3 Count: Puppetmaster

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1: TV Networks Sue Nonprofit to Kill Free TV Service

First off today, Jon Brodkin at Ars Technica reports that all four of the major US broadcast networks have filed a lawsuit against the non-profit TV streaming service Locast, alleging that the service isn’t really a non-profit and that its retransmission of their signals is a copyright infringement.

Locast is a free digital service that allows users to stream over-the-air broadcast TV on their computers or devices. It is currently available in 13 markets across the United States. The service claims that, since it is a non-profit, it is allowed to do so under a law that allows non-profit organizations to create amplifiers of broadcast signals so that they can reach users that the signals otherwise wouldn’t.

However, the networks argue that Locast is not the kind of amplifier or booster that Congress envisioned when they passed the law in 1976. Furthermore, they challenge the idea that Locast is a non-profit, noting that it has close ties to the cable TV industry and was heavily bankrolled by AT&T. Locast didn’t have a direct comment on the lawsuit but, in a previous blog post, said that it would welcome a lawsuit.

2: Legal Movie Sites Could Get Special ‘Tag’ in Search Results to Deter Piracy

Next up today, Andy at Torrentfreak writes that Russia is working to pass a law that would require search engines to give stars or other tags to indicate which sites are fully legal. The move is presented as a bid to reduce piracy by encouraging users to head to legitimate choices.

In Russia, rightsholders and their representatives are able to secure the removal of allegedly infringing websites from search engines but the process is a constant battle. The government feels it may be easier to mark and highlight legitimate websites rather than just work to remove pirate ones.

That said, the highlighting may come at an additional cost. The law may require streaming providers to provide data on what content is being viewed. Already cinemas in the country are required to report such information but online services are not. That could change with this legislation.

3: Congressional Panelist Breaks Down Music Copyright with Puppets

Finally today, Cyrena Touros at The Week reports that Kevin Erickson, the director of the Future of Music Coalition, spoke at a recent congressional luncheon on the ins and outs of music licensing and used puppets to break down the complicated system.

The talk, which was at a panel hosted by the Congressional Internet Caucus Academy to discuss the Music Modernization Act (MMA) as well as other elements of music licensing, aimed to help Congress understand the complexities of the music industry. According to Erickson, the approach was in response to his personal experience pushing for the MMA (which was passed last year). During that time he saw many Congresspersons and their staff saying that music licensing was too complicated and asking it to be explained “Like I’m five.”

The talk featured four puppets, each representing a different entity in the music licensing scheme. They included a songwriter, a music publisher, the recording artist and the record label and featured color-coded hats to indicate if they were part of the composition side or the recording side of the licensing scheme.

Disclosure: I previously worked for and with the Future of Music Coalition.

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