CCIA Denounces HBO Inaugural Copyright Claims

BY CCIA Staff
January 21, 2009

Those wanting to watch a YouTube clip of Pete Seeger singing “This Land Is Your Land” at the inaugural concert this week may soon be out of luck because HBO is saying the copyright of the concert belongs to them.

According to news reports, HBO is demanding YouTube take down video postings of the concert, including those people sharing their view of the event filmed on their cellphones. HBO reportedly is claiming it has the exclusive copyright for the video of this event because it purchased a six months license from the inaugural committee, which owns the license.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association, a longtime advocate of balanced copyright laws, denounced HBO’s alleged actions.

“If their ridiculous interpretation of the law is true, tens of thousands of citizens recording memories at this historic public event could have broken the law and be held liable for statutory damages that can be up to $150,000 each. This is a public event held on public grounds, open to all citizens without restriction. Those sharing their memories on YouTube or other formats should be covered under Fair Use laws. It’s yet another example of the outrageous, excessive attitude of certain big content companies, said CCIA President & CEO Ed Black. “If we continue to give ground to overreaching requests from the greediest part of the content industry ‘this land’ will belong to them not you and me.”

“The Federal Trade Commission and the new Administration needs to label this as an excessive attempt to use copyright law to block the Fair Use rights of citizens. The FTC has previously received various complaints relating to Fair Use abuse perpetrated by the worst abusers in the content industry.

“The Internet allows more Americans to participate in politics and share comments and video clips of the events they experience. This participation needs to be encouraged not squelched by those illegally trying to maximize profits.”

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