World IP Day 2017: Copyright Reform and Performance Rights
Every year, on April 26th, countries from around the globe celebrate the importance of Intellectual Property (IP). IP remains critical to boosting economic growth, and with more than 40 million jobs in the United States directly and indirectly attributable to IP intensive industries, policymakers must take the issue seriously. Protecting IP rights is not only important here at home but also it is important all over the globe. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) remains committed to the goal of promoting and protecting IP at home and abroad and one strong show of support was this coalition letter addressed to Dr. Francis Gurry, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), outlining the reasons why protecting IP is critical for the entire world. The letter was spearheaded by the Property Rights Alliance and signed by more than 80 other organizations representing more than 50 countries.
Here at home, there continue to be positive developments on protecting and promoting IP. Specifically: the issues of copyright and performance rights.
First, on moving forward with Copyright reform, Congress continues to work on plans to modernize the Copyright Office and TPA is supportive of these efforts. There is broad agreement that the Copyright Office, which administers the U.S. copyright system and serves the over $1.1 trillion market for copyrighted works, needs to modernize. The initial work being done by members of the Judiciary Committee has been very encouraging and modernizing the Copyright Office is a critical step towards strengthening intellectual property rights and encouraging innovation in the creative space. There is currently bipartisan legislation that would officially designate the Register of Copyrights as a Presidentially nominated and Senate confirmed position. This is step in the right direction on bringing more accountability to the Copyright Office, while ensuring that there will be ownership by the Registrar over the major decisions they will have to make throughout their tenure. TPA is pleased to support this bipartisan legislation and this is hopefully just one piece of an overall plan to modernize the U.S. Copyright Office.
Another issue that is important for the strength of IP is performance rights. The way in which those in the creative community are recognized for their contributions is paramount to the very principles of protecting and promoting intellectual property. Congress continues to work on this and there are two pieces of recently introduced legislation that will directly impact the creative community in a positive way. The Fair Play Fair Pay Act, introduced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and co-sponsored by Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NYJ, Darrell Issa (R-Cali.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Tom Rooney (R-Fla), and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.). This legislation would create a level playing field for how artists are compensated when their music is played on certain stations. The bill would also eliminate rules that have picked winners and losers in the marketplace based on outdated guidelines on older digital services. Next, the Performance Royalty Owners of Music Opportunity To Earn Act of 2017 (PROMOTE Act) would allow “performing artists to opt out of having their music played on the radio if the performing artist is not being paid an agreed-upon performance royalty.” These two pieces of legislation enjoy broad support, including from TPA, and would be beneficial for a variety of stakeholders who care about defending IP.
World IP Day comes once a year but the fight to protect, defend, promote, and strengthen IP at home and abroad is a fight that continues every day. As the global community begins to recognize the real importance of strong IP rights, economies will benefit and it is important for the United States to lead the way. TPA will continue to work with lawmakers and stakeholders in the creative space to ensure that everything is being done to make sure that intellectual property remains a priority for all.