Copyright Protection in the Cable Television Industry: Satellite Retransmission and the Passive Carrier Exemption
Copyright Protection in the Cable Television Industr y: Satellite Retransmission and the Passive Carrier Exemption
Niels B. Schaumann 0 1
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1 Niels B. Schaumann, Copyright Protection in the Cable Television Industry: Satellite Retransmission and the Passive Carrier Exemption , 51 Fordham L. Rev. 637 (1983). Available at:
The development of the cable television' industry has been fraught
with copyright and regulatory problems.2 The absence of cable
copyright liability prior to 19763 created an imbalance in the rights
enjoyed by broadcasters, copyright holders and cable operators. These
parties hoped that the imbalance would be rectified by the limited
copyright liability imposed on cable systems in the Copyright Revision
Act of 1976 (Act)4 and by Federal
(FCC or Commission) regulation of cable's use of copyrighted
television broadcasts pursuant to the Consensus Agreement of 1972
Unfortunately this hope has not been fulfilled. Whether copyright
liability even exists for retransmission carriers, an important segment
of the cable industry, remains unclear." These carriers, through
microwave or satellite facilities, provide cable systems with
programming originally broadcast by television stations that are sufficiently
distant from the cable market to render off-the-air pick-up
impossible. Whether a retransmission carrier is exempt from copyright
liability depends primarily upon the construction of section 111(a)(
of the Act,' which provides an exemption from copyright liability to a
passive carrier meeting certain criteria. 9
The passive carrier exemption, however, was drafted during the
infancy of the telecommunications industry.' 0 This Note contends that
the exemption should be strictly construed. Carriers that are not
entirely passive" should not be protected and therefore should obtain
the permission of the copyright holder before retransmitting a
copyrighted television broadcast signal. In reaching this conclusion, this
Note examines the industry and legal settings of the issue, analyzes the
retransmission carrier's copyright liability under the Act, and justifies
the imposition of copyright liability on certain carriers on the basis of
the language and intent of the Act and broader policy considerations.
I. THE CONTEXT OF THE CABLE-CARRIER CONTROVERSY
The copyright law of modern cable television is the product of a
complex evolution. From humble "community antenna" beginnings,
cable has developed into a multi-billion dollar industry utilizing the
latest satellite communications technology.
A. The Development of Cable Television
Commercial cable television service began in 1950.12 At the time, it
was known as Community Antenna Television (CATV). 13 CATV
systems improved television reception in remote areas where consumer
antennae could not adequately receive broadcast signals."' This
original cable service soon proved highly popular with consumers. 15
Moreover, as cable service expanded, it diversified. By 1959, cable
operators were importing broadcast signals via microwave carrier from
stations that were too distant even for community antenna
reception. 16 By late 1965, importation of distant signals was becoming the
principal function of cable service. 17 The industry had grown
explosively, tripling in size in the six years since microwave importation
All three branches of government responded to this dynamic
growth. While litigation tested whether cable systems violated the
1909 Copyright Act by retransmitting television programming, 9
Congress had already begun the lengthy process of copyright revision.2 0
Finally, the FCC asserted general jurisdiction over cable television in
1966, and instituted regulations that effectively froze cable growth.2 1
The FCC freeze continued during the exploration of regulatory
alternatives, until negotiations among all of the affected parties produced
the Consensus Agreement.22
With the 1972 Consensus Agreement, the cable industry achieved a
substantial easing of FCC restrictions.2 3 In exchange, however, it
supported both copyright revision legislation establishing cable's
liability for broadcast retransmission, and the continued regulation of
cable's use of copyrighted broadcast material. 24
In addition to the Consensus Agreement, a second major
development occurred in 1972: FCC authorization of domestic
communications satellite service.2 5 Although four years passed before television
retransmission via satellite was authorized, 26 it is now apparent that
satellite technology, 27 much like microwave importation, has
revolutionized cable television. 28 While the potential inherent in
satellitecable combinations remains unrealized, the growth of
"cablecasting" 29 and the possibility of direct-from-satellite consumer reception3 0
portend unprecedented entertainment dissemination.
Cable's economic growth reflects its technological potential. Over
the last three years, the multi-billion dollar cable industry has doubled
its subscribers and quadrupled its revenues.31 The programming for
which millions of cable subscribers pay is furnished by copyright
holders, either indirectly by licensing for television broadcast and
subsequent importation to distant cable systems, or directly, through
licensing for cablecasting. 32 Recent developments have been generally
adverse to these copyright holders. Of particular concern is the first
offspring of the satellite-cable marriage: the superstation.
