U.S. Congressman Rick Boucher, moving

U.S. Congressman Rick Boucher, moving to strengthen “fair use” provisions under federal copyright law, said he is introducing a bill that would essentially restrict the record industry from selling copy-protected CDs.

While conceding later that copy-protected CDs aren’t against existing law, he said their introduction wouldn’t even impact the music piracy the music industry is trying to stop. Instead, the move will “anger millions of their best-customers who have become accustomed of making copies [of CDs] for their own use,” which is allowed under “fair use” provisions of copyright law.

The provisions in the bill, which are expected to be up for debate by September at the latest, include the following:

- Change the “Ephemeral” Recording Exemption of copyright law
- Expand existing selection for sampling of songs, much the way offline music stores allow people to listen to tracks before buying
- Allow back up copies of music on a hard drive, much the way software copies are backed up in case a computer hard-drive has to be rebuilt
- Address older “mechanical” rights of copyright law by creating “safe harbor” provisions
- Require “non-discrimination” in the licensing of music inventories by major labels in the music industry
- Require an examination of programming restrictions
- Require direct payment to artists: Current law says royalty payments are to be shared among the recording companies and performing artists

Finally, a congressman who gets it.

My guess is that this has exactly one snowball’s chance in hell of getting past the recording industry lobby unscathed, but still, it’s nice to see something that’s a step in the right direction.