Oxenford looks at Register of Copyrights proposals for copyright reform

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - 12:30pm

We're written several times about U.S. Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante's efforts to spur Congress to reform copyright law.

The usage, creation, and consumption of copyright material in 2013 is massively different than even 15 years ago, when the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was passed -- the last major update to copyright law. Many of the concepts created even that recently no longer fit today's reality.

Streaming radio legal and royalties expert David Oxenford summarized some of Pallante's thinking today. He wrote of Pallante aims for updated copyright laws:

"Copyright owners must have the meaningful ability to protect the content that they create. But the public must also be able to access that content in a meaningful ways. Both creators and users of content have responsibilities to participate in the larger copyright economy to make sure that it functions properly."

He cited Pallante's call for "a full performance right in sound recordings," which we wrote about here. While we wrote specifically about a potential broadcast royalty obligation for sound recordings, Oxenford points out that Pallante's assertion could potentially mean sound recording royalties for "bars, restaurants, stadiums, and all other venues where recorded music is performed." (Like broadcast radio in the U.S., today these venues pay publishers and songwriters to publicly perform copyright song compositions, but not for recordings.)

There's more, and we recommend reading Oxenford's summary of Pallante's thinking in Broadcast Law Blog here.

Copyright chief Pallante renews priority for "full sound recording performance right," aka on-air radio royalty

Thursday, June 6, 2013 - 12:05pm

Speaking at the World Creators Summit in Washington, D.C., U.S. Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante confirmed "Provid(ing) a full public performance right for sound recordings" -- assumed by some to mean broadcast radio royalties for records -- is a policy priority of the U.S. Copyright Office.

In October of 2011 the Copyright Office officially stated terrestrial radio royalties were a priority for the next two years, basing the argument on the need for parity with other services like Internet radio.

"There is an economic disadvantage between the businesses that offer sound recordings over the Internet as compared to those that offer them over the air (the former are required to pay performance royalties while the latter are not)," read the "Priorities and Special Projects" paper released in October 2011 (see more in RAIN here). "Finding a way to reconcile these differences has been a long-standing goal of Congress and the Copyright Office, and the Office will continue to provide analysis and support on this important issue."

Earlier this year Pallante pledged to work towards copyright law reform, focusing specifically on the DMCA (which is the primary law governing Internet radio's use of copyright sound recordings). See more in RAIN here.

The Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet Subcommittee of the House Judiciary held its first hearing on comprehensive copyright review last month (see RAIN here).

House Judiciary subcommittee copyright reform hearing to focus on "Copyright Principles Project" paper

Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 11:25am

The Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet Subcommittee of the House Judiciary will hold its first hearing on comprehensive copyright review this afternoon. It's to be the first in a series of hearings "to determine whether the copyright laws are still working in the digital age to reward creativity and innovation," says Judiciary chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).

In March (RAIN coverage here) Register of Copyrights for the U.S. Copyright Office Maria Pallante went public with her intention to push Congress for copyright reform, focusing mostly on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Late last month Goodlatte (RAIN coverage here) promised a comprehensive review of U.S. copyright law by his committee.

Today's hearing is called "A Case Study for Consensus Building: The Copyright Principles Project." It will focus on a whitepaper from a group called the Copyright Principles Project (which is online here).

The CPP document, according to TechDirt (here), "looked at 25 possible areas for reform," and "was put together by a wide variety of folks from different backgrounds."

Not enough different backgrounds, according to an editorial in Politico here. Musician David Lowery criticizes that, "There are no creators involved in the Copyright Principles Project at all! The Internet has democratized creativity, but this group of Big Tech and Big Media companies and the lawyers and academics who love them is about as undemocratic a 'consensus' as any artist could imagine."

Goodlatte said, "The Committee is not endorsing the specific recommendations of the Copyright Principles Project. However, it is my hope that this hearing will help demonstrate how interested parties can come together to discuss copyright issues in a productive way."

Goodlatte, Judiciary Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI), subcommittee Chairman Howard Coble (R-NC), and subcommittee Ranking Member Mel Watt (D-NC) have released statements in advance the hearing here.

Experts say fixing copyright law is nearly always an arduous battle

Thursday, March 21, 2013 - 12:40pm

Register of Copyrights for the U.S. Copyright Office Maria Pallante has made clear she'll work to convince Congress to reform this country's copyright law.

Yesterday the House subcommittee that oversees intellectual property and the internet (these guys) met to discuss those recommendations. The most-recent significant revision to copyright law was 1998's Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Among many other provisions (many controversial), it's that law that governs the process by which webcasters pay royalties for the use of copyright sound recordings.  

Pallante says she's focused mostly on fixing the DMCA itself.

Web news source The Verge writes, "most of the tech and entertainment lawyers and executives (we've) interviewed... are skeptical Pallante can bring about any significant change — while many on both sides are clamoring for an update of the DMCA, many of the interested parties fear that they could end up with an even unfriendlier law."

Read more in The Verge here.

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