[A2k] MPAA pleased that the US Copyright Office is asking Congress "to remove these "anachronisms" (i.e 1976 Compulsory license for cable and satellite)

Manon Ress manon.ress at keionline.org
Wed Aug 31 14:22:53 PDT 2011

TV copyright law is targeted again by federal agency
Los Angeles Times


An arcane but crucial copyright law that Hollywood wants repealed is
again under attack by a key government agency.

The U.S. Copyright Office, which advises Congress on copyright issues,
is proposing that lawmakers phase out the cable and satellite
statutory licenses in the Copyright Act, calling it "an artifact of an
earlier era."

Established in 1976, the compulsory license allows cable and satellite
operators to distribute broadcast television signals in return for
paying a one-size-fits-all copyright fee to the Copyright Royalty
Board for the programming carried by those channels.

The Copyright Royalty Board then distributes the fees to copyright
holders such as Hollywood studios, sports leagues and local television
stations. Each year, the board collects tens of millions of dollars in
fees that it distributes to rights holders.

The Copyright Office wants Congress to change the law and require
distributors to negotiate with content rights holders on an individual
basis. The Motion Picture Association of America said Tuesday that it
was pleased that the Copyright Office has "vindicated our position" in
wanting to remove these "anachronisms."

Although programmers and sports leagues may cheer such a move, it
would probably be met with tremendous resistance from the cable and
satellite industries. The Copyright Office has been pushing for a
removal of the compulsory license for years with no success.

First to go, if the Copyright Office finally gets its wish, would be
the distant-signal portion of the act.

For example, if a Los Angeles TV station is carried by a multichannel
video programming distributor outside the Southern California area,
that distributor pays a fee to the Copyright Royalty Board. If the
distant-signal portion of the act were eliminated, the distributor
would have to go to each programming supplier to negotiate an
agreement, a potentially more costly and tedious process.

One company watching this closely will be Tribune Co., the parent of
the Los Angeles Times and a partner in McClatchy-Tribune News Service.
Tribune owns WGN, a Chicago TV station that is carried nationally by
multichannel video programming distributors and hence would be most
affected by any change to the distant-signal rules.

The Copyright Office suggested that after the distant-signal rules
were gutted, Congress could consider how to gradually eliminate the
local rules.

Some broadcasters are also against a change to rules because they
already pay for the rights to sub-license content they get from
Hollywood and sports leagues, and they won't want to give that up. The
cable industry will resist because it is easier and potentially
cheaper to pay one fee to the Copyright Royalty Board than to
negotiate with each rights holder.
Posted on Tue, Aug. 30, 2011 07:26 PM

Read more: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/08/30/3110397/tv-copyright-law-is-targeted-again.html#ixzz1Wdx27prE

Manon Anne Ress
Knowledge Ecology International
1621 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20009 USA
manon.ress at keionline.org

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