TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: House Panel OKs Digital Licensing Bill

House Panel OKs Digital Licensing Bill

Monty Solomon (
Fri, 9 Jun 2006 00:00:17 -0400

By Anne Broache
Staff Writer, CNET

A U.S. House of Representatives panel on Thursday approved a digital
copyright bill that critics say could imperil home-use copying of
music and video recording devices like TiVo.

The Section 115 Reform Act, or SIRA, introduced by Texas Republican
Lamar Smith, attempts to overhaul a piece of copyright law that
established a complex system of "mechanical royalties" for record
companies, recording artists, songwriters and publishers in exchange
for the right to reproduce and distribute their music.

There's a general consensus among politicians, the U.S. Copyright
Office and the music industry that the law, first written in the era
of piano music rolls, is in need of updates for a digital era. Right
now, companies wishing to sell music have to negotiate separate
licenses for each song's recording.

SIRA proposes establishing a "blanket licensing" system in which those
entities would apply for and receive licenses through a one-stop
shop. Established by the Copyright Office, that body would act as a
representative for music publishing companies with the greatest share
of the market.

Supporters of the bill argue that such an approach would make it
easier for online music services to secure speedier approval for vast
libraries of music, opening up the possibility for new market
entrants, greater selection and lower prices.

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