Tag Archives: copyright reform

5 Take-Aways From The Music Copyright Report

(Originally published February 16, 2015 in Nekst.biz)

In early 2013, the House Judiciary Committee of the U.S. Congress began a comprehensive review of the U.S. copyright laws to determine if the current laws are still relevant and working in the digital age. The results of the music copyright study are presented in the Office’s 245 page report which was published on Feb. 5.

One very profound, but not surprising, statement the Copyright Office made in the report is this. “The Office’s review of the issues has confirmed one overarching point: that our music licensing system is in need of repair.” I would add to that; great need of repair.

I’ve read the full report. While it was not a page turner like Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code”, it held my interest. This is real life, current, and very relevant to all of us in the music industry. It will likely impact our livelihood, and the future of music in the U.S.

(You can read the entire article at http://nekst.biz/5-take-aways-music-copyright-report/)

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The Copyright Laws…They Are A-Changin’

It is happening right now, at this moment. There is no denying it. The U.S. Copyright Law is going to be changed, and the process of review and comments has begun. Are you aware? Are you up to date? Would it impact you? Do you care?

If we are in any way affected by copyright law, I believe we have a responsibility, at this moment, to engage in the process. U.S. lawmakers, the U.S. Copyright Office, and industry leaders, are interested in what we, the stake holders, think. They are asking, they are inviting, and they are concerned. Are we ready to respond, or are we content with letting the changes occur without getting involved? If we don’t have the will to change it, we don’t have the right to criticize it.

This past week, The Copyright Office, on request of the House Judiciary Committee, was scheduled to take part in a roundtable discussion with music leaders in New York. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has held six hearings on the Copyright Law since this past March. According to Maria Pallante, the Register of Copyrights, this is the most activity in copyright hearings “in a very, very long time.” Maria Pallante has presented her own call to copyright change in a lecture delivered on March 4, 2013 at Columbia University, called “The Next Great Copyright Act”, which she also presented to the House Judiciary subcommittee on Intellectual Property a few weeks later. Have you read it? Do you know what some of those changes she is exploring are? (You can read her full lecture at http://www.copyright.gov/docs/next_great_copyright_act.pdf ).

The purpose of this blog for the coming months will be to dive into many, and hopefully most, of the intricate issues the music industry will be dealing with in copyright reform. Oh wait…I’m not going to use the word “reform”. Ms. Pallante has said numerous times that neither she, and to her knowledge, no one in Congress, is calling this “reform”. It’s an update. We’ll see. I believe big changes are necessary, and perhaps some things need to be completely eliminated, while other sections need to be started from scratch. The first Register of Copyrights, Thorvald Solberg, said in 1926, “there comes a time when the “subject ought to be dealt with as a whole, and not by further merely partial or temporizing amendments.” I think we’re now at one of those times.

I was able to spend most of a day last month (December) with Maria Pallante during a visit to Nashville, and I will tell you I found her to be a very smart, capable, dedicated, and forward thinking leader. I believe she is going to prove herself to be an effective “change agent” related to copyright law. She says she believes the updated law needs to be “forward thinking but flexible. It should not attempt to answer the entire universe of possible questions, but, no matter what, it must serve the public interest. Thus, it must confirm and rationalize certain fundamental aspects of the law, including the ability of authors and their licensees to control and exploit their creative works, whether content is distributed on the street or streamed from the cloud.”

The goal of this weekly blog is to provide succinct information, definition and updates on copyright law issues, to discuss specific pain points in the law, and kick around ideas of change. It is to motivate forward thinking stake holders to get engaged, to gather intelligent, new and creative ideas from those people, and to provide a focused forum, or “crowd source” medium, to discuss improvement of the law. It is also to establish the Nashville community as a very real and respected voice in the process.

We’ll cover ideas such as performance royalties for sound recordings in terrestrial radio; whether or not we need a compulsory license; whether the life of post 1978 copyrights should be decreased without additional registrations (an idea already floated by Ms. Pallante); and new license models for the digital space. I have a list of over 40 timely and relevant topics that are ready to be teed up to discuss.

While genuine copyright change is clearly a daunting endeavor, the bell to begin has been rung, and it’s time for critical thinkers to step into the game. Spread the word. We need you. And we need you now. Let’s don’t just leave this to a few individuals in Washington.

“None of us is as smart as all of us.”Chinese proverb

John Barker

ClearBox Rights, LLC

(In order to better keep up to date and engage in this process, you may sign up to automatically receive this blog when it is published weekly, by clicking here https://clearboxrights.wordpress.com/ and entering your email address in the top right and press “Follow”).

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Great Day in Nashville with Maria Pallante, Register of Copyrights

Maria Pallante, the current Register of Copyrights, along with Steve Ruwe, an attorney in the Copyright Office General Counsel’s Office,  came to Nashville yesterday (Dec. 17th) to meet with a number of Nashville’s leaders in publishing and copyright. Maria presented parts of her vision for “The Next Great Copyright Act”, as well as addressing other areas of the Copyright Office.

She said a lot of great things, and was careful to NOT use the word “reform” when talking about what is being discussed in committees related to the Copyright Act.

She also mentioned, but did not dwell on, the idea of shortening the life of post 1978 copyrights to life plus 50 (rather than 70), unless the heirs update their registration with the Copyright Office. Not sure how I feel about that one.

Her complete speech from the Manges Lecture “The Next Great Copyright Act” can be viewed at the link below:
http://www.copyright.gov/docs/next_great_copyright_act.pdf

Now the push is to get DC to focus on Nashville to participate in a future round-table discussion related to changes in the law.

The sponsoring organization, The Copyright Society of the South, has posted links on their website for those of you who are interested in connecting for various newsletters, to read some of the mentioned lectures, or to connect with various legislative groups involved in the Copyright Law review process.

The Copyright Society of the South’s website is www.copyrightsocietyofthesouth.com.

Also, some discussion has begun on the Copyright Society’s LinkedIn page. Whether you were a part of yesterday’s presentation, or missed it and would like to see what others are saying, you may click below to join the discussion. Make sure you join the LinkedIn group.

http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Copyright-Society-South-4830259?gid=4830259&mostPopular=&trk=tyah&trkInfo=tas%3Acopyright%20society%20of%20the%20south%2Cidx%3A1-1-1

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