Friday, September 22, 2006

S1RA is Back; Call to Action

Copyright Law just keeps getting better and better. I just wanted to bring this your attention.

In June we brought attention to S1RA (The Section 115 Reform Act), which has the laudable goal of bringing mechanical licensing into the 21st Century. However, buried deep within the legislation was a provision that required all incidental copies of a song to have their own separate license. In other words, a copyright holder could charge you for every copy that exists in a caching server, your ISP's own cache, or even the buffer on your computer. It's double dipping, redefining fair use, and now it's back and worse than ever. S1RA lives on under the title of the Copyright Modernization Act of 2006. Sounds ominous enough. It still includes all the terrible provisions of S1RA by taking aim at Internet radio and satellite radio by gutting the Audio Home Recording Act, which explicitly allows devices to time-shift radio.

CMA is trying to elbow itself into law by wrapping itself in a good bill: the Orphan Works Act of 2006. This bill is an important piece of legislation that removes significant hurdles that artists have to jump to create their art. Right now, with our over-reaching copyright regime, if a documentary film makers wants to include an image, film clip, or song in their work, but no copyright holder can be found, the film maker is out of luck. OWA allows the artist to include the work, assuming they employed due diligence to track down the copyright holder, and would severely limit any damages stemming from an infringement suit if the owner suddenly reappeared.

However good the Orphan Works Act is, S1RA is worse and negates the benefits that come from OWA. We cannot sacrifice our technological future by imposing an innovation tax on internet and satellite radio."


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