ArtsWatch: Resisting Mobile Radio Mandates

House resolution opposes compulsory radio tuners on mobile devices
April 25, 2011 -- 7:32 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 April 14 Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) introduced H. Con. Res. 42, the Creativity and Innovation Resolution, opposing "any mandate for the inclusion of terrestrial broadcast radio tuners in the manufacture or sale of mobile devices." The resolution was co-sponsored by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Judiciary Committee. On April 18 The Recording Academy joined with the Consumer Electronics Association, CTIA — The Wireless Association, and the RIAA to announce their multi-industry support for H. Con. Res. 42. Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow said, "The music community wants to see the growth of distribution platforms that compensate musicians and performers. The most exciting new mobile devices are also the distribution platforms that fully compensate musicians and performers. FM radio, by contrast, does not." Last October terrestrial radio broadcasters proposed to pay performance royalties for the first time, but sought mandatory inclusion of FM tuners on cell phones, among other concessions, as a trade-off. On April 20 the National Association of Broadcasters urged Congress not to support the Creativity and Innovation Resolution and launched a "Radio Rocks My Phone" ad campaign. The resolution's introduction coincided with The Academy's GRAMMYs on the Hill Advocacy Day on April 14 in Washington, D.C., and more than 150 members of the recording industry community called on legislators to encourage their support.

On the cybersecurity front, the White House released its National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace at an event on April 15 at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said, "Working together, innovators, industry, consumer advocates, and the government can develop standards so that the marketplace can provide more secure online credentials, while protecting privacy, for consumers who want them." Separately, on April 14 the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and USTelecom sent the White House a consolidated Internet service provider position paper proposing a framework for cybersecurity legislation. The framework calls for the federal government to improve its own security policies so it can serve as a role model, engage in a robust partnership with the private sector, and fund education and public relations initiatives for students and consumers.

On April 19 consumer advocates Knowledge Ecology International published an analysis of excerpts from U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk's written responses to follow-up questions from his March 9 Senate Finance Committee testimony. With regards to treaty language negotiated by the USTR — particularly the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement — KEI observed a discrepancy between the flexibility Kirk said Congress will retain to change copyright law and the perception among European regulators that ACTA is a "binding agreement." Consumer advocates have put ACTA through considerable scrutiny and it comes as no surprise that this process continues, but given the importance of treaties as a tool to improve intellectual property enforcement abroad, this might be a nit worth picking. Kirk's general position seems to be that U.S. trade treaties require other countries to implement the kind of strong IP protection that U.S. laws already provide.

The Copyright Royalty Board commenced a rulemaking proceeding on April 19 in response to a petition last month from SoundExchange pertaining to the distribution of royalties collected from 2004–2009 for digital transmissions. SoundExchange claims it has done everything possible to help licensed services provide records of works used during that period, but a pool of 4.5 percent of the royalties from that time frame cannot be distributed because of missing or unusable reports. Comments on SoundExchange's proposed use of proxy data as a reasonable basis to distribute the royalties collected are due by May 19.

YouTube announced copyright policy changes on April 14, including a humorous educational video titled "YouTube Copyright School." Viewing the short video and taking a quiz can enable some copyright offenders to have old "strikes" for infringement removed from their track record. The video school's protagonist — Russell the piratical squirrel — initially gets ill when copyright is defined for him but later succeeds by posting his completely original "Piranha Juggling Cannon Act!!" and attracting more than 2.1 million views. Consumer advocates have faulted the clip for failing to better convey the principles of fair use. The Electronic Frontier Foundation said, "We're all in favor of copyright education. But YouTube needs to develop a new curriculum that helps users — and content owners — understand what's possible, not just what's forbidden."

On April 19, Neelie Kroes, European Commission vice president for the digital agenda, summarized new rules relevant to Net neutrality that will take effect on May 25. Violations will be independently monitored and the results published at the end of the year. Kroes said, "If I am not satisfied, I will not hesitate to come up with more stringent measures, which may take the form of guidance or even general legislative measures to achieve the competition and choice consumers deserve. If this proves to be insufficient, I am ready to prohibit the blocking of lawful services or applications."

April 26 is World Intellectual Property Day, with this year's focus on designing the future. Activities are planned in dozens of countries and this year's celebration can be followed on Facebook.


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