As part of our mission to make sure that artists' and musicians' voices are not left out of the policy debate, FMC regularly prepares and submits public comments, documents, and testimony to the appropriate rulemaking bodies. In these documents, the FMC strives to inject the debate with information about how policies can affect artists and the public at large.
Comments address issues related to copyright, creativity and the internet
Future of Music Coalition filed the following comments with the United States Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) in an inquiry related to a previously published “green paper” from the Internet Policy Taks Force (a joint effort also including the United States Copyright Office and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration).
FMC Testimony in House Subcommitee on the Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet
Future of Music Coalition submitted the following written testimony in the House Subcommitee on the Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet’s hearing on “The Role of Voluntary Agreements in the US Intellectual Property System.”
FMC respects the process of multi-stakeholder engagement to identify shared solutions to persistent issues around protecting copyright and other forms of intellectual property online, but stresses that oversight, transparency and the inclusion of the independent music sector in the process is crucial to the success of these initiatives.
Agency Seeks Comment on Adopting Egregious Cases Policy
In June 2012, the Supreme Court decided in FCC v. Fox that the FCC’s indecency policy was too vague and violated broadcasters’ due process rights by not providing “fair notice” of clear rules. FMC and the Center For Creative Voices in Media filed an amicus brief in the case, arguing that the FCC regulation was applied so arbitrarily that it chills creative expression. Now, a year later, we — along with the rest of the interested public — have the opportunity to tell the FCC what we think their indecency policy should be. The following are comments submitted to the FCC in their rulemaking proceedings.
Future of Music Coalition Testimony to House Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet
Submitted for "A Case Study for Consensus Building: The Copyright Principles Project" hearing
On Thursday, May 16, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition Policy and the Internet held a hearing entitled “A Case Study for Consensus Building: The Copyright Principles Project.”
FMC’s written testimony, which was submitted to the Committee for the official record, makes the basic point that creators must be included in future hearings, as their perspectives will help inform any apparaisal of the impact of existing (or proposed) rules. We also examine specific issues that we believe the Committee should examine in the course of its review of current copyright law.
On March 6, 2013, Future of Music Coalition submitted reply comments to the United States Copyright Office Notice of Inquiry Concerning Orphan Works and Mass Digitization. All reply comments can be viewed here.
In Response to CO Inquiry Concerning Orphan Works and Mass Digitization
Future of Music Coalition filed comments with the United States Copyright Office in its inquiry around Orphan Works — works whose owners are hard or impossible to identify or locate. Orphan works exist in a purgatory of sorts, not able to be used in new creative efforts or made available to the public due to uncertainty over the status of their ownership.
In our comments, FMC describes ways in which authors and copyright owners can be eligible for limited remedies if an orphaned work is used without prior permission. We seek to strike a balance between new users, the public and the creator and rightsholder community, by offering concrete solutions to a problem that has bedeviled policymakers for more than a decade.
House Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition Policy, and The Internet
Executive Office Seeks Public Input on Updating Nation's IP Enforcement Agenda
The Federal Government is starting the process of developing a new Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement. By committing to common goals, the U.S. Government will more effectively and efficiently combat intellectual property infringement. In this request for comments, the U.S. Government, through the Office of the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (“IPEC”), invited public input and participation in shaping the Administration’s intellectual property enforcement strategy.
Future of Music Coalition’s comments highlight the importance of oversight and data assessment within existing enforcement policies, the need for consultation with a broader set of stakeholders and a proactive approach to licensing as a means to address persistent issues in the digital music ecosystem.
Testimony of Deputy Director Casey Rae on "The Universal Music Group/EMI Merger and the Future of Digital Music"
Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights
A broad array of groups express concerns about impact of tying services on consumers & marketplaces
Future of Music Coalition joined a broad array of consumer, creator and public interest groups to express concerns about Verizon’s plans to discontinue standalone retail broadband service. We argued that the practice of tying broadband service to other services prevents consumer choice, limits consumers from porting telephone numbers, and essentially forces consumers to purchase local services they do not want – either because they have a wireless option or because they prefer to use VoIP or other alternatives. The net effect is to act as a drag on the adoption of broadband and new IP technologies as well as alternative, competitive voice options by making other standalone services economically unattractive.
