3 Count: USCO Fail

This is daily column on Plagiarism Today where the site brings you three of the days biggest, most important copyright and plagiarism news links. If you want to offer your feedback on the column, use the contact form or just follow me on Twitter at @plagiarismtoday.

1: YouTube Ordered To Pay $1.6 Million To ASCAP

First off today, YouTube has been ordered to pay The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) $1.6 million in licensing fees for the site’s use of music in its videos.

ASCAP, which represents songwriters, lyricists and composers, collects royalties for a variety of uses of music including from night clubs and radio stations. However, there has been a great deal of confusion about what exactly companies like Google should pay in royalties. Though there was a previous ruling on the matter dealing with AOL, RealNetworks and Yahoo!, the ruling applied very poorly to Google.

Both sides came into the case with very different demands. ASCAP wanted Google to pay approximately $19 million, plus another $7 million per year afterward. Google felt they should only pay approximately $100,000 with another $80,000 per year ongoing. The court split the difference and chasitized both sides for not supporting their cases. Under the current system, Google will have to pay $1.61 million now with another $70,000 per month afterward.

This case illustrates the confusing and convoluted licensing system for music right now, the same system that is hindering online radio and other Web-based music apps.

2: 2009? Wishful Thinking, Perhaps, as Backlog Mounts

If you are waiting for your copyright registration, you probably should not hold your breath. The current wait time for a new copyright registration is approximately 18 months, up from the previous 6 months, and the delays are getting worse.

At fault is with the new electronic filing system, which went live in the middle of 2008. The problem is two-fold. First, the USCO expected nearly all filers to switch to the electronic system and effectively shut down its paper registration system, making it so that paper registrations had to be filed by hand, increasing the time it took to create them. However only 55% of all filers switched to the new system, leaving 45% to continue filing via paper.

Second is problems with the electronic system itself, including issues with uploading files and confusion about how the system is supposed to work. This is a big part of the reason so few have made the switch, but has also left the USCO with a slew of customer service issues and problems.

The end result, the more efficient and streamlined electronic system has increased the delay in getting a registration 3-fold and the USCO is only getting further into the hole, processing only 7,000 applications per week even though it receives over 10,000.

It’s going to be a long wait…

3: Rewriting Canada’s Copyright Law

Finally today, do you not like Canada’s copyright law? Think you can do better? Well, give it a shot.

The Globe and Mail has created a wiki that lets anyone edit and revise their own draft of Canada’s copyright laws. On June 1st, the “final” version of the code will be sent to Ottawa for consideration.

So, if you’ve always wanted to write your own version of the copyright code for a country, now is your chance.


That’s it for the three count today, we’ll 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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