The IATSE praises House Judiciary Committee Chairman Nadler and Ranking Member Collins for defending the livelihoods of behind the scenes workers and other industry creators against online piracy. In the current digital and Internet environment, our members rely more than ever on adequate and effective copyright protection. While we do not own the copyrights to the works we help create, our livelihoods depend on contractual royalty payments (known as “residuals”) we receive when the copyrights for the audiovisual works we have helped create are licensed to others over the life of a work.
Unfortunately, U.S. law fails to provide adequate and effective protection to copyrighted works, and this critical shortcoming has been adopted into the proposed USMCA. Under Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, internet media businesses continue to profit from the exploitation of copyrighted movies and television programs without paying creators sufficient – or in many cases any – remuneration. We are concerned that the USMCA will export the flawed Section 512 regime to Canada and Mexico, making it even harder to change here in the U.S.
In their letter to U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer, Chairman Nadler and Ranking Member Collins express their concern about the incorporation of safe harbor into the USMCA, and seek to ensure that future U.S. trade agreement negotiations will include thorough consultation with the Judiciary Committee that has jurisdiction over, and expertise in, copyright.
Ensuring that federal trade policies protect the value of copyright and respect creators’ rights is of utmost importance to our union. Encouraging trade experts who seek to open markets for U.S. film, television and new media productions to closely consult with copyright experts who seek to promote the rights of content creators, is a critical step in the right direction.