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First off today, Ian Paul at PC World reports that the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that aims to legalize cell phone unlocking, however, many are critical of the details of the bill, which continues to make it unlawful under certain circumstances.
Cell phone unlocking, meaning porting a phone over to a new carrier, is currently illegal in the U.S. due to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which prohibits the circumvention of digital protections, even when the intended use is non-infringing. The new bill removes that limitation but only if it’s done by the owner and specifically prohibits the bulk unlocking of cell phones.
The result is that, if the bill survives the Senate and is signed into law, while individuals will be able to unlock their cell phones, companies will not be able to buy phones in bulk for resale. This has drawn criticism from activists saying that this will create more electronic waste and continue to restrict consumer choice.
In other U.S. legislation news, Ed Christman at Billboard reports that Representative Doug Collins has introduced the Songrwriter Equity Act, which aims to update U.S. copyright law so that the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) will be compelled to consider fair market value when setting the mechanical royalties paid to songwriters by digital services.
Under the current law, the CRB sets a compulsory license for such mechanical royalties based solely on four objectives, which focus more on ensuring that songs are widely available and industry is not disrupted. The new legislation would task the CRB with setting rates that are comparable to those that would be seen in the marketplace. The legislation also allows other rate proceedings to be introduced into evidence in ASCAP and BMI rate courts.
The National Music Publishers association as well as groups that represent songwriters have applauded the new bill.
Finally today, Colin Mann at Advanced Television reports that the Center for Copyright Information (CCI) is celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Copyright Alert System (CAS), more commonly referred to as the “six strikes” system.
The CCI oversees the CAS, which is a voluntary agreement in the U.S. between rightsholders and ISPs to warn suspected file sharers of their infringing activities and, if enough warnings are reached, engage in mitigation measures that do not include disabling of the account.
According to the CCI, the system sent out far more first and second alerts than fifth or sixth, indicating to them that the system was working to deter piracy. A full analysis, however, is forthcoming.
That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.
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