ArtsWatch: Meet The New Register Of Copyrights

Acting Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante appointed to position permanently

GRAMMY.com
Philip Merrill

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.

On June 1 Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced the appointment of Maria Pallante as the 12th Register of Copyrights and the director of the Copyright Office. Pallante has served as acting Register of Copyrights during the library's search process and succeeds Marybeth Peters, who retired at the end of 2010. "She is a thoughtful civil servant, a proven and effective manager, a leader in the wider copyright community, and a recognized expert in domestic and international copyright law," said Billington. Pallante provided a same-day example of the expertise the register is regularly called on to provide in her testimony before a hearing on illegal Internet streaming held by the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet. Advocating felony prosecution of infringing streams, Pallante said, "Copyright policy is never finished.... By updating the law, Congress ensures the constitutional bargain that promotes the progress of our culture by giving authors the exclusive rights to their works for limited times."

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) swiftly stated his opposition to S. 968, the PROTECT IP Act, after the antipiracy bill was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 26. He said, "Until the many issues that I and others have raised with this legislation are addressed, I will object to a unanimous consent request to proceed to the legislation." Wyden's move means S. 968 needs 60 votes in favor of cloture — essentially, a vote in support of holding a vote — before it can be voted on by the Senate. The Electronic Frontier Foundation explained criticism of the amended bill's right of private action and expressed concern that private litigants would abuse its provisions.

On May 25 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations announced the fifth set of Operation In Our Sites seizures of websites providing infringing content or selling counterfeit merchandise. (ArtsWatch previously covered Operation In Our Sites 1, 2, 3, and 4.) ICE Director John Morton said, "The Operation In Our Sites initiative will continue through 2011 and beyond. Our efforts through this operation successfully disrupt the ability of criminals to purvey counterfeit goods and copyrighted materials illegally over the Internet." Among its other features, the initiative illustrates that the domain names of rogue websites can be seized by court order under existing law, without new legislation.

Researchers at the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy on May 22–25 presented an intensive study of spam-email data concluding that "financial blacklisting" of payment processors could be more effective than blacklisting domain names. The paper's conclusion read, "We have used this data...to offer evidence that the payment tier is by far the most concentrated and valuable asset in the spam ecosystem, and one for which there may be a truly effective intervention through public policy action in Western countries." The study is especially timely because a noteworthy provision of S. 968, the PROTECT IP Act, enables content owners and law enforcement to prevent third-party services from providing revenue to infringing websites.

On May 26 the Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus released its 2011 International Piracy Watch List, calling attention to countries such as Canada, China, Russia, and Spain that inadequately protect intellectual property. The IAPC is co-chaired by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). This year's list was welcomed by IP supporters IIPA, MPAA, NMPA, and RIAA, among others, as was its emphasis on the well-known companies currently paying to advertise on infringing websites. RIAA Chairman/CEO Mitch Bainwol said, "A review of the most frequently visited websites — including those specializing in pre-release songs that are not yet even available in the legitimate marketplace — feature banner ads for some of America's best-known companies. We don't believe the good corporate citizens featured on these sites are aware that their ad buys are funding criminal enterprises."

Gov. Bill Haslam (R-Tenn.) signed a new provision against password sharing into state law on May 30, updating an existing statute against theft of services to include "entertainment subscription services." The law's intent is not directed against family members living under the same roof but rather provides a new enforcement tool that can be directed against hackers who sell stolen login information or against registered users who violate terms of service agreements by widely distributing their usernames and passwords.

On May 24 the European Commission made a set of related announcements regarding its intellectual property rights strategy (FAQ), including promoting a single market for IPR and proposing new rules for European orphan works that are expected to lead to a "generally accessible record of all recognized orphan works" valid across the European Union. Other projected policy actions include a proposed new legal framework for multiterritorial music licensing later this year, a public consultation about online distribution of audiovisual works expected in October, and long-term consideration of whether establishing a "European Copyright Code" will be feasible. IMPALA Independent Music Companies Association said, "IMPALA welcomes the move by the EC to prioritize the protection and promotion of copyright and other intellectual property rights.... We believe there is a long road ahead but this is a good start to making Europe a better place for music."