Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Our Neighbour and Neighboring Rights

Billboard reports that:
As expected, the Performance Right Act has been reintroduced jointly to Congress today with Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bob Corker (R-TN), and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) submitting it in the Senate, while in the House by Representatives, it was sponsored by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Representatives Howard Berman (D-CA), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Jane Harman (D-CA), John Shadegg (R-AZ), and Paul Hodes (D-NH).

While radio already pays songwriters for songs they broadcast over the air, the bill would require royalties to also be paid the artists and musicians performing the songs and master recordings copyright owners, as well.
Now, it's easy to cheeky and point out how the lack of legislation to date in the USA on these rights shows once again how much stronger and better Canadian copyright is than American, as I've done elsewhere.

But, if the Americans ever get around to enacting real neighbouring rights, it could cost a lot of money to Canadian broadcasters and others whose liabilities are currently limited by the lack of automatic national treatment for neighboring rights under the Copyright Act. S. 22 provides a mechanism whereby the Minister "may" grant national treatment or material reciprocity under specified circumstances. There would be a lot of pressure on the Minister to declare that the Americans would be eligible for national treatment. While s. 22 says "may", there may be considerable pressure to treat "may' as "must".

In any event, if we ratify WPPT, there would be a mandatory requirement to provide national treatment to the Americans on these rights if they have enacted similar provisions.

There are big bucks at stake here...


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