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News Releases

Obama Administration Releases Trade Report On Worst Copyright Offenders

April 30, 2012
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WASHINGTON – The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) today released its “Special 301 Report,” an annual effort designed to highlight the inadequate copyright protection measures of U.S. trade partner nations.

“This report is an essential contribution to the ongoing efforts to better protect the rights of the global creative community,” said Neil Turkewitz, Executive Vice President, International, Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).  “Through its commendable efforts, USTR helps raise awareness about the need for critical reforms that enhance our culture and promote economic development and employment.”

In its report, the USTR identified a variety of legal and enforcement deficiencies by which countries allow illegal services to operate. This has had devastating consequences in countries like Russia and China where services like vKontakte (Russia), Xunlei’s Gougou (China) and Sohu’s Sogou (China) effectively prevent the development of healthy competition in the provision of online music services.

“vKontakte, Gougou and Sogou each operate extremely well-known and popular unlicensed music services that permit their users to access, stream or download millions of illegal titles,” said Turkewitz.  “While they employ different techniques, the result is the same in each case—the stunting of the growth of legitimate online services unable to compete against this form of unfair competition.  Each of these services deliberately gain market share by providing access to copyrighted works without any form of licensing.”

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND PERSPECTIVE ON THE USTR REPORT BELOW:

This has been an interesting year in the evolution of copyright protection, marked by both highs and lows. But there has been one constant even amidst the turmoil and sometimes acrimonious public debates—a steady evolution towards an understanding of the need for greater accountability in the online space, and a greater awareness of the economic and cultural importance of safeguarding the interests of the world's cultural sectors. While there may not yet be a consensus on the best means of achieving greater order in the online marketplace, there is increasingly little doubt that societies around the globe are demanding the application of laws in a technologically neutral manner, and are rejecting the notion that the internet can operate as a law-free zone. That is good news for creators around the world, and for promoting access to culture in ways that sustain cultural production.

The Special 301 Report is an important contributor to this evolution, and we express our great thanks to USTR and all of the agencies involved for their role in raising awareness of the need for critical reforms that enhance the sustainability of cultural production and promote economic development and employment. Thanks in great part to the work of the U.S. government over the past couple of decades, there are fewer and fewer places that are truly hospitable to piracy. This is not to suggest that the problems have been resolved, but it does reflect that for the most part, nations are principally engaged in a discussion about how to address piracy, and not whether they should do so. There is increasingly broad recognition that fueling creativity through the protection of objects of creativity is an essential component of a nation's ability to economically compete in the 21st century, and for sustaining cultural diversity. Even some of the countries that have languished the longest on the Special 301 Priority Watch List have undertaken efforts to improve the situation. China has adopted structural changes to enhance its ability to fight piracy, and has issued draft laws and regulations that will add important new tools to address online theft. Indian courts have protected the Indian market by blocking access to infringing sites, and we are witnessing real growth in the Indian music market. Even Russia has raised the need to address piracy and has floated some ideas about how to enhance the role of service providers in addressing the theft taking place over their platforms. And Canada appears poised, after many years, to finally adopt copyright amendments that will at least partially modernize their legal regime.

Against this backdrop, we do highlight a couple of key aspects of today’s report. China and Russia, notwithstanding the fact that there has been some progress, remain as two of the biggest IPR offenders in the world—places where piracy, and market access barriers in the case of China, thoroughly stunt the development of the music market. We are hopeful that changes to China's legal and regulatory structure will soon be adopted—particularly ensuring liability on the part of actors that induce or promote infringement, thereby preventing the operation of services based on providing access to infringing music like Xunlei’s Gougou and Sohu’s Sogou. But we also call on China to abandon certain market access barriers, including onerous and discriminatory censorship procedures that have no practical effect other than to ensure that Chinese society only has access to infringing content. And similarly in Russia, we highlight the importance of ensuring that proposed changes to the Civil Code provide no safe harbor to services like vKontakte who have been permitted to earn money by providing access to infringing materials for far too long.

We underscore USTR's concerns about lack of progress in Italy, and join their call for Italy to "adopt and implement the AGCOM regulations expeditiously," and to ensure that those regulations "create an effective mechanism against all types of copyright piracy over the Internet.”

