3 Count: Digital Economy Redux

May the fourth be with you...

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1: Digital Economy Act 2017 Gets Royal Assent and is Now Law

First off today, Kelly Fiveash at Ars Technica UK reports that, in the UK, the latest Digital Economy Act has made its way through Parliament and received royal assent.

The wide-ranging bill covers multiple areas of internet-related law in the country. This includes setting a minimum for broadband internet access in the country (though reduced to 10 Mbps from a proposed 30Mbps), requiring that porn sites add age verification or face blocking and increasing the criminal penalties for online piracy from 2 years to 10 years.

The piracy component has been particularly controversial with many worried that individual users could face the higher penalties. However, supporters of the law say that the new penalties are aimed at significant cases of piracy, such as those who establish a business around it.

2: Senate Version of Copyright Office Reform Bill Introduced

Next up today, John Eggerton at Broadcast & Cable reports that, in the U.S., the Senate has introduced its own version of the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017.

The act, which is identical to the House version, would make the Register of Copyrights a direct appointee of the President (with Senate confirmation) and would pull the Copyright Office out of the purview of the Library of Congress, where it is now.

The House version easily passed last week and Senate version is identical so, if it is passed in the Senate, it will go straight to the President with no need for reconciliation (barring any Senate amendments). The prospects for the Senate version appear to be good as the bill already has several prominent and bipartisan sponsors.

3: VKontakte (Russia’s Facebook) Launches Built-In Music Streaming Service

Finally today, Vladmir Kozlov at Billboard reports that VKontakte, a popular Russian website widely described as Russia’s Facebook, has launched its new subscription music service.

VKontakte has a long history of being seen as a heaven for piracy. Though primarily a social network, the site has had file sharing services that make it easy to trade pirated content, including music. However, in recent years the site has been making an attempt to crack down on piracy and present itself as a more legitimate service.

Now the site has signed a deal with all of the major record labels and Merlin, the largest consortium of independent labels, to provide a streaming service. for 149 rubles ($2.6) per month, users will be able to stream an unlimited number of tracks and also download them for offline play via a special app.

Suggestions

That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.

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