Commission seeks public input on rulemaking for the implementation of Low Power FM service
FMC fully supports the promulgation of rules that allow for an increased number of LPFM stations as well as more diverse, original programming at those stations. Additionally, we assert that careful attention should be paid to how these stations are utilized, and whether they are helping to foster local culture and community engagement. From our perspective, this goal is at the heart of the Commission’s own work around LPFM — from the initial conception of how to best utilize these frequencies to provide true local radio to the present Notice.
This filing builds on ongoing work by FMC to ensure a more vibrant, accessible radio landscape for musicians.
A broad array of groups urge Congress to preserve access and innovation in mobile spectrum
Future of Music Coalition joined a broad array of consumer, creator and public interest groups urging Congress to approach “voluntary spectrum auctions” in a manner that preserves innovation, openness and competition. As mobile spectrum becomes a primary means for internet connectivity, we suggest that the potential for further innovation be preserved in order to bring robust, affordible broadband to more Americans.
On February 15, 2012, Future of Music Coalition sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission voicing concerns about the propsed aquisition of EMI Music by Universal Music Group (UMG). In it, we describe how competition allows for more innovation and opportunities for artists, and that the sheer market power of a post-acquisition UMG would inhibit the growth of the legitimate digital music marketplace.
Comments of Public Knowledge, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Future of Music Coalition
Public Knowledge (PK), Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and Future of Music Coalition (FMC) commend the Copyright Office for inviting public comments in the matter of remedies for small copyright claims. Providing copyright owners with the ability to enforce small claims is important to ensure the effective functioning of the copyright system. Equally important is the ability of defendants to defend meritorious claims. While a suit in federal district court is expensive, it also provides various procedural safeguards that permit effective presentation of cases and protect the rights of defendants. These safeguards play an important role in copyright cases, which often raise complex issues. Even where a dispute involves small monetary amounts, it is likely to involve complex issues that touch on free expression, privacy, and competition policy.
Therefore, we endorse the Office’s intention to study the issue more carefully before making any recommendations. These comments are intended to assist that preliminary consideration by raising a few initial concerns. First, to the extent that an alternative system to a suit in federal district court is proposed, that alternative must ensure that it does not jeopardize procedural protections available to defendants. Second, the particular design of the alternative system should be informed by empirical evidence regarding the costs and benefits for all parties to the litigation, as well as the public who may be deprived of access to creative expression as a result of a court ruling.
Re: MB Dkt 09-182, 2010 Quadrennial Review – Review of the Commission’s Broadcast Ownership Rules and Other Rules Adopted Pursuant to Section 202 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996
The Honorable Julius Genachowski
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554
Re: MB Dkt 09-182, 2010 Quadrennial Review – Review of the Commission’s Broadcast Ownership Rules and Other Rules Adopted Pursuant to Section 202 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996
Dear Chairman Genachowski:
We, the undersigned organizations, urge the Federal Communications Commission to make diversity a central focus of its upcoming Quadrennial Media Ownership Rule Review.
The strength of our country lies in the diversity of our people. Our media system will better serve the public interest when it draws on the diverse backgrounds, perspectives and talents of the population. Unfortunately, ownership of the nation’s media outlets consistently fails to reflect this diversity.
Women and people of color historically have been grossly underrepresented in ownership of radio and television stations — media forms that use the public airwaves and rank as our nation’s most popular and influential outlets. Women comprise over 51 percent of the population yet hold only 6 percent of radio and TV station licenses. And while people of color make up over 36 percent of the U.S. population, they hold just over 7 percent of radio licenses and 3 percent of TV licenses.1
The continued absence of FCC action in the face of deep and intractable ownership disparities is unacceptable. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently affirmed that “ownership diversity is an important aspect of the overall media ownership regulatory framework.”2 Yet the FCC has failed to adopt proactive policies to remedy these disparities. Furthermore, it has persistently neglected even to examine or address the impact of existing media market consolidation on broadcast ownership opportunities for women and people of color. The FCC must take care not to repeat the mistakes of prior administrations by “pun[ting] yet again on this important issue.”3
Most importantly, while the FCC assesses the impact of its media ownership rules and pursues more active measures to address longstanding disparities in broadcast media ownership, it must not undercut the benefits of such measures by allowing greater consolidation of broadcast outlets.
Existing media concentration levels already limit ownership opportunities for historically underrepresented groups. Excess consolidation has crowded out female and minority owners, who tend to be single-station owners who cannot compete with consolidated groups for programming and advertising revenue. Allowing increased consolidation in local media markets would raise station prices and further diminish the already limited number of stations available for purchase. This would leave women and people of color with fewer opportunities to become media owners and promote diverse programming in local communities.