Finally, let us comment quickly on two countries that were not placed on any lists in USTR’s Report today—Spain and Switzerland. These are countries on opposite trajectories. The Spanish market has been decimated by piracy over the past decade as the Spanish government bore silent witness to the desecration of its cultural heritage. The Spanish music industry was—or perhaps is—on the precipice of collapse. In one of its first official acts, the Rajoy administration brought into effect new procedures designed to address online piracy, and we salute the Spanish government for this important first step, and encourage them to employ these tools in the most robust fashion. On the other side of the coin is Switzerland which has thus far manifested little understanding of the gravity of the online piracy problem and no urgency in addressing the fact that there are few, if any, existing remedies. Hopefully this is a situation that will quickly be resolved.

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The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade organization that supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies. Its members are the music labels that comprise the most vibrant record industry in the world. RIAA® members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legitimate recorded music produced and sold in the United States.

In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect the intellectual property and First Amendment rights of artists and music labels; conduct consumer, industry and technical research; and monitor and review state and federal laws, regulations and policies. The RIAA® also certifies Gold®, Platinum®, Multi- Platinum™ and Diamond sales awards as well as Los Premios De Oro y Platino™, an award celebrating Latin music sales.

Contact:
Jonathan Lamy
Cara Duckworth
Liz Kennedy
202/775-0101


RIAA Reaction to the Passing of Dick Clark

April 18, 2012
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WASHINGTON – Below is a comment from Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) Chairman and CEO Cary Sherman on the death of Dick Clark:

“We have lost a true American icon, trailblazer and legend in Dick Clark.  More music, over multiple generations of fans, has been brought into hearts, minds and homes than perhaps any other figure in history – including many of our most beloved artists in their very first television appearances, especially on the singular American Bandstand.  It is one thing to champion music and simply change the landscape – it’s quite another thing to do so for more than 60 years.

“He was of course a brilliant businessman.  From the American Music Awards, ‘Rockin New Year’s Eve’ and Top 40 Countdown to Emmy-Award-winning television shows such as Jeopardy and $100,000 Pyramid, he is simply part of the American fabric.  But even more so, his trademark voice, style, passion for music and seemingly eternal youth will forever be part of our consciousness.”

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The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade organization that supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies. Its members are the music labels that comprise the most vibrant record industry in the world. RIAA® members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legitimate recorded music produced and sold in the United States.

In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect the intellectual property and First Amendment rights of artists and music labels; conduct consumer, industry and technical research; and monitor and review state and federal laws, regulations and policies. The RIAA® also certifies Gold®, Platinum®, Multi- Platinum™ and Diamond sales awards as well as Los Premios De Oro y Platino™, an award celebrating Latin music sales.

Contact:
Jonathan Lamy
Cara Duckworth
Liz Kennedy
202/775-0101


Major Music Industry Groups Reach Historic Agreement on Royalty Rates and Standards

April 11, 2012
Agreement Enables New Cutting-Edge Business Models

WASHINGTON – Organizations representing the music publishers and songwriters, major record labels, digital music services and cellular phone companies today announced an agreement setting mechanical royalty rates and standards that supports a slate of new cutting-edge business models to help consumers access and enjoy music.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) and Digital Media Association (DiMA) are filing an industry-wide agreement that fully resolves the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) Rate Proceeding under Section 115 of the Copyright Act.

The settlement provides for the development of new digital music services and business models offering music to consumers by creating new rates and terms under Section 115 for five new categories, which include:
•    Mixed service bundles (for example, a locker service, limited interactive service, downloads or ringtones combined with a non-music product such as a mobile phone, consumer electronics device or Internet service)
•    Paid locker services (subscription-based locker providing on-demand streaming and downloads)
•    Purchased content lockers (a free locker functionally provided to a purchaser of a permanent digital download, ringtone or CD where the music provider and locker have an agreement)
•    “Limited offerings” (subscription-based service offering limited genres of music or specialized playlists)
•    Music bundles (bundling music products such as CDs, ringtones and permanent digital downloads)

The 25-page proposed agreement will be submitted to the CRB by the various parties and resolves the pending mechanical royalty rate proceedings without litigation.  The agreement covers 2013-2017 and must be formally be approved by the CRB.  It establishes a royalty rate category for these new business models and rolls forward, with limited changes, all existing rates and terms for CDs and downloads.    

