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Then, they deliver the programs or transcripts to their
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
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,
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
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.
NATURE OF BROADCAST MONITORING SERVICES
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
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.