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Hollywood labor unions declare support for online piracy bill

Warning of the perils of "illegal profiteers," Hollywood's labor unions are rallying behind a federal bill aimed at stopping the global spread of online piracy.

Unions representing directors, actors and technical crews WEdnesday strongly voiced support for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and senior Republican member Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who introduced a bill that would give the Justice Department more tools to track and shut down websites devoted to providing access to unauthorized downloads, streaming or sale of copyright content.

"We represent 300,000 creators, film talent and crafts people who create a multitude of diverse films, television programs and sound recordings that are sought by consumers around the world,'' the unions said in a letter to Leahy. "Our content is so sought after, in fact, that Internet profiteers are springing up all over the world -- individuals and businesses solely dedicated to using the Internet to create money-making websites that steal from our members and put the American public at risk."

The unions find themselves in the unusual position of siding with management on the bill. The Motion Picture Assn. of America also is backing the legislation, called the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act. But the measure is facing stiff opposition from a number of consumer and interest groups, such as the Electronic Foundation, which contend that it would curb freedom of speech and is unnecessary.

Evidently, the opposition campaign spurred the unions to issue their letter to Leahy. "We respect the rights of business and interest groups to raise thoughtful questions for open discussion and debate, but we must speak up when such groups organize campaigns dedicated to paralyzing the legislative process with half-truths and absurd misrepresentations of civic rights," they wrote.

-- Richard Verrier

Related posts:

Independent filmmakers feel the squeeze of piracy  

Hollywood studios sound alarm over Internet streaming websites

 
Comments () | Archives (4)

I thought Hollywood was for the little people. Turns out when their interests are threatened Hollywood responds the same way Hollywood portrays other industries in their movies. Forget the financial sector, no industry receives more government protection than the film and music industry.

Unions will support anything that increases the power of the state over the power of the individual. They will push for the collective to strip away individual rights.

What complete and utter FUD. Let's see some proof behind the comment "put the American public at risk". Can they name ONE site that has put the American public at risk?

On top of this, the bill as currently written makes merely linking to an infringing site potential grounds for getting shut down. From the text of the bill: "including the provision of a link or aggregated links to other sites or Internet resources for obtaining such copies"

In other words, if you have non-commercial news site and are reporting on the current trial of The Pirate Bay, including a link in your article is sufficient grounds for getting your site taken down. I'm sure supporters will say that the bill will never get used that way, but if the statute allows it, it WILL get used that way eventually. You also need to keep in mind that Title 17 ALREADY has provisions in it to address forfeiture of assets when commercial infringement is proven in court.

I seems like it's all about money and control and Hollywood wants all of it. I guess that's why I don't go to the movies or buy music anymore. I watch video on Hulu or from my ISP and listen to the CD's I bought years ago.

My company MiMTiD Corp., provides copyright infringement protection services to a diverse group of media companies in the US. Our sister company Blues Destiny Records has sued Google, Bing and Rapidshare in the U.S. for repeated infringement of that company's works. We send out thousands of conforming infringement notices on behalf of our customers to hundreds of infringing companies including Google and Bing. Many of the sites that would be the target of this legislation (e.g. Rapidshare and Hotfile) have only recently began to respond at all to these notices. We surmise that this is a direct result of the recent activities of Congress and the Department of Justice.

Google and most search engines, who largely ignore notices, though their ad syndication networks provide the framework and financing for widespread, commercial infringing activities globally. 60% of the infringing activity noticed on our system is to sites that are ad sharing partners with Google and other search engines. Google and others are systematically monetizing infringed content by efficiently locating the infringed content and steering potential consumers through search results to the location where the infringed content can be obtained. And then monetizing, through advertising, all of the traffic that is generated from this loop of activity. When a notice is sent to Google and Bing to remove an infringing link, they are largely ignored or not processed for weeks or months.

This is due to the confluence three factors:

a. The Construct of the DMCA as it relates to Search Engine Safe Harbor. The term "expeditiously" has no affirmative legal meaning or reliable precedent.

b. The inability of a rights holder to bring an action until receipt of the copyright certificate is in hand under 411a..

c. The two years it takes for the copyright office to process a certificate.

If Congress would focus on better articulating a. b. and c., systemic change would result. The search engines would no longer be able to rely on the ambiguous ruling across the 11th and 5th Circuits related to 411a. With "search engine owned" ad networks being principal conduit of monetization of infringing activity, the result of very minor changes to 411a would afford victims broader access to perfected rights under U.S. Copyright Law. Rights holders would be able to effectively prosecute the search engine's refusal to act expeditiously. And, it is our opinion that a modification of search engine response to infringement notices would result. And ultimately the ability for infringing sites to monetize traffic would diminish.

It is our opinion that the DMCA should work. Congress could more effectively legislate meaningful, less controversial change if it would close the loophole enabling the search engines to ignore notices by addressing the deficiencies of 411a.


§ 411. Registration and civil infringement actions11
(a) Except for an action brought for a violation of the rights of the author under section 106A(a), and subject to the provisions of subsection (b),no civil action for infringement of the copyright in any United States work shall be instituted until preregistration or registration of the copyright claim has been made in accordance with this title. In any case, however, where the deposit, application, and fee required for registration have been delivered to the Copyright Office in proper form and registration has been refused, the applicant is entitled to institute a civil action for infringement if notice thereof, with a copy of the complaint, is served on the Register of Copyrights. The Register may, at his or her option, become a party to the action with respect to the issue of registrability of the copyright claim by entering an appearance within sixty days after such service, but the Register’s failure to become a party shall not deprive the court of jurisdiction to determine that issue.
(b) (b)(1) A certificate of registration satisfies the requirements of this section and section 412, regardless of whether the certificate contains any inaccurate information, unless—
(A) the inaccurate information was included on the application for copyright registration with knowledge that it was inaccurate; and
(B) the inaccuracy of the information, if known, would have caused the Register of Copyrights to refuse registration.


(2) In any case in which inaccurate information described under paragraph (1) is alleged, the court shall request the Register of Copyrights to advise the court whether the inaccurate information, if known, would have caused the Register of Copyrights to refuse registration.

(3) Nothing in this subsection shall affect any rights, obligations, or requirements of a person related to information contained in a registration certificate, except for the institution of and remedies in infringement actions under this section and section 412.
(c) the case of a work consisting of sounds, images, or both, the first fixation of which is made simultaneously with its transmission, the copyright owner may, either before or after such fixation takes place, institute an action for infringement under section 501, fully subject to the remedies provided by sections 502 through 505 and section 510, if, in accordance with requirements that the Register
of Copyrights shall prescribe by regulation, the copyright owner—
(1) serves notice upon the infringer, not less than 48 hours before such fixation,
identifying the work and the specific time and source of its first transmission,
and declaring an intention to secure copyright in the work; and
(2) makes registration for the work, if required by subsection (a), within
three months after its first transmission.


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