Lee Knife, Executive Director – DiMA
“From the advent of internet radio services, to online music stores, on-demand streaming and more recently, cloud-based music services, digital media providers thrive on creating new ways for fans to enjoy more music whenever and wherever they want,” said Lee Knife, Executive Director of the Digital Media Association. “Today’s agreement paves the way for our members to continue developing exciting new business models that satisfy consumers, create greater revenue opportunities for music creators and effectively fight piracy, the music industry’s greatest threat.”

David Israelite, President and CEO – NMPA
“Today’s agreement is not only an important show of industry cooperation, but a testament to the value of the creative content being provided to consumers,” said NMPA President and CEO David Israelite.  “This agreement represents the culmination of months of discussions among the music industry, digital service providers and technology companies, and will provide more consumer choice with respect to when and how to access music while ensuring songwriters and music publishers continue to thrive in the digital age.”  

Cary Sherman, Chairman and CEO – RIAA
“This is a historic agreement that reflects our mission to make it easier for digital music services to launch cutting-edge business models and streamline the licensing process,” said Cary Sherman, Chairman and CEO, RIAA.  “This is a major win for consumers, the music community, and entrepreneurs and investors in new music services.  Getting to an agreement was a challenge, and I want to thank Steve Marks, our lead negotiator, for his persistence and creativity in getting a deal done.”

About DiMA
The Digital Media Association (“DiMA”) is the trade association representing the legal and policy interests of the nation’s leading online distributors of digital music, movies and books.  DiMA members are constantly developing new and innovative ways to provide consumers with increased access to legitimate online content, and DiMA helps its members accomplish this objective by representing the industry in a wide variety of legal, political and regulatory matters.

About the NMPA
Celebrating its 95th year, the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) is the trade association representing American music publishers and their songwriting partners. The NMPA’s mandate is to protect and advance the interests of music publishers and songwriters in matters relating to the domestic and global protection of music copyrights.

About the RIAA  
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade organization that supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies. Its members are the music labels that comprise the most vibrant record industry in the world. RIAA® members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legitimate recorded music produced and sold in the United States.

Media Contacts:
NMPA/ Amy Lee – 202-280-8816
RIAA / Jonathan Lamy – 202-775-0101
DiMA / Ann Brown – 301-633-4193

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The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade organization that supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies. Its members are the music labels that comprise the most vibrant record industry in the world. RIAA® members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legitimate recorded music produced and sold in the United States.

In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect the intellectual property and First Amendment rights of artists and music labels; conduct consumer, industry and technical research; and monitor and review state and federal laws, regulations and policies. The RIAA® also certifies Gold®, Platinum®, Multi- Platinum™ and Diamond sales awards as well as Los Premios De Oro y Platino™, an award celebrating Latin music sales.

Contact:
Jonathan Lamy
Cara Duckworth
Liz Kennedy
202/775-0101


Center For Copyright Information Announces Three Major Steps Towards Implementation

April 02, 2012
CCI Announces Jill Lesser as Executive Director, Key Consumer Advocates to join Advisory Board and the American Arbitration Association to Oversee the Independent Consumer Review Process

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As a part of its continued effort to ensure consumer protection, the Center for Copyright Information (“CCI”) today announced the appointment of longtime technology, consumer protection and copyright expert, Jill Lesser, as its Executive Director. In addition the group announced the members of its consumer-focused Advisory Board and an agreement with the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) to implement an independent review process for consumers.

CCI was formed in September 2011 as part of a collaborative effort between U.S. content creators in the movie and music industries and leading Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to develop a ground breaking Copyright Alert System (“CAS”) and educational framework intended to inform the public about and deter copyright infringement through direct communication with consumers. Lesser will help lead the group in its work with the partner ISPs and content owners to implement the CAS, which is focused on the inadvertent or purposeful unauthorized distribution of copyrighted content through peer-to-peer networks.

