Here comes the (copyright) judge

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) has introduced a bill to get the Copyright Office
out of the business of mediating copyright-rate disputes.

The bill would "streamline" the CRT Reform Act of 1993, which created
Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panels (or CARPs) to settle rate disputes like
last year's dispute between Webcasters and broadcasters over Internet

In that fight, fees had been set by a CARP, then reduced by the Librarian of
Congress, but they were challenged by both content providers and streamers.

The new bill would instead create a copyright judge position. He or she would
have "full adjudicatory responsibility, including the ability to decide both the
law and rates." The Copyright Office would no longer be a part of the appeals
process, except in an administrative or advisory capacity.

The bill would required claimants to set a price in dispute and send them to
small claims court if it was under $500. It would also set a hearing phase of
six months and send appeals of the copyright judge's decision to the D.C.
Circuit Court of Appeals.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.