Business Matters: SOPA Delayed, Not Dead, After House Judiciary Committee Session Ends
Business Matters: SOPA Delayed, Not Dead, After House Judiciary Committee Session Ends

As soon as news hit yesterday that the PROTECT IP bill, legislation aimed at shutting down rogue websites, was introduced into the House of Representatives, our inboxes began filling up with statements and commentary from all corners of the music business - many positive, some decidedly not so. Here's a selection of statements we've gotten -- and the MusicTechPolicy blog posted a couple of articles on the matter today, one by author and former Billboard editor Rob Levine (" If Not PROTECT IP, Then What, When and How?") and one by music producer Luke Ebbin (" The Role of the Record Producer and Why We Need the PROTECT IP Act"). Make your voice heard and sound off in the comments area below.

Recording Academy:

"Music creators see introduction of the Stop Online Piracy Act as welcome news. At a time of high unemployment and slow economic growth, the IP sector should be a driving force for economic recovery. But to fulfill its potential, creators of IP must be protected from foreign companies that seek to rob America's creative community through rogue websites. The Recording Academy thanks Representatives Lamar Smith, John Conyers, Bob Goodlatte, and Howard Berman for sponsoring this important legislation." -- Neil Portnow, President/CEO, The Recording Academy

A2IM:
A2IM Applauds the U.S. House of Representatives House Proposed "Stop Online Piracy Act" Legislation

The American Association of Independent Music (A2IM; www.a2im.org), as the not-for-profit trade organization that represents a broad coalition of independent music labels, comprising more than 30 percent of the music industry's U.S. recorded music sales market, almost 40 percent of digital sales and well over 80 percent of all U.S. music label releases, applauds our bi-partisan supporters in the U.S, House Of Representatives for today introducing the proposed "Stop Online Piracy Act" legislation.

A2IM's music label community includes small and medium-sized music enterprises (SMEs) of all types throughout the United States, from Hawaii to Florida, representing musical genres as diverse as our membership. All of our label members have one thing in common; they are small business people with a love for music who are trying to make a living.

This year, independently-owned music labels won over half of the 109 GRAMMYs awarded, but economic reward has not always followed critical success. A2IM members share the core conviction that the independent music community plays a vital role in the continued advancement of cultural diversity and innovation in music both at home and abroad, but we need the assistance of the U.S. government in Intellectual Property anti-piracy enforcement.

While piracy and the resulting music slump is a worldwide problem, the U.S. is particularly hard hit and needs support as we're losing our place in the world music market. Per the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI, www.ifpi.org) in 2005, the U.S.'s share of the international music market was 34 percent. For 2010 the IFPI reported the U.S. as having 26 percent of world market share. As America's manufacturing and service sectors continue to shift abroad, Intellectual Property is one of the few potential growth areas for our economy via exports and we, as music creators, small businessmen, and investors in music creation from across the country, need our government's support for a cooperative effort to restore American global competitiveness in the music business.

The Internet represents a platform for entrepreneurship and expression, but at the same time, it also has produced tremendous financial difficulty for those in the creative community who earn their living from their copyrights, including recording artists, music labels, songwriters, publishers, and those who distribute, market, and provide support to our community. Some of our greatest opponents are search engines linking to sites that allow access to unlicensed music, as is done by services like Google to offshore sites like RapidShare in Germany or MegaUpload in the Ukraine (selling their Google ads along the way), with no piracy search engine linking liability. We need our legislators to focus on limiting access to these websites that encourage illegal activity.

A2IM member music labels as SMEs simply do not have the financial means or resources to engage in widespread copyright enforcement on the Internet, either domestically or abroad. 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. It will be tremendously beneficial for those whose livelihood depends on the ability to exploit copyrights in a free market to have a government partner helping advance a worldwide enforceable regime for the protection of Intellectual Property online.

As music creators and investors in the music creation and promotion of our artists, we applaud our bi-partisan legislative supporters and support their proposed actions.

