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Section 302 of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act of 2010 (STELA) charges the U.S. Copyright Office as follows:
|“|| Not later than 18 months after the enactment of this Act, and after consultation with the Federal Communications Commission, the Register of Copyrights shall submit to the appropriate Congressional committees a report containing the following:
1. proposed mechanisms, methods, and recommendations on how to implement a phase-out of the statutory licensing requirements set forth in sections 111, 119, and 122 of title 17, United States Code, by making such sections inapplicable to the secondary transmission of a performance or display of a work embodied in a primary transmission of a broadcast station that is authorized to license the same secondary transmission directly with respect to all of the performances and displays embodied in such primary transmission.
2. any recommendations for alternative means to implement a timely and effective phase-out of the statutory licensing requirements set forth in sections 111, 119, and 122 of title 17, United States Code.
3. any recommendations for legislative or administrative actions as may be appropriate to achieve such a phase-out.
Key points Edit
The key points of the Report are:
- Although statutory licensing has ensured the efficient and cost-effective delivery of television programming in the United States for as long as 35 years in some instances, it is an artificial construct created in an earlier era. Copyright owners should be permitted to develop marketplace licensing options to replace the provisions of Sections 111, 119 and 122, working with broadcasters, cable operators and satellite carriers, and other licensees, taking into account consumer demands.
- Business models based on sublicensing, collective licensing and/or direct licensing are largely undeveloped in the broadcast retransmission context, but they are feasible alternatives to securing the public performance rights necessary to retransmit copyrighted content in many instances.
- The options of sublicensing, collective licensing, and direct licensing do not represent the entire universe of possibilities, are not mutually exclusive, and will not remain static. Business models may emerge that incorporate these concepts in part or in combination, and technology will continuously inform the practices of both licensors and licensees. Over time, marketplace licensing should evolve in a variety of innovative ways, subject to investment and experimentation in the marketplace.
- The Copyright Office recommends that Congress provide a date-specific trigger for the phase-out and eventual repeal of the distant signal licenses, but leave repeal of the local signal licenses to a later time. This approach would provide stakeholders with an opportunity to test new business models with the least likelihood of disruption to consumers, and give Congress the advantage of drawing on that experience when considering when and how to address the local signal licenses.
- Before determining the date-specific trigger and transition period for the phase-out of the distant signal licenses, the Copyright Office recommends that Congress evaluate the concerns of stakeholders who operate with limited resources in the broadcast programming distribution chain and determine whether special consideration is advisable.
- In selecting the sunset date for the distant signal licenses, the Copyright Office recommends that Congress build in a sufficient transition period, during which cable operators and satellite carriers should be instructed to negotiate with broadcast stations for carriage of the programming on the broadcast signal in cases where said broadcast stations have obtained the rights necessary to retransmit all of the content carried on their signals (provided, however, the broadcast stations forgo their mandatory carriage rights under the must-carry and carry-one carry-all provisions of the Communications Act).
- The statutory licenses at issue are codified in copyright law but do not operate in a vacuum. They interact with equally complex provisions of communications law and regulations. Congress must consider and, as appropriate, address these provisions in tandem with the recommendations described in the Report.