Posted in News by A2IM
There was an unfortunate turn of events for American independent labels and artists this past weekend when the Obama Administration announced they will not support the proposed PROTECT IP (Senate) and SOPA (House of Representatives) bills to reduce piracy related to overseas websites “dedicated to infringing on copyrighted material”. While this is a setback for those of us who know that mass distribution of unlicensed music is crushing our ability to make a fair living from our investment in the creation of great music, A2IM does take some optimism from the fact that the White House statement said “Let us be clear online piracy is a real problem that harms the American economy, threatens jobs for significant numbers of middle class workers and hurts some of our nation’s most creative and innovative companies and entrepreneurs.” The Obama administration still called for legislation this year that would give prosecutors and owners of intellectual property new abilities to deter overseas piracy.
Our view is we need help to reduce unlicensed music copyright access, especially that which occurs from overseas sources where we cannot get voluntary measures and best practices enacted like the “Copyright Alerts” program which the major ISP’s have embraced here in the U.S. or finger-printing and content ID blocking measures that good digital partners are starting to include as standard for their platforms. As our A2IM Billboard Op-ed had noted:
“If there are ways to strengthen these bills and ensure they are narrowly focused to target rogue sites, we are for that. No legislation is perfect, and improvements should be made where appropriate. But let’s have a debate that genuinely acknowledges that the voices within our entertainment family are deep, broad and diverse. And let’s all agree that doing nothing is not an option any Intellectual Property creators can live with.”
Our comments all along have been in support of the proposed legislation highlighting our unique community, separate from that of the mainstream music industry, tailored toward our community’s needs as small and medium sized independent businesses that invest in the creation of music. OUR KEY TALKING POINTS:
* The independent music community is impacted by the effect of illegal downloading, even more so in many cases than major music labels or movie studios because margins are so thin for independent labels — because we are not part of larger corporations which might be able to offset losses during leaner years, making a living becomes that much more difficult.
* Independent music labels embrace the Internet as the Internet has been the great equalizer… on the ability to market, promote, monetize and introduce new music. The Internet has opened up countless opportunities for us. Why would we do anything to jeopardize that? A2IM, on behalf of our member community has spent a great deal of time speaking with, hearing from, and reading testimony from legal experts, constitutional experts and technological experts that refute the mis-information campaign that has so many concerned that these bills would suppress free speech, legal innovation or the security of the Internet.
* The time and capital investment required for our community of like-minded, but proudly independent, small business people to monitor the web for infringement and take subsequent legal action simply does not exist. A2IM member music labels simply do not have the financial means or resources to house a stable of systems people and lawyers to monitor the Internet and bombard sites with DMCA takedown notices for seemingly endless illegal links to our music (especially when even successfully removing illegal links is temporary at best as almost all reappear often within seconds). We do not have the financial means to bankroll field offices in far-flung countries abroad with weak copyright laws. Our members have limited budgets, and whatever living they can eke out is often promptly reinvested back into finding the next new artist or the marketing campaign of an artist already on their roster.
As was noted by the MPAA “our industry not only fully supports free expression, our livelihood is built upon a vibrant First Amendment – it is the foundation of our industry and we would never support any legislation that would limit this fundamental American right. As had been made clear throughout the legislative consideration of SOPA and the PROTECT-IP Act, neither of these bills implicate free expression but focus solely on illegal conduct, which is not free speech. We agree with Secretary Clinton’s recent statement that “There is no contradiction between intellectual property rights protection and enforcement and ensuring freedom of expression on the Internet.” We also share the Administration’s desire to encourage innovation. The American businesses that are victimized on a daily basis by global Internet thieves are among the most innovative industries in this nation and we welcome the Administration’s support of these American businesses. Every day, American jobs are threatened by thieves from foreign-based rogue websites. This deplorable situation persists because U.S. law enforcement does not have the tools to fight back”
We welcome member comments on this issue.