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June 9, 2006
Fair License or Fair-Use Threat?
Depends on whom you ask, of course. SIRA, a House effort to reform copyright licensing, is drawing the ire of a lot of folk, ranging from the EFF and consumer-advocacy groups to commercial vendors such as BellSouth. On the other side, entities such as the RIAA and music publishers want changes to an old approach that requires separate licensing for song recordings. Their goal is a "blanket license" that they claim is required to speed up copyright approvals for large amounts of music at once.
That seems like a laudable goal - nobody is claiming that the US system of managing copyrights is simple. The problem is in what each side wants to consider a "performance" and what is a "recording." And which category do transient copies (such as caches) fall into? The bill's opponents claim that the current language will put digital recordings into BOTH categories, forcing double license payments.
Although the bill has been okayed by a House panel there's still a long road ahead and I expect to see more on this topic before Congress recesses this session.
And of course there's the pernicious notion that people would be required to pay (usually by increased prices at retail) for time-shifted viewings, PVR recordings, and other personal-use copying that is currently allowed under fair use exemptions.
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