Congress Hears Pleas for Stronger Copyright Protections
Members of a U.S. House of Representatives panel saw copyrights through different lenses Thursday.
Donning special glasses, members of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet viewed a 3-D video clip as part of a hearing that featured music, photo, and movie industry representatives, all touting the economic benefits of strong copyrights. Leaders from the Copyright Alliance, Getty Images Inc., the American Society of Media Photographers, Yep Roc Records and Redeye Distribution Inc., and 3-D moviemaker Stereo D LLC said robust copyright protections are vital for their industries' growth and survival in the digital age.
John Lapham, senior vice president and general counsel of Getty Images, said his company faces challenges with copyright infringement online. The media company has technology in place to pursue pirated content, but it isn't enough, according to Lapham. But Congress can help, he said.
"Our goal in reviewing licensure laws should be to protect creativity and still allow for an active and intelligent marketplace for searching and licensing creative works," Lapham told the subcommittee. "When we do so we can all benefit from content that moves, inspires, provokes, educates, and encourages."
Eugene Mopsik, executive director of the American Society of Media Photographers, said fair compensation and fair use expansion are his group's biggest problems. Innovation, the nation's "visual heritage," and the public record "would be drastically reduced in both quantity and quality" without copyright protection, he said.
Tor Hansen, co-owner and co-founder of Yep Roc Records and Redeye Distribution, said Congress should also look at file sharing and other ways pirated music can move around the Internet as it studies potential copyright law changes. For the 3-D movie industry, pirated blockbuster films are major concerns, said William Sherak, Stereo D's president.
"If an environment exists that does not provide adequate copyright protection and blockbuster films become unaffordable and unprofitable due to the threat of piracy, this new and thriving 3-D industry will be significantly hampered and severely impacted," Sherak said. "The reason being that 3-D conversions are normally undertaken on major blockbuster films—the very films that are often the greatest targets of piracy."
At the hearing, the witnesses made it clear that they aren't against the tech industry. Sandra Aistars, Copyright Alliance's executive director and a former Time Warner Inc. vice president and associate general counsel for IP, said tech companies are, in fact, their partners in content creation and distribution.
Because of that partnership, "A robust and updated Copyright Act is important to all of us," she said.
The subcommittee will hold a hearing next week with representatives of the tech community as part of its review of copyright laws, said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.)
Copyright holders and tech companies are "two important components of our economy [that] have a unique symbiotic relationship and are responsible for significant innovation in America," he said.