Electronic Frontier Foundation:

Disastrous IP Legislation Is Back - And It's Worse than Ever

U.S. Chamber of Commerce:
U.S. Chamber Praises House Legislation to Protect Jobs and Sever Rogue Websites from the American Marketplace

WASHINGTON, D.C. - In response to calls from a coalition of over 380 businesses, trade associations, and professional groups from nearly every sector of the economy in all 50 states for enhanced enforcement against rogue sites, the House of Representative today introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce applauds the introduction of Stop Online Piracy Act that will provide U.S. law enforcement with refined legal tools to act against "rogue sites," which steal American jobs, threaten consumer health and safety, and weaken the online commerce ecosystem.

"Websites that blatantly steal the creativity and innovation of American industries violate a fundamental right to property," said Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber. "Operators of rogue sites threaten American jobs, endanger consumer safety, and undermine the vitality of the online marketplace. I commend Representatives Smith, Goodlatte, Conyers, and Berman for standing up to the mass theft of American intellectual property." The bipartisan House proposal is also co-sponsored by eight other Representatives.

The Stop Online Piracy Act will disconnect websites dedicated to online piracy and counterfeiting from the U.S. marketplace. This legislation will provide U.S. law enforcement with refined legal tools to act against "rogue sites," which steal American jobs, threaten consumer health and safety, and weaken the online commerce ecosystem.

Rogue sites attract 53 billion visits per year, jeopardizing the more than $7.7 trillion of U.S. GDP and 60% of exports that the industries they steal from produce for our economy. The sweeping alliance of business and labor leaders, which represent nearly every sector of the 19 million Americans employed in IP-dependent industries, have all called for enhanced enforcement against rogue sites.

"We cannot turn a blind eye to those who take advantage of U.S. innovators and chip away at the American workforce," Donohue added. "While rogue sites pose a unique set of challenges, legislation like the Stop Online Piracy Act introduced today offer clear, tailored enforcement tools to effectively root them out. The U.S. Chamber looks forward to working with the broad coalition of businesses of every size and shape, and organized labor to support Members of the House and Senate and ensure that rogue sites legislation is enacted this year."

The Chamber's Global Intellectual Property Center is working around the world to champion intellectual property (IP) rights as vital to creating jobs, saving lives, advancing global economic growth, and generating breakthrough solutions to global challenges.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.

Digital Media Association:
DiMA Disappointed by IP Enforcement Bill: "Boon for Attorneys; Bust for Legitimate Online Innovators"

(Washington, DC - October 26, 2011) Gregory Alan Barnes, Director of Government Affairs for the Digital Media Association, issued the following statement today in response to the introduction of H.R. 3261, the "Stop Online Piracy" Act, which is intended to help curtail online infringement:

"Today's introduction of the Stop Online Piracy Act offers very little to legitimate online distributors of music, movies and books; and even less to consumers who are looking to gain access to such materials in a legal manner. Numerous studies repeatedly indicate that the best way to prevent online infringement from occurring is through the development of a robust system of licensing that responds to consumer demand. Yet, instead of adopting such an approach, the Stop Online Piracy Act champions the implementation of a convoluted system of enforcement procedures replete with countless new vague terms. For trial attorneys interested in increasing their billable hours, the introduction of the Stop Online Piracy Act represents a major victory. For legitimate online distributors and the average consumer, however, the bill is reminiscent of a B-rated movie - clichéd script and all."

National Music Publishers' Association:
House Legislation On Rogue Sites Welcomed By Songwriting And Music Publishing Industry

WASHINGTON- A bill introduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives would combat online piracy with new enforcement tools and help boost America's music industry, the National Music Publishers' Association said today.

"The Internet is an important tool which has opened opportunities for our industry from distribution to marketing to connecting with fans, but there is a segment of web operators who are criminals, pure and simple, and we must do more to stop them," said NMPA President and CEO David Israelite. "Current laws tie the hands of both law enforcement and judicial personnel in many instances, to the detriment of American business and consumers. Legislation introduced today in the U.S. House would help fix that, enabling our justice system to go after criminal operatives. The music publishing and songwriting communities support these efforts and urge the entire House to move this important bill forward soon."

The bill, H.R. 3261 The Stop Online Piracy Act, was introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) and multiple cosponsors. It would "promote prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation by combating the theft of U.S. property".

Copyright Alliance:
Copyright Alliance Cheers U.S. House Proposal To Curb Digital Theft Of U.S. Intellectual Property

WASHINGTON-The Copyright Alliance welcomes H.R. 3261, The Stop Online Piracy Act, introduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bipartisan legislation would promote prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation by combating the theft of U.S. intellectual property.

