More than a dozen pubTV stations have joined a new Digital Rights Coalition to advocate changes in copyright law to ease access to their programming through new digital media, the Association of Public Television Stations announced last week.
The stations’ fees, on top of their usual APTS dues, will help the association bring in legal and lobbying expertise in the “wickedly complex” realm of copyright law, says APTS President John Lawson. He hopes to move toward legislation in the fall.
The revisions could help pubTV to establish the proposed American Archive of past programming that includes many titles that are unavailable to viewers because broadcast rights for music and other elements have expired.
Legislative recommendations have not been worked out in details, but APTS points out that three useful Copyright Act provisions now apply only to broadcasting and not to new digital platforms.
Section 118, notably, lets pubcasters use certain musical and visual works under predetermined “compulsory license” copyright fees set by the federal Copyright Royalty Board or blanket rates negotiated with rightsholder groups.
Part of the same section allows teachers to use pubTV programs without royalties in their classrooms within seven days after recording them off-air.
A third provision, Section 114(b), lets pubcasters use copyrighted sound recordings without royalties if they are not commercially distributed.
Coalition members so far include the state pubcasting nets in Alabama, Georgia, Idaho and Oregon, major producers WNET/WLIW and WGBH, and stations in Salt Lake City, Twin Cities; Cocoa, Fla.; Cookeville, Tenn.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Urbana, Ill.
In June, the Senate Appropriations Committee endorsed spending some federal DTV conversion funds to develop “a digital public broadcasting archive” because much of pubTV’s past programming is not usable. The language, not yet seconded by the House, was contained in the Senate appropriations bill that includes CPB.
Web page posted July 10, 2007
Copyright 2007 by Current Publishing Committee