B. RetransmissionCarriersand the Superstation
1. Stations and Superstations
Commercial broadcasters are divided into network affiliates and
independents. 33 In either case, programming is generally not
produced at the station, but rather is obtained from outside sources.3 4 A
28. See Schwartz, Cable TV ProgrammersFind Problems Amid Fast Growth,
N.Y. Times, Sept. 28, 1982, at 1, col. 1. Schwartz reports that satellite systems were
being added at the rate of one per month in 1982. Id. at col. 2. "Almost all sizeable
cable systems today ... use either microwave relays or ... [satellite] earth stations
to receive distant signals or pay programming." Botein, Jurisdictionaland Antitrust
Considerationsin the Regulation of the New Communications Technologies, 25
N.Y.L. Sch. L. Rev. 863, 870 (1980) [hereinafter cited as Botein I].
29. The term "cablecasting" refers to cable system origination of programming,
as opposed to broadcast retransmission. United States v. Midwest Video Corp., 406
U.S. 649, 653 n.6 (1972). Cablecast programming is generally available only as a
premium product for which an additional subscription fee must be paid. For this
reason, it is sometimes referred to as "pay cable." See Home Box Office, Inc. v. FCC,
567 F.2d 9, 24 (D.C. Cir.), cert. denied, 434 U.S. 829 (1977).
30. Rice, Regulation of Direct Broadcast Satellites: International Constraints
and Domestic Options, 25 N.Y.L. Sch. L. Rev. 813, 813 (1980). At present this
technology is expensive, but efforts are underway to bring down its cost and increase
its availability. Perle, Is the BirdPie in the SkyP-Communications Satellites and the
Law, 27 Bull. Copyright Soc'y U.S.A. 325, 326-27 (1980).
31. In 1979, cable industry revenue was one billion dollars. Compulsory License,
supra note 24, at 943. Subscribership has increased from 14 million in 1979 to 28
million in 1982. Schwartz, supra note 28, at col. 2. Cable's 1982 revenue is expected
to exceed four billion dollars. Id.
32. See supra note 29, infra notes 33-40 and accompanying text.
33. See 17 U.S.C. § 111(f) (Supp. V 1981). A "network station" transmits a
"substantial part of the programming supplied" by its affiliated network. Id. All
other stations are independents. Id. The FCC defines a network station as one that
carries in weekly prime time 85% of the programming offered by its affiliated
network. 47 C.F.R. § 76.5(l) (1981).
34. Compulsory License, supra note 24, at 935-36. High production costs are
partly responsible for this practice. Id. Local news and public affairs programs,
however, may be produced at the station. Id.
network affiliate's programs are usually provided by its network
"parent."' 35 All affiliates that will show the program in the same time zone
are simultaneously furnished with the program, 36 and are
compensated by the network according to the size of the local market.3 7
An independent station, on the other hand, purchases syndicated
programming.38 This material is not simultaneously transmitted, but
is furnished to the broadcaster for a period of time, 39 during which the
station has exclusive local broadcast rights. 40
Superstations are independent stations4 l whose programming is
retransmitted by satellite carriers to a technologically unprecedented
number of cable systems. 42 The superstation's impairment of
copy35. Id. at 936. The affiliates are granted a right of first refusal. Id. The network
parent either produces the program itself, or purchases it on the syndicated market.
36. Id. The networks have generally used terrestrial means, such as AT&T lines,
to provide programming to their affiliates. Broadcasting, Mar. 27, 1978, at 66. The
networks use satellites, however, for live news and sports coverage. Perle, supranote
30, at 328.
37. Compulsory License, supra note 24, at 936. This is accomplished by a system
under which the participants share in the revenue from the national advertising
carried by each affiliate as part of the program. Deregulation,supranote 21, at 610.
38. Deregulation,supra note 21, at 610. The syndicated market consists of the
fare available directly from program producers and suppliers. Compulsory License,
supra note 24, at 936. Like network affiliates, independent stations are
advertisersupported. Unlike the affiliate, however, whose time is largely pre-sold, the
independent station must sell its own time.