The bill was introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX), Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI), and multiple cosponsors.

"The creative community stands behind this bipartisan effort and urges the full House to take it up expeditiously," said Copyright Alliance Executive Director Sandra Aistars. "We thank Chairman Smith and the other bill sponsors for their leadership on this issue.

"Enforcing copyright and other intellectual property laws in the digital environment presents multiple challenges, including offshore operators using an ever-changing variety of technologies to steal and distribute copyrighted works without authorization. Bringing copyright enforcement laws up-to-date to deal with unique online challenges is critical for America's economy, jobs and creativity. For more than 11 million people in all 50 states whose jobs rely in whole or in part on copyright, real enforcement in the digital world is the difference between earning a living and not earning a living.

"The creative community is comprised of your friends and neighbors - small businesses and individual entrepreneurs in every community in the United States. These aren't just large media conglomerates on the East and West Coasts, but everyday Americans working as authors, photographers, artists, journalists, songwriters, software developers and in many dozens of other creative pursuits.

"Enforcing copyright and intellectual property laws online helps any legitimate business with an interest in a thriving online system of legal commerce; and helps consumers by supporting a safe and trustworthy marketplace.

"The legislation introduced today targets the worst of the worst offshore commercial websites. Sites that are dedicated to theft of U.S. intellectual property, directed at users in the United States, and that would be subject to seizure under U.S. law if they were based here. There is no excuse to treat foreign operators of websites engaged in criminal activity any better than we treat criminals operating such sites in the U.S. Providing tools to enforce IP rights online against these foreign rogue sites is an important step that will help creators and artists of all varieties, and sends a strong message that America is serious about protecting its intellectual property."

Demand Progress:
URGENT ACTION NEEDED: New Internet Blacklist Bill Could Shut Down Twitter And Youtube!

Recording Industry Association of America:

House Introduces Bipartisan Legislation To Protect American IP Jobs

WASHINGTON - The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) today welcomed the introduction in the U.S. House of Representatives of bipartisan legislation, the Stop Online Piracy Act, designed to provide the Department of Justice with meaningful tools to prevent offshore "rogue" sites from offering access to illicit and counterfeit American products. The legislation was introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, Ranking Democratic Member John Conyers, Intellectual Property Subcommittee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and former Subcommittee Chairman Howard Berman. The House Judiciary Committee announced a hearing on the Stop Online Piracy Act on November 16, 2011.

The bill serves as the chamber's counterpart to similar legislation in the Senate known as the PROTECT IP bill. The PROTECT IP legislation was introduced by Sen. Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and currently has 34 bipartisan co-sponsors.

Upon the introduction of the Stop Online Piracy Act, Cary Sherman, Chairman and CEO, RIAA, offered the following statement:

"Whether you're in a taxicab in Paris, a hotel in Calcutta or a restaurant in Tokyo, American music can be heard the world over. The global appeal of American music is also a prime reason that rogue operators set up shop overseas and offer easy access to illegal downloads that pay nothing to creators and result in thousands of lost jobs and fewer opportunities for aspiring musicians.

"This legislation is a first step towards a brighter day when these rogue offshore websites can no longer duck accountability under U.S. laws, all the while providing a critical boost to the marketplace for legal digital music services. The Smith bill sensibly requires relevant parties to work together to address the collateral damage caused to everyone involved in legitimate online commerce and appropriately complements other voluntary efforts already underway. Notably, the bill also allows reasonable flexibility for ISPs in determining the most appropriate technological manner for blocking illegal sites and provides ample legal safeguards for sites accused of infringement.

"This bipartisan effort serves as another example of the broad and borderless role that intermediaries can play in discouraging digital theft. If the extensive and growing support for its companion Senate bill is any indication, policymakers, labor unions and American businesses across every industrial sector have all embraced the sensible approach of holding rogue websites accountable. We commend Chairmen Smith and Goodlatte, Ranking Members Conyers, Congressman Berman, and the co-sponsors for their leadership and we look forward to working with both House and Senate leaders on a cohesive and common sense way forward that most meaningfully tackles the problems caused by rogue sites."

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