ArtsWatch: Open Internet Bills Hit Congress

Lawmakers respond to court neutered neutrality with proposed legislation
February 10, 2014 -- 6:59 am PST
By Philip Merrill /

In recent news ...

Bills Introduced To Reinstate FCC Open Internet Rules
On Feb. 3 the Open Internet Preservation Act was introduced as S. 1981 by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and as H.R. 3982 by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.). In response to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit's Jan. 14 rejection of the Federal Communications Commission's anti-discrimination and anti-blocking regulations, the identical bills propose to restore the FCC rules until "the commission takes final action in the proceedings remanded to the commission in that decision." Co-sponsor Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said without rules, "companies that can pay to play for fast lanes will have an advantage over innovators without such deep pockets. This bill puts those protections back in place long enough to allow the FCC to identify a new approach to preserving a level playing field for innovation and competition, consistent with the court's guidance." The weakness of this approach is the bills' absence of Republican support, making House passage unlikely. The GOP sees these general principles as unnecessary restrictions on marketplace commerce that could harm innovation.

House Hearing On Fair Use Supports The Legislative Status Quo
On Jan. 28 the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet held a hearing on the scope of fair use as part of its ongoing review of the U.S. copyright code. University of Georgia lecturer and Camper Van Beethoven/Cracker guitarist David Lowery represented the panel when he testified that fair use "is working as intended and … no legislative intervention is needed at this time." Other witnesses included two law professors, author Naomi Novik speaking for fan fiction, and Newspaper Association of America General Counsel Kurt Wimmer, who noted his members rely on fair use to report the news and count on copyright to protect their ability to recoup costs. Also on Jan. 28, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) was selected as ranking minority member of the subcommittee, following Mel Watt's appointment to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Counterfeiting Web Domains Seized Related To Super Bowl XLVIII
Timed to coincide with Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2, as in previous years, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement worked in conjunction with the National Football League to bust online sports merchandise counterfeiters. The 163 Web domains seized in this year's Operation In Our Sites sting brings the total to 2,713. Officials seized more than $21 million in counterfeit NFL merchandise, made 50 arrests and assisted Mexican law enforcement pursuing a similar operation. Separately, on Jan. 23–24 the Department of Justice charged four defendants with first-ever mobile app counterfeiting charges for illegally selling more than 1 million copyrighted Android apps.

Digital Single Market For European Songwriters' Rights Management Moves Ahead
On Feb. 4 European Parliament approved a directive on collective rights management, following the European Commission's 2012 proposal. Containing requirements for multi-territorial licensing, financially responsible management and a bevy of other important details, parliamentary approval is a step forward for efforts to unify European content licensing into a digital single market. The directive is still pending an expected ratification by the European Council. Once it takes effect, countries in the European Union will each be expected to enact national legislation within two years.

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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