Momentum continues to build for the passage of S. 968, the “PROTECT IP Act of 2011,” a critically needed legislative step towards taking down illicit foreign websites that illegally sell counterfeit products and creative works like American music.
We are encouraged by today’s news that the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s 18 members have unanimously approved the bipartisan bill, which has already garnered a chorus of support from a large variety of copyright contingent communities. Just yesterday we, alongside some fifteen other music minded groups, joined more than 170 interested businesses, trade associations, and professional and labor organizations – from the American Board of Internal Medicine to the Bose Corporation, Greeting Card Association, Johnson & Johnson, the NBA & NFL, Revlon, Rosetta Stone Inc., the Xerox Corporation and MANY more – to endorse the passage of S. 968 in the Senate. And the support list does not end there. We also note that Microsoft, country and gospel music associations, film and music industry guilds and unions and motion picture and television organizations and studios separately spoke up this week to champion the legislation and add to the already extensive body of support for PROTECT IP.
The depth and breadth of support for this bill is striking – both within major industries and unions, and across the political aisle. This unanimous vote is yet another indication of that. This is the beginning of the legislative process and there’s a lot of work to be done, but a bill cracking down on rogue websites will become law. We thank the Senate Judiciary Committee leadership for its work and look forward to working with the Senate and the House as they continue to advance this legislation and other effective proposals to protect American creation and innovation from digital theft.
Mitch Bainwol, Chairman and CEO, Recording Industry Association of America
For those who care about a civilized online ecosystem where creators’ rights are protected, it was a confusing step backwards by one of the most influential Internet companies. In a discussion with reporters in London, U.K. publication the Guardian recently reported that Google Executive Chairman Schmidt commented: "If there is a law that requires DNS [domain name systems, the protocol that allows users to connect to Web sites], to do x, and it's passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president of the United States, and we disagree with it, then we would still fight it...If it's a request, the answer is we wouldn't do it; if it's a discussion, we wouldn't do it."
The head of a multi-billion dollar leading American company openly suggesting they would defy the will of Congress AND the President? This on the heels of Google’s General Counsel’s testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives where he pledged his company’s commitment to fighting online theft. It’s no surprise creators’ rights groups have expressed outrage in response to his comments (see here and here). We’ve expressed our own bewilderment as well:
"This is baffling. As a legitimate company, Google has a responsibility to not benefit from criminal activity. In substance and spirit, this contradicts the recent testimony of Google's General Counsel that the company takes copyright theft seriously and was willing to step up to the plate in a cooperative and serious way."
The rampant online theft of music, movies and other innovative works is destroying jobs, opportunities and the careers of thousands of creative industry workers and artists. That’s why the RIAA and other industry groups regularly support Congressional action to develop more effective laws that safeguard creators’ livelihoods and property. What’s also important is that artists themselves have a say.
This week The Copyright Alliance launched artistsagainstdigitaltheft.com to offer artists, musicians and all creative industry workers a new venue to voice how digital theft affects their trade and to support legislative solutions. The site provides options ranging from artists emailing The Copyright Alliance to share their personal struggle with digital theft, accessing direct links to send messages to their local representatives and signing a petition asking Congress to take action against infringing websites that steal creators’ products and profitability. All visitors to the site can find useful tips for writing letters to local newspapers or speaking up on blogs and listservs.
Perhaps the easiest step of all – one anyone who believes that creative works have value and are worth protecting should consider – is copying and sharing the readymade Tweets and Facebook updates that the group encourages supporters to offer.
Visit artistsagainstdigitaltheft.com today to learn more about the initiative and lend your voice to creators speaking up about their experiences battling digital piracy.
Liz Kennedy, Director, Communications, RIAA
Want to see what happens when your computer turns in to a 1925 grammy phone? Sony Music Entertainment and the Library of Congress today announced a historic partnership to make Sony’s pre-1925 catalog available to the public for the first time digitally via a new website called the “National Jukebox” where visitors can stream music and view thousands of label images, record-catalog illustrations, and artist and performer bios. The catalog consists of more than 10,000 rare vintage recordings from a wide variety of genres, from the Original Dixieland Jazz Band’s “Livery Stable Blues” – widely considered to be the first jazz recording ever released– to Lena Horne’s 1923 hit “T’aint Nobody’s Biz-ness If I Do” to comedy skits by the Vaudeville team of Gallagher and Shean.
Wait, it doesn’t stop there. Not only does the “National Jukebox” allow users to stream these treasured recordings but they can also create their own playlists by genre, time period, artist and other themes that can be posted on a user’s Facebook page and shared with friends. Users can also further explore the catalog by accessing special interactive features and listening to playlists curated by Library staff and guest programmers.
And if you’re a big opera fan, or if opera’s not quite your thing but you want to impress a cute girl or boy who happens to dig arias, you’ve hit the mother lode, my friend. The National Jukebox includes a comprehensive digitized opera guide book called the “Victor Book of the Opera” that features aria comparisons by different Victor label performers, opera plot outlines, illustrations and much more to help any user bone up on this historical genre and blow away the competition.
This historic initiative represents another great example of the fantastic benefit to consumers made by the marriage of music and technology. We commend Sony Music and the Library of Congress for this great effort that encourages music fans to dive deep into our musical history and discover the rich sounds of the early 20th century. That’s an effort we can always get behind. So dive in and enjoy!
Cara Duckworth Weiblinger, Vice President, Communications, RIAA