FMC has been closely monitoring the Subcommittee’s ongoing review of the Copyright Act, with special attention to musicians’ needs and perspectives. Here’s a chronology of events so far, with links to our coverage and commentary, along with video of the archived hearings.
October 19, 1976 - Copyright Act of 1976 signed into law by President Gerald Ford. This was the first major revision to the copyright act since 1909.
October 28, 1998 - Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) signed into law by President Bill Clinton. This act was the first to address new developments presented by digital technology, and included anti-circumvention provisions and “safe harbors” for online service providers that comply with notice-and-takedown requirements.
Read: FMC’s archive on the DMCA.
March 20, 2013 - Copyright Office Registrar Maria Pallante calls for a comprehensive update to the Copyright Act.
Following a Columbia Law School address outlining ways the Copyright Act could be updated to address current and emerging technologies, US Copyright Office Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante was invited to share her thoughts directly with the Subcommittee. In her testimony, Pallante outlined several areas in need of review, and emphasized that the needs of creators and the public shouldn’t be at odds.
Read: Pallante’s Columbia Law School address “The Next Great Copyright Act”
Read: Pallante’s written testimony
Read: FMC blog post: Copyright Goes to Congress
Watch: Pallante appears before House Judiciary Subcomittee
Watch: Pallante keynote at Future of Music Summit
April 26, 2013 - Rep. Bob Goodlatte announces that House Subcommittee will review Copyright Act.
On World Intellectual Property Day, Subcommittee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) announced that the Judiciary Committee would indeed begin a comprehensive review of the U.S. copyright law in the coming months.
May 8, 2013 - Hearing: “A Case Study for Consensus Building: The Copyright Principles Project”
The first hearing featured five participants who co-authored a cooperative study on copyright. Rep. Goodlatte remarked that these academics—representing interests ranging from the creative industries to the technology sector to the public interest—were invited “as an example of how people with divergent views on copyright law can productively debate a range of copyright issues.” The hearing was meant to set a more productive and less polarized tone for copyright debates in the post-SOPA era. Directly after the hearing, FMC submitted written testimony to the Committee for the official record, calling for creators themselves to be represented in future hearings.
July 25, 2013 - Hearing: “Innovation in America: The Role of Copyrights”
This hearing created more of a stir, as Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) announced his intentions to introduce a bill recognizing a performance right for sound-recordings on AM/FM radio which would allow sound recording owners and performers to get paid when their songs are played. Witnesses included various creative industries, as well as advocacy organizations like the Copyright Alliance and an independent record label, Yep Roc. The hearing highlighted the need for copyright protection for working-class creators and not just large media corporations and major rightsholders.
August 1, 2013 - Hearing: “Innovation in America: The Role of Technology”
The third hearing focused on those working in technology-driven fields. Witnesses included representatives from the electronics sector, media corporations, cloud storage companies and the crowdfunding site Indiegogo. While much of the hearing was spent on topics related to patent law and anecdotal philosphizing, there was some substantive discussion of disability exemptions and DMCA notice and takedown procedures.
September 12, 2013 - Hearing: “The Role of Voluntary Agreements in the US Intellectual Property System”
This hearing examined the role that voluntary-private-sector agreements play in protecting intellectual property, and addressed music piracy alongside other IP issues like counterfeit prescriptions. Witnesses included various participants in such agreements. FMC submitted testimony affirming the positive role played by voluntary agreements while also emphasizing the importance of oversight, transparency and independent music sector perspectives.
November 11, 2013 - Hearing: “The Rise of Innovative Business Models: Content Delivery Methods for the Digital Age.”
This hearing focused on emerging business models, including MP3 downloads and streaming services. Panelists included digital retailers, representatives of content industries, and consumer-focused nonprofits. Areas of concern included including the need for a centralized copyright database and a streamlined licensing process, risk of statutory damage awards and the importance of maintaining an open internet.
January 14, 2014 - Hearing: “The Scope of Copyright Protection”
This hearing focused on the “making available” right, copyright protection for broadcasts, and whether state laws and building codes should be in public domain; it also included some discussion of the length of copyright terms, statutory damage caps, alternative copyright revenue models, and the economic impacts of file sharing. Witnesses included two university professors, a copyright lawyer, Public.Resource.Org and American National Standards Institute.
January 28, 2014 - Hearing: “The Scope of Fair Use”
This hearing focused on fair use doctrine—a set of provisions that allow the unlicensed use of copyrighted material in new works under specific conditions. Witnesses on the panel included law professors Peter Jazsi and June Besek, author Naomi Novik representing the Organization for Transformative Works, songwriter and musician David Lowery of Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven and Kurt Wimmer of the Newspaper Association of America.
