[Editor Charlie sez: Spoiler alert–it’s both. Another inciteful post from David Newhoff on the very Googlely ACCESS Act.]
Last week, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) suddenly—and I do mean suddenly—introduced a bill in the Senate that many of the usual copyright-haters are applauding as an “alternative” to the CLASSICS Act. It’s hard to decide whether Wyden and whatever narrow constituency he’s serving are using this bill as a political stunt aimed at killing CLASSICS, or if they’re really arrogant enough to believe this bill would not become the legal briar patch the authors of CLASSICS worked hard to avoid for the time being. In fact, just dropping this bill in the Senate’s lap at the eleventh hour has the potential to upset the entire, multi-stakeholder-negotiated Music Modernization Act omnibus package—the one in which digital platforms like Spotify have a stake—and which passed the full House with a vote of 415-0.
Despite all that, Wyden unilaterally chose to disregard the many years invested by his colleagues in the House Judiciary Committee, the volumes of testimony and negotiations, and the 2011 recommendations of the Copyright Office, to introduce a counter-proposal called the ACCESS to Recordings Act. The acronym stands for the Accessibility for Curators, Creators, Educators, Scholars, and Society. Seriously? I know legislation can get a bit agitprop in its nomenclature, but ACCESS? The curators, creators, educators, scholars, and society have access! We’re awash in access! What we need is fairness in the commercial markets for the artists whose works we access all the time.