39. Compulsory License, supra note 24, at 936. The programming is often
furnished by means such as airmail or air freight. Perle, supra note 30, at 327. This
provides a stark contrast to satellite retransmission, by which cable systems obtain
40. Compulsory License, supra note 24, at 936.
41. See Brotman, Cable Television and Copyright: Legislation and the
Marketplace Model, 2 Comm/Ent L.J. 477, 481-82 (1979-1980). Brotman discusses the
superstation phenomenon in terms of "[c]opyright owners who originally contracted
with local independent television stations." Id. at 482. A network affiliate is unlikely
to become a superstation: If its signal duplicates that of a local affiliate in the distant
market, the imported affiliate's signal may be required to be blacked out. This results
from the FCC "network nonduplication" rules. See 47 C.F.R. §§ 78.1-.115 (1981).
Elimination of these rules would have a potentially devastating effect on the
networks, by permitting network affiliates to compete with each other. The effect on
copyright holders might be less dramatic: To the extent that alternate means of
dissemination are made available, see supra notes 29-30 and accompanying text,
copyright holders need not remain economically linked to network television.
42. By 1979, superstations were reaching over five million homes. Brotman,
supra note 41, at 481. Three years later, one superstation alone was reaching over
five million viewers. Brief for Defendant-Appellee at 4, Eastern Microwave, Inc. v.
Doubleday Sports, Inc., 691 F.2d 125 (2d Cir. 1982), cert. denied, 51 U.S.L.W. 3612
(U.S. 1983). Prior to the advent of satellites, superstation carriage was not deemed
feasible, chiefly because of the high cost of microwave point-to-point retransmission.
See Report and Order, Docket No. 20,487, 57 F.C.C.2d 625, 630-31 (1976). As cable
continues to grow, however, even terrestrial point-to-point retransmission is
apright stems from the nationwide distribution of locally licensed
material. 43 After national distribution, the value of syndicated
programming in an already competitive market declines substantially, because
fewer viewers are attracted to what they have already seen. 44
Although their name seems to imply otherwise, many superstations
actively avoid this extensive distribution of their programming. 45
Instead, superstation distribution results from the efforts of a separate
entity, the satellite retransmission carrier. 46 These carriers engage in
activities mark4e7dly different from those of their technologically
2. The Varieties of Carriers
The first retransmission carrier, 48 Intermountain Microwave, was a
communications common carrier 49 authorized by the FCC in 1958 to
furnish a point-to-point microwave retransmission service.50 This type
of service takes its name from the means by which the carrier relays a
television signal: The signal is transmitted, from the point of its
offthe-air pick-up to the point of its distribution, by means of
line-ofsight microwave "repeaters" located about twenty-five miles apart."
As distant signal importation increased, the number of terrestrial
retransmission carriers grew commensurately.52 The next major
develproaching satellite superstation dimensions. See infra note 211 and accompanying
43. See Brotman, supra note 41, at 482.
44. Note, Regulatory Versus Property Rights Solutions for the Cable Television
Problem, 69 Calif. L. Rev. 527, 531 (1981) [hereinafter cited as Property Rights
Solutions]. Although it might be argued that the superstation could charge higher
advertising rates, reflecting its increased audience and thus enabling it to license
programming at higher rates, this has not proven practicable. See Perle, supra note
30, at 330 n.6; PropertyRights Solutions, supra, at 530. Whether the broadcaster can
be "forced" to attempt to secure national advertising is also questionable. Perle,
supra note 30, at 330.
45. See Brotman, supra note 41, at 482. For example, the broadcaster in WGN
Continental Broadcasting Co. v. United Video, Inc., 685 F.2d 218 (7th Cir. 1982),
sought to enjoin a satellite carrier from retransmitting copyrighted television
programming. Id. at 220.
46. Perle, supra note 30, at 329.
47. See infra notes 150-52 and accompanying text.
48. For the purposes of this Note, all carriers whose function is the further
transmission ("retransmission" or "secondary transmission") of television broadcast
signals will be referred to as "retransmission carriers."
49. A communications common carrier is required to provide its services to all
qualified customers. See infra note 88.
50. In re Intermountain Microwave, 24 F.C.C. 54, 54 (1958).
51. Video Development, supra note 14, at 794 n.42. Each repeater receives the
signal, amplifies it, and retransmits it to the next repeater. Id.