In conclusion, we urge the FCC to do the following:
1. Evaluate the impact of its media ownership rules on ownership opportunities for women and people of color.
2. Take proactive measures to promote ownership of broadcast stations by underrepresented groups.
3. Guard against further erosion of media ownership among these groups by maintaining existing media ownership limits.
Absent these measures, ownership levels among underrepresented groups will continue to decline and the promise of a diverse media system that serves the information needs of all people will continue to elude our nation.
Alliance for Community Media
American Association of University Women
Asian American Journalists Association
Center for Media Justice
Center for Social Inclusion
Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
Feminist Majority Foundation
Future of Music Coalition
Institute for Local Self-Reliance
International Museum of Women
Media Equity Collaborative
Media Literacy Project
National Alliance for Media Art & Culture
National Association of Black Journalists
National Association of Hispanic Journalists
National Council of Negro Women
National Council of Women Media and Technology Task Force
National Council of Women’s Organizations
National Hispanic Media Coalition
National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association
National Organization for Women Foundation
National Women’s Law Center
Native American Journalists Association
Native Public Media
New Moon Girls
People’s Production House
Prometheus Radio Project
Rainbow PUSH Coalition
Reclaim the Media!
Southern Connecticut State University Women’s Studies Program
UNITY: Journalists of Color
Women, Action, & the Media
Women In Media & News
Women’s Media Center
Women Who Tech
1 S. Derek Turner, Out of the Picture 2007: Minority & Female TV Station Ownership in the United States, 2007, http://www.freepress.net/files/otp2007.pdf, and S. Derek Turner, Off the Dial: Female and Minority Radio Station Ownership in the United States, 2007, http://www.freepress.net/files/off_the_dial.pdf.
2 Prometheus Radio Project v. FCC, 652 F. 3d 431, 472 (Third Circuit, 2011)
3 Id. at 471.
From Future of Music Coalition, the National Alliance for Media Arts & Culture and Fractured Atlas
On November 4, 2011, Future of Music Coaition, the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture and Fractured Atlas sent the following letter to Senate leadership, urging them not to broadly repudiate the ’s Open Internet Order.
Since its inception, the internet has represented a powerful tool for the exchange of information and ideas. In recent years, it has also contributed greatly to the emergence of novel platforms for the dissemination of creative content. It is as members of the arts community who have come to depend on these structures that we write to you today.
Creators, in particular, depend on open internet structures to engage in a variety of ways, including direct interaction with audiences, fans and patrons, as well as collaboration with other artists. From musicians to filmmakers to writers to independent labels to arts and service organizations, today’s creative community depends on the internet to conduct business and contribute to the rich tapestry that is American culture.
Today’s creators are taking advantage of technologies fostered by the internet to deliver a diverse array of content to consumers, while creating efficient new ways to “do for ourselves” in terms of infrastructure. The access and innovation inspired by the web helps us meet the challenges of the 21st century as we contribute to local economies and help America compete globally.
It hasn’t always been so. Traditionally, the media landscape relied heavily on hierarchical chains of ownership and distribution, controlled by powerful gatekeepers such as large TV and movie studios, commercial radio conglomerates, major labels and so forth.
It would be tremendously disadvantageous to creative entrepreneurship if the internet were to become an environment in which innovation and creativity face tremendous barriers to entry due to business arrangements between a select few industry players.
This is why we support clear, enforceable and transparent rules to ensure that competition and free expression can continue to flourish online. Although many of us feel strongly that the recent FCC Order does not go far enough in its protections (particularly with regard to mobile broadband access), we recognize the importance of having a process in place by which concerns can be addressed and transparency pursued.
We believe that Congress has a role to play in establishing guidelines that preserve a competitive, accessible internet where free expression and entrepreneurship can continue to flourish. We also believe that stripping the FCC’s ability to enforce these core principles as proposed in S.J. Res. 6 runs counter the values shared by members on both sides of the aisle, as well as prior and current FCC leadership. Therefore, we strongly urge against a broad repudiation of the Commission’s Order.
