On Monday March 4th, US Register of Copyrights MariaPallantedelivered a speech at Columbia Law School entitled “The Next Great Copyright Act.” Her remarks drew immediate attention within the creative communities and beyond — after all, it’s not every day that the nation’s top official on copyright calls for Congress to overhaul existing law.
[This post authored by FMC Legal Intern Joseph Silver]
The first sale doctrine within American copyright and trademark law has been getting a lot of attention in recent months. A number of federal circuit courts have touched upon this important copyright principle, which says that when a consumer purchases a good on the legitimate marketplace, the law affords them the right to lend, resell and dispose of that item (along with a number of other related uses). However, the first sale doctrine, also known as the exhaustion doctrine, does not permit a purchaser to reproduce, publicly display or perform the work, all of which are exclusive rights held by the copyright holder. Absent a “fair use” defense for consumers, those rules are pretty steadfast. Still, the first sale doctrine is an important limitation on copyright, which allows consumers who have lawfully purchased copyrighted goods to choose how the particular copy they purchased is distributed. This much remains settled. Yet two issues have recently arisen that aren’t so cut-and-dry: whether the first sale doctrine applies to digital goods and whether it applies to goods manufactured internationally.
Future of Music Coalition respects intellectual property and copyright. We believe that musicians and songwriters must have the ability to be compensated for their work, regardless of where or how that work is used or accessed.
We also recognize that creators are not a monolithic group, and may have a variety of perspectives on issues at the intersection of copyright and technology. That’s why we think it is so important that the artist perspective is represented in debates about intellectual property in the information age. read more
And there was a feeling the deal struck the right balance between rights holders’ needs and the rights of Internet customers. “While it is too early to tell whether a graduated response policy will have any measurable effect on the unauthorized distribution of music files, the framework does seem to strike an appropriate balance between access to a crucial communications platform and the need to protect the rights of artists,” said Future of Music Coalition Deputy Director Casey Rae-Hunter.
The legal spotlight has definitely been on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) lately. A few short weeks ago, we told you how the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York handed down a victory for YouTube (owned by Google). In that case, the court interpreted the DMCA to decide that YouTube cannot be held liable for acts of copyright infringement committed by its users.
And, just last week (Monday, July 26), the U.S. Copyright Office created several new DMCA exemptions during a regularly scheduled review of this hunk o’ statute. read more
Future of Music Coalition’s comments to the Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC) in the office’s efforts to promote the development of a Joint Strategic Plan for improving the government’s intellectual property efforts.
FMC recommends that IPEC take into consideration a broad range of stakeholders â€” including the independent music community â€” as it considers issues that could impact this sector, particularly matters pertaining to creators’ access to the still-evolving digital marketplace.
CNET's Greg Sandoval recently posted a fascinating interview with Eric Garland of Big Champagne -- a California-based company that collects data on filesharing and sells it to the content industry (you know, like labels and film studios). As can be imagined, a lot of what Garland tells these companies isn't perceived as good news. But Big Champagne has been at it for a decade, during which peer-to-peer filesharing went from a "hmm, maybe we should pay attention to that," to a "OMG -- where did all of our sales go?" phenomenon. read more
This week, the New York Times is hosting a running debate about copyright, digital rights management, sampling and fair use between Rick Cotton, General Counsel of NBC, and Tim Wu, Professor of Law, Columbia University. This provides some good reading about the complexities and nuances at the intersection of law and technology, from two people with very different opinions.