52. Within a year of Intermountain's authorization, 50 such carriers were
operating, importing signals to 75 communities. Report and Order, Docket No. 12,443,
opment5 3 in the retransmission carrier industry took place in 1976,
when the FCC authorized satellite retransmission service.5 4 Satellite
owners generally lease their facilities to other carriers who furnish the
material to be retransmitted.5 5 "Lessee" carriers are termed "resale"
carriers, and the lessors are called "underlying" carriers. 6
Thus, a satellite resale retransmission carrier is a carrier that leases
space on a satellite from an underlying carrier and uses the leased
space to retransmit superstation broadcast signals to cable systems.
Both the resale and the underlying carriers are retransmission carriers.
The major advantage of satellite service over point-to-point
microwave retransmission is that the distance over which a signal is
retransmitted, and the number of its recipients, are eliminated as cost factors
in retransmission.5 7 When a signal is transmitted to the satellite, it
returns to earth in a "footprint" covering an immense geographic
area.5 8 Regardless of its point of origin, the satellite-retransmitted
signal costs no more to receive in Los Angeles than it does in New
York.5 9 Although at present the customers of resale carriers are
primarily commercial entities, 0 including many cable systems,6 ' the
possibility of a national satellite network transmitting directly to the
consumer appears increasingly likely. 2
Thus, the cable industry uses two major varieties of carriers: the
more sophisticated satellite carriers and their traditional counterparts,
the microwave point-to-point carriers. In evaluating the superstation
phenomenon, it is important to distinguish the copyright liability of
the carrier from that of the cable system. Superstation carriage is
made possible solely by the satellite resaler. 63 Unlike the point-to-point
carriers, the satellite resalers engage in the active marketing and
promotion of the signals they retransmit, 64 and conduct surveys of
cable systems to determine which signals may most profitably be
retransmitted. 65 The destruction of copyright holders' markets
resulting from unlimited superstation carriage of television programming"6
has reincarnated the cable-copyright problem in the form of a
II. THE HISTORY OF THE 1976 CABLE-COPYRIGHT PROVISIONS
Before the promulgation of the Act, the Supreme Court held that
cable systems did not violate the Copyright Act of 1909 (1909 Act)6 7
by retransmitting broadcasts without the permission of the copyright
holder. 6 8 At the same time, however, the FCC's protection of
broadcasters benefited copyright holders by limiting cable's unlicensed use
of copyrighted broadcast material.6 9 The cable television provisions of
the Act, which became effective in 1978,70 were in large part premised
on these developments. 7 1
A. The Cable-CopyrightControversy Under the 1909 Act
The question of a cable system's copyright liability first came before
the Court in Fortnightly Corp. v. United Artists Television, Inc.72
Fortnightly was a CATV system-that is, it improved its subscribers'
reception of local broadcasts without providing additional, distant
Under the 1909 Act, the crucial cable-copyright issue was whether a
cable system "performed" the copyrighted works.7 4 In deciding this
question, the Court contrasted the functions of viewers and
broadcasters. 75 Stating that "Broadcasters perform. Viewers do not perform,' 76
the Court concluded that Fortnightly's systems fell "on the viewer's
side of the line."1 77
The Fortnightlyholding, however, did not extend to distant signal
importation. 78 That issue came before the Court in Teleprompter
Corp. v. CBS. 79 Again the Court found no violation of the 1909 Act:
Distant signal importation was considered irrelevant to copyright
liability on the theory that cable systems remained limited to
"essentially a viewer function," 80 and thus did not "perform."'
B. The FCC and the Kama Sutra
At the same time the 1909 Act was failing to protect copyright
holders in the Supreme Court, the FCC was adopting "a veritable
Kama Sutra of regulatory positions"' 2 in an attempt to protect the
broadcasting industry from the competition of cable. 83 Copyright
holders benefited substantially, albeit indirectly, from these
regulatory efforts."4 Indeed, the Commission was to have a major impact on
the way in which the Act resolved the cable-copyright controversy. 5
1. FCC Jurisdiction
The FCC has two sources of jurisdiction 6 under the
Communications Act: 7 Title II jurisdiction over common carriers, 8 and Title III
74. See id. at 394-95; Note, Cable Television and Copyright Royalties, 83 Yale
jurisdiction over broadcasters.8 9 Cable systems are neither common
carriers nor broadcasters; 90 thus, when first faced with cable, the
Commission declined jurisdiction. 9'
In 1965, however, the Commission asserted jurisdiction over cable
systems that used microwave carriers to import distant signals. 92 The
following year, it extended its jurisdiction to all cable systems,
whether or not microwave-served.9 3 The FCC's new responsibility
was affirmed by the Supreme Court,94 which held that the
Commission has regulatory authority "reasonably ancillary to the effective
holds itself out by its business practices or is required by law to provide transmission
services to any properly qualified customer." Botein I, supra note 28, at 864; see
National Ass'n of Regulatory Util. Comm'rs v. FCC (NARUC I), 525 F.2d 630,
64042 (D.C. Cir.), cert. denied, 425 U.S. 992 (1976).