“Jill has spent her career solving complex problems at the intersection of technology, copyright and consumer rights,” said Thomas Dailey, Chairman of the Executive Board of the CCI and Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of Verizon Communications, Inc. “CCI’s mission is to implement the most thoughtful and consumer friendly system to-date for promoting the lawful enjoyment of copyrighted material. Jill’s ability to find solutions that work for content creators, ISPs and their customers will be critical to this task.”

Lesser’s background includes serving as the Deputy Director of Public Policy and Director of the Civic Media Project at People for the American Way (“PFAW”) and as Senior Vice President for Domestic Public Policy for AOL Time Warner, Inc. She is also a Board Member of the Center for Democracy and Technology.

“I am excited to lead CCI as it begins this constructive effort to reduce and deter online copyright infringement in a way that is centered on education and deterrence, not punishment,” said Lesser. “This unprecedented collaboration demonstrates that when content providers and distributors work together we can protect copyright and empower consumers at the same time.”

CCI also announced the formation and membership of its Advisory Board, which will include Jerry Berman, the chairman of the Internet Education Foundation and founder of the Center for Democracy and Technology; Marsali Hancock, the president of iKeepSafe.org; Jules Polenetsky, the current director and co-chair of the Future of Privacy Forum; and Gigi Sohn, internationally known communications attorney, and president and CEO of Public Knowledge. Pursuant to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the Advisory Board will actively consult on issues the Executive Board is considering with regards to the design and implementation of the CAS, as well as CCI’s educational framework.

 

In addition to these appointments, CCI announced the retention of the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”), a global leader in conflict management. AAA will be the independent entity that manages the program’s independent review process, including the training of neutral reviewers for situations where a subscriber has received multiple alerts but believes a mitigation measure should not be imposed.

 

In addition to Chairman Dailey, Executive Board members of CCI include Vice Chairman Steven M. Marks, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Recording Industry Association of America; Marianne Grant, Senior Vice President, Motion Picture Association of America; Alan Lewine, Senior Counsel, Comcast; Daniel Mandil, Associate General Counsel, Viacom; and Brent Olson, Vice President of Public Policy, AT&T.

 

For more information about CCI, please visit: www.copyrightinformation.org.

 

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CONTACT:  Caroline Langdale
(202) 202.337.0808
clangdale@gpgdc.com

 

About CCI
The Center for Copyright Information (“CCI”), an organization formed by a coalition representing U.S. content creators and leading ISPs, is dedicated to implementing an unprecedented and cooperative effort, the Copyright Alert System (“CAS”), to deter online copyright infringement through a series of educational notices to consumers. CCI’s mission includes educating consumers about the importance of respecting copyright in the digital environment, while also respecting the critical interests of Internet users, including privacy and freedom of speech. Members companies and associates include Motion Picture Association of American and MPAA members, Recording Industry Association of America and RIAA members, AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon.

About the American Arbitration Association
The global leader in conflict management since 1926, the American Arbitration Association is a not-for-profit, public service organization committed to the resolution of disputes through the use of arbitration, mediation, conciliation, negotiation, democratic elections and other voluntary procedures. In 2010, 143,349 cases were filed with the Association in a full range of matters including commercial, construction, labor, employment, insurance, international and claims program disputes. Through 30 offices in the United States, Mexico, and Singapore, the AAA provides a forum for the hearing of disputes, rules and procedures and a roster of impartial experts to resolve cases. Find more information online at www.adr.org.

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The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade organization that supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies. Its members are the music labels that comprise the most vibrant record industry in the world. RIAA® members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legitimate recorded music produced and sold in the United States.

In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect the intellectual property and First Amendment rights of artists and music labels; conduct consumer, industry and technical research; and monitor and review state and federal laws, regulations and policies. The RIAA® also certifies Gold®, Platinum®, Multi- Platinum™ and Diamond sales awards as well as Los Premios De Oro y Platino™, an award celebrating Latin music sales.

Contact:
Jonathan Lamy
Cara Duckworth
Liz Kennedy
202/775-0101