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for improving television reception. Copyright control would discriminate between those television viewers who need no special equipment and those who do, and between those television viewers who erect their own antennas (sophisticated or simple) and those who choose to utilize the CATV service. Further, the CATV operator has no control over the content of the programs its subscribers receive and does not know what copyrighted works will be included in any given program-nor does he know who the copyright owner is. Unless a statutory compulsory license is granted, clearance plans or blanket licenses would not prevent certain copyright owners or licensees from charging exorbitant fees and thus gaining control over the much smaller CATV industry. Moreover, the royalties now being paid by broadcasters to copyright owners are based, generally, on the size of the audience reached-including CATV subscribers. Copyright owners and broadcasters are thus benefitted, at CATV's sole expense, by expanding the audience and therefore the revenue, and additional royalty payments by CATV represents windfall gain. On the other hand, duplicating programs, subject to regulatory requirements, are required to be blacked out thus protecting the copyright owner/broadcaster market, but subjecting CATV to conflicting requirements if S. 1361 (as introduced) were enacted. Without some changes in the Bill, CATV operators would be forced to choose between violating the copyright law, violating the regulations of the Federal Communications Commission, paying copyright owners and broadcasters whatever they asked to avoid litigation, or going out of business.

With that background in mind, we turn to the context of copyright law revision itself. The history of copyright law revision is revealing. The first copyright law of the United States was enacted in 1790, by the First Congress, as an exercise of the constitutional power to promote progress of science and arts by securing to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their products for a limited time. (U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8). Comprehensive revisions of the copyright law were enacted in 1831, 1870 and in 1909. The 1909 copyright revision is, basically, the present copyright law. Numerous attempts at partial copyright law revisions failed over the years but, after World War II, the United States cooperated in the development of the Universal Copyright Convention, and became a party to that Convention in 1955. That same year, pressured mounted for a general revision of the U.S. copyright law. The Copyright Office conducted studies which resulted in the 1961 study entitled "Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law.” In 1964, H.R. 11947 was introduced, but died at the end of the 88th Congress. In 1965, H.R. 4347 was introduced; it too died. In 1967, H.R. 2512 and s. 597 were introduced, both of which contained Section 111 which treated CATV. H.R. 2512 passed the House and was referred to the Senate after Section 111 was stricken from the bill, H.R. 2512 and S. 597 both died at the end of the 90th Congress. S. 597 was reintroduced as S. 543 in the 91st Congress and was amended to form S. 644 which died at the end of the 92nd Congress. S. 644 was reintroduced as S. 1361 in the 93rd Congress.

Section 111 of the Bill, dealing with cable television remains the same as it was in S. 644. As we understand S. 1361, TV and radio stations generally are treated as primary transmissions and cable television systems generally are treated as secondary transmissions.

The bill contains numerous sections which affect CATV. As examples, Section 101 defines "Audiovisual Works", "display", "perform", "publicly" and “transmit"; Section 106 relates to exclusive rights in copyrighted works ; Chapter 5 relates to infringement and remedies; and Sections 801 and 807 relate to a copyright royalty tribunal; as well as Section 111, relating to secondary transmissions. All are key parts of the Bill affecting cable television.

All commercial cable television systems would be required to pay copyright royalties based on gro88 receipts from subscribers to the basic reception service.

Every three months cable television systems would have to file with the Copyright Office a report identifying the system, the signals carried, the number of subscribers, and gross receipts from the basic reception service. Based on the information in those reports, systems would pay royalties quarterly by the following schedule:

One percent of gross quarterly receipts of up to $40,000.
Two percent of gross quarterly receipts of $40,000 to $80,000.
Three percent of gross quarterly receipts of $80,000 to $120,000.
Four percent of gross quarterly reecipts of $120,000 to $160,000.
Five percent of gross quarterly receipts of over $160,000.

The royalties would cover payments for “grandfathered" signals, local signals (Grade B), said signals provided under the Bill's adequate service, statutory license scheme. For each signal authorized by the FCC, in addition to those provided to achieve more adequate service, a surcharge of 1% would be added. Systems outside of any television markets (market is defined as a predicated Grade B signal contour of a TV station) would have a statutory license to receive any broadcast signals.

“Adequate service" is split market number 50. For markets 1-50, adequate service is all network television stations, three independent stations, and one ETV; in markets 51 and smaller, adequate service is all networks, two independents and one ETV. Construction permits are not included in the complement. No "leapfrogging" would be permitted unless a waiver was obtained from the FCC.

