[opendtv] The Copyright Office Report

  • From: John Willkie <johnwillkie@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 2 Jul 2008 02:56:45 -0400 (EDT)

Well, I've read most of the report (up to page 200).

It was required by the SHVERA in 2004.  It makes several proposals to 
streamline and rationalize the copyright act as pertains to television stations 
carried on satellite and cable, including several alternatives.  But, not 
eliminating the payments, except for local-into-local cable, to be just like 
local-into-local DBS.

It notes the current breadth of the video marketplace, including streaming, 
downloads, iTunes, and network and local station web sites.

In the greenfield, territory, it deals with the Capitol Broadcasting proposal 
for a somewhat restrictive cable-over-internet, and concludes that it isn't 
entitled to cable compulsory license, at least absent legislation.

It draws a distinction between that proposal and walled garden systems like 
Verizon FIOS TV and AT&T U-verse, finding that the others are very analogous to 
cable, and are probably entitled to cable compulsory license.

The SHVERA licenses run out at the end of next year.  Some fun could be had 
with some provisions between Feb 17, 2009 and the end of the year.

However, the whole thing requires Congressional action, and serious work is not 
something that the current congress will ever be known for, and I doubt that 
the next one will be worse, if Empress Pelosi and "Dingy" Harry Reid retain 
their current posts.

Basically, the report advocates eliminating several of the compulsory licenses 
and opening up cable copyright issues to market forces, since the scope and 
character of cable systems have changed radically since 1976.  Indeed, cable is 
now a bigger business than ota tv.

There are several digital wrinkles, but only time will tell if the next 
congress can avoid the dog-and-pony shows that have characterized the current 

The most realistic thing they can do is to phase out cable's exemption from 
copyright licenses, at least for all but the smallest systems.

John Willkie
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