We wrote last month about the fact that the Copyright Office has initiated a major proceeding to reexamine the statutory licenses that allow cable systems and satellite distributors to retransmit the programming of local television stations. A statutory license allows retransmission of television signals by these multichannel video providers without getting the consent of copyright owners of each and every program (and program elements contained in the programming, e.g. music) that a broadcast station may feature in its programming. As part of this proceeding, the Copyright Office promised to hold public hearings on these licenses. The Office has announced the schedule for these hearings, to be held from July 23 to July 26. Parties interested in participating in the hearings need to register their interest on or before June 15. The Copyright Office’s notice about the hearing, which contains instructions on the process for filing a request to testify, can be found here.
Written comments in this important proceeding are due July 2. The Copyright Office has also encouraged interested parties to file suggested questions to be posed to the participants in the hearing by July 2. Reply comments in the case are due on September 13. The Copyright Office has also encouraged parties to respond to the testimony presented at the hearing in their reply comments.
The Copyright Office will take the written comments and oral testimony, analyze the positions that are taken, and prepare a report to Congress due next June. That report could potentially recommend actions that could affect the competitive balance between cable and satellite, the relationship between both of those industries and local television stations, and even whether Internet video providers could get rights to carry the programming of local television stations. Interested parties may well want to participate in shaping their future by filing their comments in this proceeding.