Where the center of the cable system is within 35 miles of a top-50 television market, run-of-the-contract exclusivity protection for "syndicated" programs must be given to local stations against distant stations. Where the center of the cable system is within 35 miles of a non-top 50 television market, protection of "syndicated” programs must be given only if the program had never been broadcast in that market. Where programs were blacked out, the FCC could authorize signals to enable the substitution of a non-protected program.

The Bill also provides for a sports "blackout" of organized professional team sports event unless a local station is transmitting the sports program.

The Bill contains a mechanism for adjusting royalty fees every five years. A copyright proprietor or user could request a Copyright Royalty Tribunal to adjust fees, which fees if adjusted would be referred to the Congress. If, within 90 days, the House or Senate does not rescind the fees, the new schedule would go into effect 91 days after the first 90-day period.

Hotel or apartment house MATV's distributing local signals without direct charge; instructional closed circuit systems; common, contract, or special carriers not controlling program content; and, government owned or nonprofit CATVs would be exempt from royalty payments.

The statutory license could be lost if the system failed to file the appropriate reports with the Copyright Office or if the system did not observe the exclusivity provisions, or if the system did not observe the sports "blackout."

Certain definitions are left for annual review by the FCC, based upon criteria in the Bill, and the FCC is permitted to regulate cable television systems in any matter not inconsistent with the Bill's provisions.

The Bill also provides for remedies for copyright infringement, including injunctions, impounding and destroying copies (tapes or films, etc.), suits for actual damages, suits for statutory damages (from $100 to $50,000 per infringement depending on the circumstances), and criminal penalties ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 in fines and one year's imprisonment for each offense.

The source of copyright protection is to promote the progress of the arts and sciences by giving authors and inventors an exclusive right to the products of their creativity for a limited period of time (U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8). Copyright protection has a twofold purpose: To encourage literary creativity and to promote dissemination of knowledge to the public. Traditionally, more importance is attached to the latter purpose. (Fox Film Corp. v. Doyal, 286 U.S. 123, 127 (1932)).

As was pointed out in the legislative history of H.R. 2222, 60th Congress, 2nd Session, in 1909, it is necessary to strike a balance between encouraging creativity through a limited monopoly and the ultimate, paramount interest of the public in unrestricted freedom to use the works of others after the authors have harvested their rewards. Thus copyright legislation is not primarily for the benefit of the owner of a work, but is for the benefit of the public.

Through the reception and distribution of television broadcast signals, CATV promotes the dissemination of knowledge to the public. But the reception and distrbution of television broadcast signals has brought several legal issues into focus. One of the first concepts to emerge was that CATV systems were engaged in “unfair competition" when they carried programs without permission or payment. This theory was judicially tested in the United States District Court for Idaho. KUTV, Inc. v. Cable Vision, Inc., 211 F. Supp. 47 (D. Idaho, 1962). That Court held that when a CATV system carried programs from a distant television station into a community where a local television station had an exclusive contractual right granted by the program owner to broadcast the programs locally, the CATV system was engaged in “unfair competition.” This decision was reversed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which held that the only judicially protectable rights, if any, in programs were the copyrights. Cable Vision, Inc. v. KUTV, Inc., 335 F.2d 348 (9 Cir., 1964).

Meanwhile, in 1960, a group of owners of copyrighted motion pictures decided to litigate their claim to copyright royalties for CATV carriage. A suit was accordingly instituted in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against two CATV systems. Initially, the District Court decided in favor of the copyright owners, United Artists Television, Inc. v. Fortnightly Corp., 255 F. Supp. 177 (S.D.N.Y., 1966). This result was sustained by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Fortnightly Corp. v. United Artists Television, Inc., 377 F. 2d 872 (2 Cir., 1967). However, the Supreme Court reversed this decision, holding that CATV's reception and distribution of television broadcast signals carrying copyrighted programs to subscribers does not constitute a “performance” needed for a violation of the Copyright Act. Fortnightly Corp. v. United Artists Television, Inc., 392 U.S. 390 (1968). The Court stated that CATV systems were more in the nature of the passive receivers, like a rooftop antenna, than active performers.

