[A2k] Copyright Office Report Sets Forth Blueprint For Phasing Out Statutory Licenses for TV by Anandashankar Mazumdar

Manon Ress manon.ress at keionline.org
Wed Aug 31 14:34:03 PDT 2011

Copyright Office Report Sets Forth Blueprint For Phasing Out Statutory
Licenses for TV by Anandashankar Mazumdar

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Three statutory licenses governing the retransmission of traditional
broadcast television signals by cable and satellite TV service
providers should be phased out and replaced by market-based licensing
mechanisms, according to a 168-page report to Congress submitted Aug.
29 by Maria A. Pallante, register of copyrights.


The report labeled statutory licensing an “artificial construct
created in an earlier era,” and encouraged Congress to begin setting
deadlines for phasing out the statutory licenses, starting with the
licenses that allow cable and satellite services to import “distant
signals” and retransmit them to subscribers. The report says that
elimination of retransmission of “local” signals should be part of a
second phase.

The report notes that many of the market-based options—such as
sublicensing, collective licensing, and direct licensing—have not been
implemented in any practical manner in this industry, but that they
are “feasible” options. However, other possible alternatives should
not be ruled out either.

“Business models may emerge that incorporate these concepts in part or
in combination, and technology will continuously inform the practices
of both licensors and licensees,” the report said. “Over time,
marketplace licensing should evolve in a variety of innovative ways,
subject to investment and experimentation in the marketplace.”

The Copyright Office warned that the industry should be given a
“sufficient transition period” before the statutory licenses are
eliminated, so that service providers and broadcasters are given
sufficient time to negotiate new terms.
Office Has Long Advocated Phase-Out.


Conclusions and Recommendations.

In its Aug. 29 report, the Copyright Office said:

•that copyright owners should be given the flexibility to develop
negotiated licensing options to replace the statutory licenses,

•that sublicensing, while largely untried in this industry, may be feasible,

•that there may be options other than sublicensing, collective
licensing, and direct licensing that the parties should be explored,

•that Congress should set a “date-specific trigger” to phase out and
repeal the distant signal licenses, based on Congress's evaluation of
“the concerns of stakeholders who operate with limited resources in
the broadcast programming distribution chain,” and

•that repeal of the local-signal retransmission provisions should be
kept on for a longer period than the distant-signal provisions.


By Anandashankar Mazumdar

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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