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Then, they deliver the programs or transcripts to their

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services are used to follow the reporting of issues at the

local and national levels, for law enforcement, to respond

to negative or inaccurate reporting, for disaster relief,

to monitor commercial advertisements and for preserving

and studying the news.

By using broadcast monitoring services, viewers nationwide can stay on top of news programs, wherever they

may be broadcast.

No longer are viewers limited by time

or geography to stations in their own areas, or to

watching only one of several programs aired


Broadcast monitoring services advance a core

constitutional interest because they disseminate important

information throughout the country and safeguard the

public's right of access to news programming. Yet, such services are now under attack. claiming that monitoring

services infringe their copyrights in broadcast

programming, a vocal and litigious minority of

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public's ability to watch, respond to and study the news.

Moreover, broadcasters may not even own the copyrights in

some of the programming that they air and that is


To date, broadcast monitoring services have

relied on the constitutional balance of the copyright law to protect their interests and those of the public.

Although copyright is intended to reward creators, its

ultimate purpose is to ensure that works are made broadly

available to the public.

This goal is embedded in the

Constitution, in the Copyright Act and, particularly, in the fair use doctrine of the copyright law.

By preserving news programs for later viewing and by diffusing them nationally, broadcast monitoring

services have demonstrated repeatedly that they advance

the constitutional and statutory goals of disseminating expression. At the same time, monitoring services have not the slightest negative economic impact on broadcasters

or on their incentive to produce news or other


The underpinnings of the copyright law and the

fair use doctrine should, therefore, protect and encourage

the development of monitoring services.

As the Supreme

Court decided in the Sony Betamax case, copyright law

clearly permits individuals and corporations to monitor and record programming off-air. Monitoring services, with

their greater technological resources and national reach, simply do for their clients what the fair use doctrine

would otherwise permit them to do for themselves.

In recent decisions, however, some courts have misapplied the copyright law, as it was enacted by

Congress and as it has been interpreted by the Supreme

Court. These decisions refuse to recognize the realities of broadcast monitoring and fail to comprehend how it serves the public. By enjoining the legitimate and necessary monitoring services that the public demands,

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Broadcast Monitors ("IABM") is asking Congress to amend

Section 107 of the Copyright Act to make clear to courts

that the provision of broadcast monitoring services is a

fair use.

The IABM was formed in 1981 and is a broad

based organization representing the community of interest

in broadcast monitoring including fifty broadcast monitoring services in 22 states and in Europe, Asia and


as well as corporations and agencies that depend

heavily on monitoring services.

When it codified the fair use doctrine in 1976,

Congress stressed that courts should interpret it with

great flexibility, to accommodate inevitable and rapid technological changes. Certainly, as the Supreme Court

has recognized, the video revolution represents one of the

most profound technological changes of this century.


some of today's courts seem mired in the past, elevating

the claims of only a few broadcasters over the broader

interests of the public in using broadcast monitoring


Congress should act to protect those interests

and clarify the law to state that the monitoring of news

programs, whether by an individual or by a service that

monitors for individuals, is a fair use.



What is Broadcast News Monitoring?

Broadcast news monitoring is watching, tracking and reviewing broadcast news programming. It is simply the exercise of the right of an individual to have access to the information broadcast over the public airwaves. Exercising that right may mean not only watching a news program as it is aired, but capturing the program on video

tape for review, comment or criticism.

It also means the

ability to monitor news programs aired in geographically

remote areas,

or at times of the day or week when on-air

viewing is not possible.

The activities that comprise broadcast news

monitoring are so essential to maintaining a free and well-informed society that we tend to take our right to

monitor for granted.

It is indisputable that the public

has a constitutionally protected interest in knowing the content of news programming, and that, since the Sony


case, individuals have a right to tape news

programming off-the-air to view at a later time.


naturally follows, then, that the public has the right to

engage broadcast monitoring services to ensure that it can meaningfully exercise its constitutional and statutory

interests and rights.

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