Sandra Aistars

The Copyright Alliance’s Executive DIrector Sandra Aistars.

The Copyright Alliance’s Executive Director Sandra Aistars today testified before the Congressional Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts Intellectual Property and the Internet. Sandra Aistar’s testimony on “Innovation in America: The Role of Copyright” comes at a key moment – a moment when Congress is poised to begin the process of reconsidering and reconfiguring the nation’s copyright laws.

A major focus of Aistar’s remarks was on the need to preserve the careful balance between the protection of intellectual property and technological innovation. Aistar’s said, “Care must be taken to ensure the balanced intellectual property protections we currently enjoy not be sacrificed in the hope that weakening protections will spur technological innovation.” Her testimony addressed criticism that copyright laws have become outdated in an age of rapid technological innovation.

Aistar’s testimony stressed that copyright laws must remain “rooted in technology-neutral principles.”  She went on to emphasize that technology and content are in fact complementary: “Creative upstarts are a source of innovative ideas, solutions and new economic potential, and they are also first-adopters of new technologies that transform the means of producing creative works.”

Aistar’s cited numerous examples of how content producers and entertainment companies have been at the forefront of technological innovation. Examples included the many technological innovations introduced by director James Cameron, and innovative distribution platforms:

• “HBO GO,” the TV Everywhere platform for HBO subscribers, was developed entirely in-house.

• Studios–in particular Warner Bros. and Universal–drove Digital Cinema Distribution Coalition (“DCDC”) with a group of major theatrical distribution companies to develop and standardize an open, transparent, cost-effective system for high speed digital delivery of movies and live event programming to all exhibitors from all content owners. This innovative technical project is quickly replacing the expensive and time-consuming process of distributing physical film prints to thousands of theaters domestically and (eventually) internationally.

• Warner Bros. invented the Video Recombine Process to upgrade older television programming into high-definition format suitable for watching on today’s HD large screen televisions and displays. This new, efficient, cost-effective process permits the upconversion of both popular and niche television shows shot on video from the 1980s and 1990s.

• Syndistro, a joint venture of Warner Bros., CBS and Deluxe, created the MagnuBox platform for syndication operations that permits multiple TV stations simultaneously to receive recorded material and live content for faster download speeds while dramatically reducing the need for costly and inefficient transcoding.

The testimony also touched on the problems presented by piracy. Though a major problem in the entertainment industry, it is very much a problem of the enforcement of existing laws and regulations. Aistar’s testimony focused on the need to reconcile technology and property rights as legislative is formulated and enacted.

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