Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law


Mark J. Davis

First Page



The 1976 Act showed foresight in extending the section 115 compulsory phonorecord license model to secondary transmissions under section III. Congress' intent was to encourage flexible market forces to set the value of cable rebroadcasts. Instead of statutory rates, they fixed minimal guidelines for the distribution of collected retransmission royalties. Originally an obscure and very technical section of the Copyright Act, the impact of section III has expanded with the merger of cable television, radio, cable, satellite, and broadband distribution of digital media. The millions of dollars in royalties paid annually by cable systems provide a tempting target for copyright owners to make up for revenue lost to internet piracy. Congress' reluctance to set clear guidelines led to a highly litigious procedure, relying on prior CRT and CARP decisions, not statute. Throughout history, advances in technology have applied new pressures to copyright law. The claim and distribution process under 17 U.S.C. § 111 must be updated for the digital age.