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Robin Thicke pushes back against copyright litigation threats.
Members of the band The Turtles, best known for their 1967 song "Happy Together," have filed a class-action lawsuit against SiriusXM, saying that the satellite radio company is violating the rights they have in their sound recordings by playing their music to satellite radio subscribers without permission.
Sound Recording Copyrights are Recent, and More Limited
This might seem to be a strange oversight on the part of SiriusXM, except that normally, radio services don't need to get permission to play music. This is because copyrights for recording artists are a relatively recent phenomenon. In fact, recording artists didn't have *any* copyright rights in their works until 1972. Even after 1972, when Congress decided to expand copyrights to include recorded sound (copyrights in sheet music had been allowed since the 1830s), it did so in a limited manner. Recording artists could prevent others from reproducing, making derivative works of, or distributing copies of their works, but they couldn't stop anyone from publicly performing them.
That included broadcasters, who were free to play records over the air without permission or payment to the people who made the records. Even much later, when Congress decided to expand recording artists' rights to include public performance "by means of a digital audio transmission," it also included a statutory license for that right, meaning that satellite radio and webcasters, who make digital audio transmissions, don't have to get permission from recordings artists—but they do have to pay for the use of their songs. (These statutory licenses in section 114, which are calculated differently depending upon the type of broadcaster, are the source of a lot of the conflict you might be hearing about internet radio rates.)
Making public domain works available in a public domain way respects copyright and spreads culture.
Yesterday's news from the Getty Museum that they were making high-resolution images of 4,600 works in their collection available for free download should be celebrated by anyone who cares about art and culture. And it should also be celebrated by anyone who cares about copyright and the public domain, and who is thinking about what it means to be a modern museum dedicated to bringing people into contact with art.
Let's get the art and culture part out of the way first. One of the great things about museums is that they allow people who are not, say, massively rich oil magnates to access culture. And one of the great things about the internet is that they allow people who are not physically near something to experience it themselves. Combining the two makes all sorts of sense.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has taken the first steps to fully considering how Verizon's Voice Link deployment impacts consumers.
Yesterday evening the FCC notified Verizon that it would not automatically approve Verizon's application to replace its traditional wireline network with a fixed wireless service called Voice Link in Fire Island, NY and Mantoloking, NJ. The FCC also requested more data from Verizon about Voice Link's reliability and quality and the services Voice Link does or does not support.
This still leaves open the question of whether the FCC will ultimately approve or deny Verizon's request to roll out Voice Link instead of copper, but it at least ensures the FCC won't simply let Verizon's application be approved in an absence of mind under a fast-track process that wasn't designed for a situation as novel and complicated as Verizon's post-Superstorm Sandy network changes.
Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted to enact a framework that mandates just and reasonable telephone rates for the friends, family and counsel of inmates in state prisons and detention centers.
Today, the Federal Communications Commission approved a framework that mandates just and reasonable telephone rates for the friends, family and counsel of inmates in state prisons and detention centers. The order provides immediate financial relief to the households of the 2.7 million children with a parent behind bars who struggled with the cost of communicating with them. Public Knowledge commends FCC leadership for its action and congratulates the many advocates both in and outside the beltway for their dedicated efforts.
This long awaited action was facilitated through the outstanding and tireless commitment of FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and staff, the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice as well as a wide coalition of civil rights, public interest and criminal justice reform organizations. Together these efforts ensure that the families and loved ones of inmates are no longer susceptible to the exorbitant rates and egregious fee practices of inmate call service providers. To emphasize, the FCC has done exactly what is in their authority according to the Communications Act, by ensuring that phone rates for a population of Americans remain just and reasonable.
Note: This post was co-written with Rashmi Rangnath, Director of Global Knowledge Initiative, and Staff Attorney
The Administration overturned a decision to ban imports of technology products that infringe patents. This reaffirms the principle that an automatic ban on product importation is not in the public interest.
The public interest has to be a central concern in decisions about technology policy. The Obama Administration, through the United States Trade Representative (USTR), reaffirmed this principle this past Saturday when it overruled a recent International Trade Commission (ITC) decision to ban imports of certain Apple products including the iPhone 4.
The ITC is a specialized court that decides patent infringement cases. If the ITC finds that a product infringes a patent in certain circumstances, then the ITC will, as a matter of course, ban importation of that product. This is exactly what happened as part of the Apple /Samsung litigation: the ITC ordered a ban of the iPhone 4 and other Apple products on the ground that they violated patents owned by Samsung and relating to CDMA encoding and decoding (CDMA is a cell phone network technology used mostly by Verizon and Sprint in the US.)
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