TV and music content creators and their broadcast distributors are on the same page when it comes to opposing the FCC’s indecency enforcement regime, but differ on how the Supreme Court should approach its review of those regs. read more
THELEDE: Media Access Project, a public-interest law firm, filed a brief on Thursday asking the Supreme Court to strike down the Federal Communications Commission’s indecency policy as unconstitutionally vague.
The Supreme Court already ruled in the case, upholding the FCC’s fine on Fox for airing expletives during the Billboard Music Awards in 2002 and 2003. But the court only addressed whether the FCC’s fine was arbitrary, and sent the case back to a lower court to determine the policy’s constitutionality. That lower court struck down the FCC’s policy as violating the First Amendment, and the Supreme Court has agreed to re-hear the case. read more
This case is based on televised expletives aired on the 2002 and 2003 Billboard Music Awards broadcasts. Originally, the FCC determined that the utterances, whether intentional or not, were indecent after a slew of complaints were sent to the commission. During such an evaluation, the FCC queries whether the utterances “depict[ed] sexual or excretory organs or activities.” Fox appealed the ruling, and the Supreme Court held that the FCC’s ruling should stand because it was not “arbitrary and capricious” (in non-legalese that just means the FCC didn’t act crazy). When the Supreme Court sent the ruling back down to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, those New York-based justices declared the indecency policy so vague that it unconstitutionally restrained speech. On its second trip up to the highest of high courts, we should get a final answer as to whether the FCC’s indecency policy will stand.
Like FMC’s previous amicus briefs from July 2008 and September 2009, this filing demonstrates the “vague and arbitrary” nature of the FCC’s current indecency policy. The result of this policy has been a chilling effect on creativity on the public airwaves, due to broadcasters’ fears of getting fined for airing “offensive” content. For example, Ken Burns’ WWII documentary “The War” was aired in two different versions to satisfy PBS affiliates worried about possible FCC sanctions. Creators are left guessing what constitutes indecent material, which leads to self-censoring and ultimately deprives the public (and artists) of access to a variety of worthwhile content.
This post was authored by FMC Policy Consultant Adam Holofcener.
As the infamous Eminem once rapped, “The FCC won’t let me be.” Don’t worry, Em — the Federal Communications Commission isn’t singling you out. In fact, the FCC’s indecency policy applies to everyone who would be seen or heard on broadcast media.
The FCC’s policy is intended to keep content relatively “clean” between the hours of 6 am and 10 pm. A worthy goal, but how does it work in practice? Turns out not very well. As several courts have found, the FCC’s current indecency policy is unreasonably vagueand can lead to a chilling of creative expression. Now, it’s once again the Supreme Court’s turn to weigh in. read more
Future of Music Coalition is once again curating a number of conversations at the annual Association of Performing Arts Presenters conference in New York City, January 8-12, 2010. Join us for sessions on the issues at the intersection of arts, technology and law; media, copyright and technology; and health insurance for creators.
To attend these sessions you need to be registered for the Arts Presenters conference. Click here for registration details. If you are an artist and would like to attend these sessions only and will not go to the APAP conference, email us at nicole[at]futureofmusic[dot]org
Head to FMC's official APAP page to see the discussions and presentations we'll be offering. read more
We did it! Another amazing Future of Music Policy Summit is behind us, but we’ll always have the memories. This year’s conference â€” our eighth â€” was probably our best yet; if you were with us at Georgetown University in DC from Oct. 4-6, you definitely know what we’re talking about. Maybe you were one of the thousands of people who watched the live webcast? Either way, we thank you so much for participating in the event. Read on for some of the highlights, as well as a few other things we’ve been working on in our “spare time.”
1. Future of Music Policy Summit 2009: awesomeness roundup!
2. FMC, PBS’ Independent Lens & Community Cinema present COPYRIGHTCRIMINALS
3. Music 2.0 and the “29 Streams”
4. Big wins for Low Power FM
5. Performance Rights Act passes in Senate Committee
6. FMC’s Michael Bracy on NPR’s “Sound Opinions”
7. Still fighting for net neutrality
8. FMC, musicians and speech
9. Travel and appearances
10. SanFran MusicTech is back!
11. How are we doing?