Future of Music Coalition
National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture
This case is based on televised expletives aired on the 2002 and 2003 Billboard Music Awards broadcasts. Originally, thedetermined that the utterances, whether intentional or not, were indecent after a slew of complaints were sent to the commission. During such an evaluation, the queries whether the utterances “depict[ed] sexual or excretory organs or activities.” Fox appealed the ruling, and the Supreme Court held that the ’s ruling should stand because it was not “arbitrary and capricious” (in non-legalese that just means the didn’t act crazy). When the Supreme Court sent the ruling back down to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, those New York-based justices declared the indecency policy so vague that it unconstitutionally restrained speech. On its second trip up to the highest of high courts, we should get a final answer as to whether the ’s indecency policy will stand.
Like WWII documentary “The War” was aired in to satisfy affiliates worried about possible sanctions. Creators are left guessing what constitutes indecent material, which leads to self-censoring and ultimately deprives the public (and artists) of access to a variety of worthwhile content.’s previous amicus briefs from July 2008 and September 2009, this filing demonstrates the “vague and arbitrary” nature of the ’s current indecency policy. The result of this policy has been a chilling effect on creativity on the public airwaves, due to broadcasters’ fears of getting fined for airing “offensive” content. For example, Ken Burns’
Comments advise FCC on implementation in its Low Power FM rulemaking
MM Docket No. 99-25
MB Docket No. 07-172
On September 6, 2011, Future of Music Coalition, Prometheus Radio Project and the United Church of Christ Office of Communications offered the following comments (PDF) to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on the implementation of rules to provide expanded Low Power FM (LPFM) service to more American towns and cities.
Band tells Congress: support public radio
On August 10, 2011, the New Orleans-based brass-funk-rock band Bonerama sent a letter to the members of the Louisiana Congressional Delegation in support of National Public Radio and their local affiliate, WWOZ. Public radio’s support over the years has been instrumental in the band’s success, just as it has for many developing artists across the country. Download a PDF of the letter below.
Members of the Louisiana Congressional Delegation,
We, the members of Bonerama, are writing in support of National Public Radio and non-commercial radio. National Public Radio is a principal vehicle for fostering the growth of local music communities and helps to maintain the vitality of American Arts and Culture. NPR has been instrumental in delivering the unique sounds of our hometown of New Orleans to music enthusiasts across the country year-round. Without this kind of exposure, the musicians of Louisiana would not be able to expand their networks and grow their brands and businesses.
Bonerama is a trombone jazz funk and rock band that formed in New Orleans in 1998. The individual members of the band originate form all across the country, but were drawn together by the spirit and soul of New Orleans. The band gained a regional audience through its residency at Tipitina’s in the French Quarter. This original gig allowed Bonerama to begin to tour and eventually release three live albums. In 2008, the band teamed up with indie pop stars OK Go for the EP You’re Not Alone, to raise money for New Orleans musicians displaced by Katrina. Last year, we released our first studio-recorded EP, Hard Times. Hard Times includes a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks,” as well as the song “Lost My House,” which is a true account inspired by the levee failures of 2005. Hard Times received significant local press and was brought to the attention of national audiences through NPR. In April, NPR featured Bonerama on a compilation of bands as a lead up to the 2011 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
The music of Louisiana maintains its vibrant nature due to deep cultural roots and the individual communities that grow from those roots. Public radio in Louisiana is the number one platform for delivering and developing local artists that continue to build upon the history and traditions that precede them. WWOZ, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Station, is a prime example of such a public radio station. Over the last few years, NPR has paired with WWOZ to provide nationwide coverage of the Jazz Festival, and bring the sounds of Louisiana to listeners across the country.
Bonerama is essentially a small business making a living off our local export, Louisiana culture and music. Public radio and NPR has been the largest promotional device for our business and Louisiana music and culture as a whole. If Congress votes to limit federal funding for NPR and non- commercial radio stations, small local stations that are in true need of such funding will have to cut jobs. The ability to program and feature a multitude of rising diverse local artists will be limited and national exposure to Louisiana music and culture will be diminished. As working musicians with close bonds to the community, Bonerama believes that the de-funding of public radio would cause a debilitating blow to both the culture and economy of our great state of Louisiana.
Thank you for your time,
Re: A National Broadband Plan for Our Future, GN Docket No. 09-51
Future of Music Coalition, Public Knowledge and New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative sent a joint letter to Chairman Julius Genachowski of the Federal Communications Commission on July 14, 2011. The letter is a request to investigate the data cap policies of all ISPs, as recent anecdotal evidence suggests inconsistencies in polices around and enforcement of data caps on broadband connections. The signees believe that such data cap policies, when unchecked and inconsistent, run contrary to the values and goals of the National Broadband Plan and its’ support of cloud-based applications and computing.