Group catalogs online ‘piracy’

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A conservative nonprofit is targeting the country’s most popular search engine with a “Top 50” list of movies, shows and concerts posted on Google Video or YouTube as “potentially infringing content.”

The National Legal and Policy Center in Falls Church yesterday listed 50 videos ranging from the movie “Blood Diamond” to a Pink Floyd concert along with the number of days that each has been posted. The group says it will update the list periodically to raise awareness of online piracy.

However, the center says it doesn’t know for sure whether the videos are all being hosted in violation of copyright laws — a reality that arguably undermines the project.

“But it’s a reasonable assumption that much of the content has been uploaded without the copyright owner’s knowledge or approval,” said Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center.

He added: “Google has been dragging its feet for months in coming up with a solution to pirated content and still requires copyright owners to go through the laborious process of issuing [Digital Millennium Copyright Act] take-down notices before the content is removed. … The content in our first Top 50 list has been hosted on Google Video for an average of 168 days, so it’s obvious to us that they are not taking this seriously.”

For its part, Google lays out its procedures at google.com/ dmca.html. Its policy is “to respond to clear notices of alleged copyright infringement.” The page links to the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse, a site that collects and analyzes cease-and-desist notices.

Google is currently being sued for by media giant Viacom Inc. in a $1 billion copyright infringement case.

Geronimo to retire?

Local media blog Dcrtv.com is reporting that Michael Sorce, aka “Don Geronimo” of the syndicated “Don and Mike Show” on WJFK-FM (106.7), handed in his one-year notice on May 30.

Citing “a very reliable source,” Dcrtv says May 30, 2008, is an earlier end date than the one in Mr. Sorce’s current contract with employer CBS Radio Inc., which owns WJFK.

When asked about the report, Michael Hughes, CBS Radio senior vice president and general manager of WJFK, said he couldn’t comment.

“In fairness to all of our talent, I never make comments on contracts,” Mr. Hughes told Channel Surfing. “We’re just excited to have [Mr. Sorce] back from vacation and look forward to the summer.”

Clock’s ticking

As the July 15 deadline for new Internet radio royalty fees approaches, Webcasters are crossing their fingers that either the U.S. Court of Appeals will grant an injunction or that Congress will intervene before then.

On the judicial side, there’s no indication or requirement that the court must act before then. On the legislative front, bills in both houses of Congress have sat in committee since May.

As of yesterday afternoon, the House version of the “Internet Radio Equality Act” — which would reverse a March royalty rate increase passed by the federal Copyright Royalty Board — introduced by Reps. Jay Inslee, Washington Democrat, and Donald Manzullo, Illinois Republican, had 123 additional sponsors. At press time, Mr. Inslee was planning to speak about the matter on the House floor last night.

The Senate bill, introduced by Sens. Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat, and Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican, had just three additional sponsors.

Channel Surfing runs on Wednesdays. Call 202/636-3139 or e-mail krowland@washing tontimes.com.

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