The next chapter of this history began in 1964 when the Columbia Broadcasting System sued TelePrompTer Corporation, also in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. That suit was held in abeyance until after the Supreme Court's decision in Fortnightly. CBS has tried to distinguish the facts in Fortnightly by claiming that a CATV system becomes an active performer when it imports distant television signals, uses microwave to obtain signals, interconnects with other CATV systems, originates its own pro grams, or sells advertising. The District Court rejected all of these contentions, holding instead that Fortnightly was dispositive of the issue. Columbia Broadcasting System v. TelePrompter Corp., 335 F. Supp. 618 (S.D.N.Y., 1972). This result was reversed in part by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Columbia Broadcasting System v. TelePrompTer Corp., 476 F. 2d 338 (2 Cir., 1973). That Court held that where a CATV system was carrying a "distant" television signal, such carriage stepped over the line of passive reception to become a "performance." The test for a "distant" signal was stated in the negative, i.e., a signal is "local" if it can be received in or near the CATV community. The lower court was sustained in all other respects. Both parties have asked the Supreme Court to review the Second Circuit's decision. Should this decision stand, several other issues remain to be litigated, e.g., specific application of "distant" signal test, validity of program copyrights and extent of damages.

There is yet another factor which has been raised before this Subcommittee for its consideration in fashioning copyright revision legislation: The so-called "Consensus Agreement” or “OTP Compromise."

For your convenience, the copyright provisions of the OTP Compromise follow :

A. All parties would agree to support separate CATV copyright legislation as described below, and to seek its early passage.

B. Liability to copyright, including the obligation to respect valid exclusivity agreements, will be established for all CATV carriage of all radio and television broadcast signals except carriage by independently owned systems now in existence with fewer than 3500 subscribers. As against distant signals importable under the FCC's initial package, no greater exclusivity may be contracted for than the Commission may allow.

C. Compulosry licenses would be granted for all local signals as defined by the FCC, and additionally for those distant signals defined and authorized under the FCC's initial package and those signals grandfathered when the initial package goes into effect. The FCC would retain the power to authorize additional distant signals for CATV carriage; there would, however, be no compulsory lice granted with respect to such signals, nor would the FCC be able to limit the scope of exclusivity agreements as applied to such signals beyond the limits applicable to over-the-air showings.

D. Unless a schedule of fees covering the compulsory licenses or some other payment mechanism can be agreed upon between the copyright owners and the CATV owners in time for inclusion in the new copyright statute, the legislation would simply provide for compulsory arbitration failing private agreement on copyright fees.

E. Broadcasters, as well as copyright owners, would have the right to enforce exclusivity rules through court actions for injunction and monetary relief.

Let me hasten to add that the Congress was not a party to this so-called compromise, nor to our knowledge was it consulted with, nor is it bound by the terms, in any way.

Let me also point out that the Federal Communications Commission did not adopt rules which comported in all respects with that “compromise." Notably, at the urging of television broadcasters in the Rocky Mountain region, a very important part of the Compromise (relating to network exclusivity) was sabotaged before the final Federal Communications Commission rules were adopted. Furthermore, Broadcasting magazine, in its February 14, 1972, issue reported that the licensee of KVVU-TV, Las Vegas, Nevada, had sought court review of the FCC's new rules with an eye toward obtaining their reversal. In addition, major broadcast elements, i.e., CBS, did not support the "compromise.”

It should also be pointed out that the FCC's position on legislation, announced in a letter from Chairman Dean Burch to Senator John 0. Pastore, dated March 11, 1970, and to the best of our knowledge still in effect today, is as follows:

"For example, the concept of 'adequate television service in S. 543, defined as precisely as it is, or the use of fixed mileage concepts like the 35-mile zone for program exclusivity, or the inflexible FCC non-duplication requirement specified, may not be legislatively sound, even recognizing that in some respects there is some authority given the agency to make future revisions. The approach which has been taken in the Communications Act seems preferable to us-namely, the Congressional determination of general guidelines, with the Commission left to develop and, most important, revise detailed policies to implement those guidelines in the light of rapidly changing communications technologies, and with Congress overseeing such Commission activities, particularly through the legislative hearing process.

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"We therefore believe that clarifying legislation in this field should set forth general guidelines and eschew detail. This approach, we believe, may also be employed as to any copyright legislation dealing with CATV. Such legislation can be broadly framed-for example, the Congress could adopt a provision that a CATV system shall have a compulsory license for such signals as the Commission, by rule or order, may authorize the system to carry. The copyright law could then specify the appropriate amount to be paid, or method of determining the amount, a method for distributing the funds thus paid in (e.g., a so-called “ASCAP-BMI" method), a provision for periodic adjustments in the amounts to be paid, and any exemption

for existing small systems deemed desirable.” With the benefit of observing the various threads just mentioned, we can turn to the fabric of copyright revision affecting CATV. I must point out, that because of the complexity of the subject matter, it is most difficult to achieve unanimous agreement on the approach to be followed. In this hearing however, I will present NOTA's positions and the rationale for them.

