Happy Thoughts Series: The Homestyle Exemption

11 February 2009

de_blue_hen_chickenThis second Happy Thought is a good thing in the US's domestic  copyright law, though it may fall under another category internationally.

Sec. 110(5) of the US Copyright Act is a bit infamous in its own way.  It was the subject of a WTO dispute almost a decade ago.  Although the law was found to be partially in violation of TRIPs, the US has not changed it.  Despite this international aspect, Sec. 110(5) is still a good part of the US Copyright Act.

Sec. 1110(5) allows special exemptions to small bars, restaurants and shops, or bars restaurants and shops that have minimal sound and video equipment who play broadcasts in their establishments.  This covers things like corner pubs with a small television, restaurants that play the radio for their customers, and shops playing music in the backroom that can be heard out front.

The original homestyle exemption was added to the 1976 Copyright Act as Sec. 110(5) after the famous Aiken case.  In Aiken, the Supreme Court decided that the owner of a small chicken shack was not infringing the copyright of rights owners whose work was being played on the radio station to which Aiken had his radio tuned despite the fact that customers in the restaurant could hear the radio. 

Congress amended Sec. 110(5) in 1998, splitting it into two parts: one a narrower version of the original homestyle exemption and the other another variation in line with the original exemption that came to be known as the business exemption.  The amended Sec.110(5) was part of a package deal negotiated and worked out by Congress to protect small users from abuse at the hands of the collecting management organizations but still recognize the right holders' rights by limiting the exceptions in terms of size, equipment and type of performance (i.e. only re-broadcasts).  That is why it is a good thing in the US's copyright law: it shows a successful balancing of interests between users and creators/owners.


No response to “Happy Thoughts Series: The Homestyle Exemption”
Post a Comment | Post Comments (Atom)