Copyright

Blindsided in Marrakesh

Hadn’t yet seen this when I was writing the previous post (h/t reader JB) but it certainly speaks to why the MPAA might be looking to bolster its connections with U.S. trade authorities and the Obama Administration. The studio group had worked hard to limit the scope of the WIPO treaty on copyright exceptions for works for the blind, pressing U.S. negotiators to keep references to “fair use” out of treaty. Yet no sooner had negotiators concluded a deal that included that language anyway,then the U.S. State Department put out a statement endorsing the treaty and vowing to move swiftly for its ratification: Read More »

Copyright owners call in reinforcements

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With the debate over copyright reform heating up both in the U.S. and abroad, copyright owners have been filling out their lobbying ranks. On Tuesday (7/16) the Motion Picture Assn. of America named former Democratic House staffer Shanna Winters to the new post of senior VP of global policy and external affairs, reporting to Michael O’Leary, senior executive VP of global policy. Winters spent eight years on the Hill, most recently as the Democratic Chief Counsel for the Foreign Relations Committee. Before that she was staff director for the House Judiciary Subcommittee for Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property.

The MPAA has its hands full internationally these days, where it’s trying to hold the line against a global push to carve out greater exemptions to copyright, but has suffered some significant setbacks of late. Winters contacts at both the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs committee should come in handy as copyright reform has become a flashpoint in a growing number of trade negotiations.

Also on Tuesday, NBC Universal named former White House deputy counsel and deputy assistant to President Obama, Kimberley Harris, as its new executive VP and general counsel, where she will be responsible for coordinating NBC-U’s global regulatory and legislative agenda. Former general counsel Rick Cotton, who announced plans to step down in May, will become senior counselor to NBC-U on IP protection.

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Harris

Given recent strains in Hollywood’s relations with the Obama Administration, including the MPAA’s needless dis of White House Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordination Victoria Espinel this week when it dismissed the new “best-practices” program adopted by online ad exchanges for combating online piracy as “not sufficient.” Espinel’s office helped coordinate the drafting of the program, which was announced on the White House web site.

Ironically, Espinel owes her job to Harris’ predecessor, Cotton, who spearheaded industry lobbying for the Pro-IP Act that created the office of IPEC in 2008. Presumably, Harris’ contacts in the West Wing will help smooth whatever feathers were ruffled there this week by the MPAA
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Slippery SOPA

Copyright Critics of the failed Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act (SOPA/PIPA) have been having some fun with some internal RIAA and IFPI materials regarding the music industry’s anti-piracy efforts that leaked to TorrentFreak last week. Part of the cache includes a PowerPoint presentation delivered by RIAA deputy general counsel Victoria Sheckler to IFPI members back in April (pdf).

The critics are taking particular delight in Sheckler’s acknowledgment that the laws were “not likely to have been effective tool[s] for music.” Here’s the PPT slide summarizing the SOPA/PIPA debate:

While perhaps a bit embarrassing for the RIAA, I don’t find the revelation terribly surprising. The bills weren’t really crafted with music in mind; most of the online piracy the music industry is concerned about occurs over peer-to-peer networks, which were not the targets of the bills.

Rather, the bills were crafted by the MPAA, as a tool against movie piracy. Though P2P networks are responsible for a certain amount of movie piracy, more of it these days involves digital locker services, mostly based outside the U.S., like Megaupload, which were the main targets of SOPA and PIPA. As data contained elsewhere in Sheckler’s presentation show, digital lockers make up only about 6 percent of what the music companies regard as piracy, compared to 23 percent Read More »

Aereo combat: Why the networks should be worried

Copyright There are certainly cheaper markets to operate in than New York City. And if you were preparing to launch a risky media startup, you might be expected to try opening out of town, where the downside would be smaller, before taking your show to Broadway. Not so for Aereo, the Barry Diller-backed startup formerly know as Bamboom, which offers to stream broadcast TV channels to subscribers over the Internet for viewing on connected devices for $12 a month. Subscribers will also be able to record programs as they would with a DVR and store them in the cloud for later viewing.

Perhaps Diller just craved the spotlight, and wanted to launch in center of the media universe. But a more likely reason for picking New York is that it’s the seat of the federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which in 2008 handed down an opinion in Cartoon Network, et. al. v. CSC Holdings, better known as the Cablevision remote-DVR case.  That case, in which the cable operator’s cloud-based DVR service was challenged unsuccessfully by the networks,  is Read More »

Who lost SOPA?

Legislation The blame-storming in Hollywood over the failure of SOPA and the Protect-IP Act has begun. MPAA chief Chris Dodd offers a half-hearted mea culpa in the New York Times, acknowledging a “perception problem” for the industry. But he pins most of the blame on “irresponsible” technology players like Wikipedia, Google and Reddit for stirring up the natives with their blackouts and black propaganda.

More darkly, many in the media industry are blaming President Barack Obama for the loss, accusing him of a stab in the back for siding publicly with Silicon Valley after Hollywood had raised millions for his campaigns. One time SOPA and PIPA supporters in Congress who went wobbly in the face of public pressure are also coming in for scorn.

Most of the problems the media companies have had over SOPA and PIPA, however, have been self-inflicted. Read More »