The single most vexious issue is that of establishing a fair schedule of royalty fees to be paid by CATV systems in return for receiving the statutory copyright license.

Over the past five years the CATV industry has supported legislation imposing copyright liability on CATV systems for the carriage of off-the-air broadcast signals. NOTA committed itself to seeking passage of fair and reasonable copyright legislation. With respect to the payment of royalty fees, NCTA offers the following comments on various aspects of Section 111 of S. 1361.


Once a copyright holder has permitted the sale of his product for broadcast use, equity dictates that CATV systems should be allowed to receive broadcast signals without alteration provided appropriate payment is made. CATV systems would, therefore, have reasonable access to broadcast programming.

A typical television broadcast station carries over 5,000 programs per year. A typical CATV system carries at least five television stations, and often several radio stations. Thus, it is administratively impossible to negotiate with every copyright owner prior to reception and distribution of programs. A CATV system also has absolutely no way of knowing in advance what programs are protected by copyright since a cable system is a passive reception device.

A practical solution to overcome this problem is legislation granting CATV systems a statutory license. There is ample precedent for compulsory licensing since ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC contractually grant them to networks, local broadcasters and others for all musical works. Subsection (c) of Section 111 provide for statutory license for programs on all permitted broadcast signals.

The regulatory provisions of subsection (c) are rendered unnecessary by the FCC's 1972 Cable Television Report and Order. NCTA submits that no other limitations on the FCC's authority to authorize further signal carriage should be substituted.

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Copyrights are held by thousands of people and ownerships of copyright changes daily. The burden for CATV systems to negotiate price and terms with each copyright owner would be overwhelming. Thus, a fixed fee payable to a single point is essential. Such a fixed schedule gives the copyright owner an additional fee for his product and the broadcaster a strong bargaining point for reduction of his fee. This is provided for in subsection (d) of Section 111. Under other provisions of S. 1361 other interests, such as juke box owners, would also pay a fixed fee to a central point.


To overcome objections to a fixed fee schedule for the life of the statute, Chapter 8 of S. 1361 establishes a copyright royalty tribunal. Three years after the statute is in effect and then every five years thereafter, any interested person can petition for an adjustment in the fees. The tribunal, after hearing evidence of the previous period of experience, would make a recommendation on the proposed adjustments. This will allow a practical market determination of fair rates in years to come, and the CATV industry supports this provision as written.


Section 111 provides for a progressive copyright fee schedule of 1 to 5 percent of gross revenues from the basic cable service. Consequently, the larger a CATV system becomes, the greater the percentage of its revenues to be paid as a copyright fee. As pointed out above, S. 1361 provides a mechanism for periodic revision of the fee schedule. The CATV industry supports the Congressional establishment of the initial fee schedule in the legislation along with the provision of compulsory arbitration procedures for future adjustments.

Some parties have suggested altering Section 111 so as to have even the initial fee schedule set by an arbitration tribunal. The CATV industry views this as an erroneous approach for several reasons. First and foremost, sufficient empirical data simply does not presently exist to permit arbitrators to fairly establish an initial fee schedule. Up until quite recently, CATV merely served as a master antenna for smaller and more remote communities in order to improve reception and/or provide program diversity. The financial performance of this traditional CATV operation is well known. However, the gross dollar volume of this portion of the industry is not large and will not increase a great deal. Hopefully the gross revenue that CATV will ultimately attract in the cities will be much larger. The real target for cable is the top 100 television markets. About 85% of the American people live in these markets, and CATV presently serves about 2% of this number. The principal reason for this state of affairs has been the regulatory posture of the Federal Communications Commission. In the mid-1960's, when CATV technology began to permit cable development in the cities, fear of CATV's potential impact on broadcasting led the FCC to enact a series of restrictive regulations culminating in an absolute freeze on new CATV development in the larger markets lasting from December, 1968, to March, 1972. In 1972 the FCC at last opened the door to major market CATV development. But that development is not happening overnight. First, the local franchising process and subsequent FCC approval takes many months. Second, large amounts of money must be found to finance construction. Third, construction takes time even in small communities. And finally, even a constructed system takes a year or two to develop in a market. In other words, the CATV industry still has little evidence on how well it will do in the bigger cities, or whether, in fact, it will do well at all. Such data will not be available in any meaningful quantity for a few years.

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