nearly half appear ignorant as to whether they participate in online copyright infringement.

UK Operator Of Pirate Site Strikes Deal To Avoid U. S. Extradition
On Nov. 28 a UK High Court judge approved a deferred prosecution agreement for British student Richard O'Dwyer, who made an estimated $230,000 in advertising revenue operating the TV Shack website linking to illegal content. Rather than being extradited to the United States for prosecution, O'Dwyer will pay compensation and travel to the United States to finalize the deal, which includes a promise not to operate an infringing Internet service in the future. TV Shack's domain name was seized by government authorities in 2010. Responding to this development, the MPAA said, "TV Shack was a major facilitator of online content theft, interfering with the ability of our members and other legitimate business people to develop new, innovative and legal ways to bring movies and television shows to fans around the world."

Project "Cyber Monday 3" Site Seizures
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced on Nov. 26 that it seized 101 websites selling counterfeit goods and made one arrest in Project Cyber Monday 3, part of ICE's ongoing Operation In Our Sites. Having conducted similar operations in 2010 and 2011, this has the makings of an annual holiday tradition and was conducted concurrently this year with Project Transatlantic, which resulted in the seizure of 31 domain names with the help of Europol and investigators in Belgium, Denmark, France, Romania, and the UK. ICE Director John Morton said, "Our partnerships enable us to go after criminals who are duping unsuspecting shoppers all over the world. This is not an American problem, it is a global one and it is a fight we must win." Operation In Our Sites has seized 1,630 domains engaged in illegal Internet activities since the program's inception in 2010. The educational banners that are subsequently posted at those Web domains have now been viewed 110 million times.

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.

Click on the "ArtsWatch" tag for links to other GRAMMY News stories in this series.

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