ArtsWatch: A Holiday Gift For Indie Labels?

House bill seeks U.S. assistance for international music trade

GRAMMY.com
Philip Merrill

In recent news ...

MUSIC Act Proposes Million-Dollar Annual Subsidy For Indie Exports
On Dec. 12 Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) introduced H.R. 6652, the Making United States Independents Competitive Act, authorizing the Secretary of Commerce to disburse $1 million per year to assist indie music labels and their artists to attend international music trade shows. The MUSIC Act states, "Such assistance shall include admission costs to such music trade shows and support for travel, booth construction, and touring expenses related to such music trade shows." The United States and Mexico are the only exceptions to this common international practice, supporting national jobs and boosting foreign exports. The American Association of Independent Music and The Recording Academy applauded Nadler's bill, calling attention to the financial support that enabled their historic Trade Mission to Asia in September. The Academy's Chief Advocacy & Industry Relations Officer Daryl P. Friedman said in a statement, "This bill would provide much needed support for our members' efforts to promote their music overseas. We are grateful to Rep. Nadler, and we are happy to continue our partnership with A2IM to help increase opportunities for independent artists, as many of The Recording Academy's members are artists on independent labels or artists running indie labels of their own." The MUSIC Act was referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Just In Time For The Holidays — Limits On TV Ad Volume Take Effect
Proving that legislation can make good things happen, Federal Communications Commission rules implementing the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act took effect on Dec. 13. As the FCC guide explains, "The FCC's rules require television commercial advertisements to have the same average volume as the programs that they accompany." This has been one of the FCC's most common consumer complaints, causing Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) to introduce the CALM Act, mandating adoption of an advertisement volume standard issued by the Advanced Television Systems Committee. It successfully passed Congress and was signed into law in late 2010. Now, the burden falls on audiences to monitor and complain about violations of the act (procedures are outlined in the FCC guide). The catch is the phrase "average volume," so consumers must be on alert for TV ads that exploit silence or whispering in order to sneak in obnoxiously loud moments.

More Holiday Cheer As The List Of The World's Notorious Markets Churns
On Dec. 13 U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk released the third Special 301 Out-Of-Cycle Review Of Notorious Markets, spotlighting the worst rogue websites and physical counterfeiting markets. Although the presence of some offenders is long-standing — for example, the Pirate Bay and Isohunt — and illustrates the frustration inherent in the antipiracy fight, eight markets that appeared on last year's list have been removed either because of compliance efforts or successful enforcement actions. "I applaud the actions that some markets have taken to begin ridding their virtual and physical marketplaces of pirated and counterfeit goods, as well as enforcement actions taken by certain governments that have resulted in the shutdown of several other markets," said Kirk. Last year's most noteworthy removal was China's Baidu. This year's gallery of reformed rogues includes China's Sogou and Taobao. Such substantial progress is even more meaningful for being hard-won and should dismay nay-sayers who insist the struggle to protect intellectual property is hopeless.

Google's Transparent Takedowns Grow 1,000 Percent
Google Legal Director Fred Von Lohmann blogged on Dec. 11 that the copyright infringement takedown section of the search giant's Transparency Report will provide more granular data. "By making our copyright data available in detail, we hope policymakers will be able to see whether or not laws are serving their intended purpose and being enforced in the public interest," Von Lohmann wrote. Most notably, when the Transparency Report launched its public takedowns in May, Google was processing 250,000 notices per week. Making Santa's little helpers look like slackers, this has swelled to a staggering 2.5 million requests per week just six months later, driven by a more streamlined notification process and improvements in the creative community's piracy detection tools. MPAA spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield said, "This data only further confirms the important role that Google has to play in helping curb the theft of creative works while protecting an Internet that works for everyone."

The Recording Academy actively represents the music community on such issues as intellectual property rights, music piracy, archiving and preservation, and censorship concerns. In pursuing its commitment to addressing these and other issues, The Recording Academy undertakes a variety of national initiatives. ArtsWatch is a key part of an agenda aimed at raising public awareness of and support for the rights of artists. To become more involved, visit Advocacy Action @ GRAMMY.com and sign up for Advocacy Action E-lerts.

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