March 13, 2014 - Hearing: “Section 512 of Title 17”
This hearing focused on Section 512 of the DMCA, which contains “notice and takedown” provisions, by which internet service providers are shielded from liability for infringement committed by users if they expeditiously comply with rightsholders’ requests to take down infringing content upon receiving notice. Topics included ways to make this process more effective and efficient, particularly for independent artists and small/medium size entities, and the problem of fraudulent takedown notices. There was also some broader discussion of antipiracy strategies.
April 2, 2014 - Hearing: “Preservation and Reuse of Copyrighted Works”
This hearing focused on topics related to the preservation of cultural heritage, specifically in relation to orphan works (copyrighted works whose owners are hard to find or locate) and the controversies over mass digitization. Panelists included representatives of various creative industries, as well as librarians and legal experts.
May 15, 2014 - Hearing: “Compulsory Video Licenses of Title 17”
This hearing addressed the expiring satellite license and two additional video licenses.
June 2, 2014- Hearing: “First Sale”
This hearing was a field hearing on first sale doctrine, specifically focusing on analog and digital.
Location was in New York City at the Southern District Courthouse. The witnesses were be attorney Jonathan Band representing the Owner’s Rights Initiative, New York Public Library Associate Director of Copyright and Information Policy Greg Cram, Matthew Glotzer of the Fox Entertainment Group, ReDigi founder John Ossenmacher, graphic designer Ed Shems of edfredned illustration and design, Attorney Emery Simon of the Business Software Alliance, VP of legal affairs for Public Knowledge Sherwin Siy, John Wiley & Sons CEO Stephen M. Smith, and UCLA law professor John Villasenor.
June 10, 2014- Hearing: “Music Licensing Under Title 17 Part 1”
Three bill proposals were covered: The Songwriter Equity Act, which would adjust royalty rates for songwriters, The Protecting the Rights of Musicians Act, which would compel AM/FM broacasters to compensate performers and sound recording owners, and The RESPECT Act, which would demand that internet and satellite radio services pay performers and sound recording owners for pre-1972 works.
This hearing, the first of two on music licensing, was held Tuesday, June 10 at 10am. The witnesses were Managing Director of OneHouse LLC Jim Griffin, Executive Director of the TV Music License Committee Will Hoyt, NMPA CEO David Israelite, Executive Director of the Digital Media Association Lee Knife, songwriter Lee Thomas Miller, BMI CEO Michael O’Neill and CEO of the Recording Academy Neil Portnow.
June 25, 2014- Hearing: “Music Licensing Under Title 17 Part 2”
Issues explored included updating correct licensing procedures, creating a public performance right for AM/FM radio, and compelling Congress to take action regarding sound recordings created prior to 1972.
The second of the two hearings on music licensing was held on Wednesday, June 25 at 10am. The witnesses for this hearing were be singer songwriter Rosanne Cash of the American Music Association, attorney Delida Costin representing Pandora, SiriusXM CFO David Frear, SoundExchange CEO Mike Huppe, RIAA CEO Cary Sherman, Darius Van Arman of the American Association of Independent Music, Charles Warfield of the National Association of Broadcasters and ASCAP president Paul Williams.
July 15, 2014- Hearing: “Moral Rights, Termination Rights, Resale Royalty, and Copyright Term”
Topics covered included “resale royalty,” which concerns visual artists’ ability to benefit from sales of their work occurring after the initial sale, artists’ right to protest use of their work that they find objectionable, and potentially extending the length of the copyright term.
The hearing was held on Tuesday, July 15 at 1pm. The witnesses for this hearing were Rick Carnes, President of the Songwriters Guild of America, Professor Michael W. Carroll, Director of the American University Washington College of Law Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property, Karyn Temple Claggett, Associate Register of Copyrights and Director of Policy & International Affairs for the U.S. Copyright Office, Thomas Sydnor II, Visiting Fellow for the Center for Internet, Communications and Technology Policy at the American Enterprise Institute, and Casey Rae, V.P. for Policy and Education at Future of Music Coalition.
July 24, 2014- Hearing: “Copyright Remedies”
The focus of this hearing was on potentially adjusting allowable statutory damages amounts, lumping streaming penalties together with unlicensed download penalties, and establishing a small claims process to deal with lower dollar amount infringement suits.
The hearing was held on Thursday, July 24 at 1:30 pm. The witnesses for this hearing were David Bitkower, Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, Steven M. Tepp, President and Chief Executive Officer for Sentinel Worldwide, Matt Schruers, Vice President for Law and Policy at Computer & Communications Industry Association, Sherwin Siy, Vice President of Legal Affairs for Public Knowledge, and Nancy E. Wolff, Partner at Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard, LLP.