Copyright Cats and Chickens and Internet Radio Fairness

ISP Graduated Response to Copyright Policing to Launch Nov 28

ISPs are getting ready to launch their copyright enforcement initiative known as Graduated Response starting November 28.  The plan was the collaborative work of the Center for Copyright Information, which is comprised of five Internet service providers (Verizon, Time Warner Cable, AT&T, Comcast, and Cablevision) and representatives of copyright holders (the Motion Picture Association of America and Recording Industry Association of America).  While often referred to as a Six Strikes regime, the program has three essential phases:

First comes the “notice” phase, which simply involves letting users know they’ve been tracked on copyright-infringing sites. . . . Next is the “acknowledgement” phase. This is when the customer will have to actually acknowledge having received those notices. . . .Finally, there’s the “mitigation” phase. This is when users who have traded copyrighted files are actually punished. . .

Punishment will vary by ISP.  For example, Verizon will throttle users  speeds for several days, while Time Warner will block popular sites.  Users will be given notice and have the opportunity to arbitrate the issue after filing a $35 appeal fee.   The program has been criticized by interest groups for being in bed with the entertainment industry, a point highlighted by the fact that the “independent” auditor selected to monitor the program is a former RIAA lobbyist.

House Republicans Take Daring Stance on Copyright Reform, But Then Lose Nerve

The Constitution provides that Congress may “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Time to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.  The original copyright law passed by Congress had a term of 14 years plus renewal for a second term if the author was still alive, but in the Disney age that has morphed to the life of the author plus 70 years (or  120 years after creation for corporate authors).  The House Republican Study Committee (HRSC) issued a briefing paper – “Three Myths about Copyright Law and Where to Fix It” that called into question the current state of the law and made a cogent free market case for how it was stifling and not promoting innovation.  The report was hailed as a “watershed” and positively received among the blogosphere that had abandoned them in the last election, but in a matter of days the HRSC had retracted the report as being published “without adequate review.”

Understanding the Internet Radio Fairness Debate

Royalty rates for radio broadcast of music are set by an arm of the Library of Congress and different standards apply to terrestrial, satellite and internet radio broadcasts (see below).  The Internet Radio Fairness Act (IRFA) introduced by Senator Wyden (D-OR) would set royalty rates, which currently account for over half of internet radio revenues, using the same standard as for satellite radio.    Advocates argue that the bill will help artists make more money by accelerating growth and innovation in Internet radio.  Katy Perry, Rihanna and over one-hundred recording artists have come out against the legislation as unfair to recording artists (all of the artists depicted in the diagram oppose the IRFA).  Others point out that if Pandora simply broadcast comparable levels of advertising as terrestrial radio, its royalties would not be so high as a percentage of revenue.

More Information:  How ISPs will do “six strikes”: Throttled speeds, blocked sites, Ars Technica; U.S. Copyright Surveillance Machine About To Be Switched On, Promises of Transparency Already Broken, Electronic Frontier Foundation; Influential GOP Group Releases, Pulls Shockingly Sensible Copyright Memo,Ars Technica; House Republicans: Copyright Law Destroys Markets; It’s Time For Real Reform, Tech Dirt; The Internet Radio Fairness Act: What it is, why it’s needed,Electronic Frontier Foundation;  Internet Radio Fairness CoalitionKaty Perry, Rihanna sign ad attacking Pandora for copyright proposal, Ars Technica