A common carrier's services need not be useful or available, in a practical sense, to
the entire public; the services may be so specialized as to be of use to only a fraction
of the total population. Id. at 641. However, a carrier that makes "individualized
decisions" as to "whether and on what terms to deal" is not a common carrier. Id.
Finally, a common carrier does not choose the material it transmits; rather, its
customers "transmit intelligence of their own design and choosing." Id. at 641 n.58
(quoting Report and Order, Docket No. 16,106, RM-139, 5 F.C.C.2d 197, 202
(1966)); see National Ass'n of Regulatory Util. Comm'rs v. FCC (NARUC II), 533
F.2d 601, 609 (D.C. Cir. 1976) (same); Report and Order, Docket No. 12,443, 26
F.C.C. 403, 427-28 (1959); Frontier Broadcasting Co. v. Collier, 24 F.C.C. 251, 254
89. 47 U.S.C. §§ 301-399 (1976). Title III is designated "Special Provisions
Relating to Radio." Id. This covers entities other than broadcasters per se. Professor
Botein breaks down Title III jurisdiction into three categories. Botein I, supra note
28, at 865. The first covers broadcasters. Id. The second involves the necessity of a
Title III license for those Title II common carriers that use over-the-air radio
transmissions. This applies, for instance, to microwave relay carriers, who as a result are
regulated under both Title II and Title III. Id. Finally, Title III jurisdiction also
extends to radio spectrum users that are neither common carriers nor broadcasters;
for example, it covers citizens band radio. Id.
90. Cable systems do not use the radio frequency spectrum; hence, they are not
covered by Title III. Report and Order, Docket No. 12,443, 26 F.C.C. 403, 429-30
(1959). Rather than permitting their subscribers to choose, cable systems themselves
choose which signals to retransmit. Id. at 427-28. Even if a cable system were to poll
its subscribers and retransmit the signals they wanted, they would not be exercising
"control" over the retransmitted material, because the minority of subscribers could
not effect their choice. Id. at 428. The choice is clearly not the subscriber's; thus,
cable systems are not common carriers for the Commission's purposes under Title II.
91. Frontier Broadcasting Co. v. Collier, 24 F.C.C. 251 (1958).
92. First Report and Order, supra note 52. The FCC predicated its jurisdiction
on a perceived need to regulate competition between the growing cable industry and
broadcasters. See id. at 713-15. See infra notes 94-95 and accompanying text.
93. Second Report and Order, supra note 18.
94. United States v. Southwestern Cable Co., 392 U.S. 157 (1968).
performance of [its] various responsibilities for the regulation of
television broadcasting." 95
2. FCC Protection of Broadcasters
Pursuant to its common carrier jurisdiction, the FCC in 1962 had
refused permission to a microwave carrier 96 to retransmit broadcast
signals, on the grounds that a local broadcaster might fold under the
competitive pressure of an importing cable system.9 7 In 1965, when
the Commission extended its jurisdiction to include microwave-served
cable systems, it promulgated two sets of complementary rules for the
broadcasters' protection. Mandatory signal carriage rules required a
cable system to carry the programming of local broadcasters, 98 while
nonduplication rules prohibited the importation of programming
duplicating that required to be carried. 99
In the following year, essentially the same rules were extended to all
cable systems,100 with the addition of a new and stringent restriction:
Cable systems proposing to import distant signals into the top 100
television markets were required to show in an evidentiary hearing
that the development of broadcasting, especially the newer UHF
stations, would not be adversely affected.' 01 This restriction resulted
in a virtual freeze on cable growth. 10 2
The FCC attempted to thaw the freeze in 1968 by adopting interim
regulations which substituted for the hearing a requirement that cable
operators obtain the "retransmission consent" of broadcasters whose
signals they wished to import. 10 3 Although only one experimental
attempt was made10 4 to gain the consent of broadcasters, the FCC
ultimately rejected this proposal as unworkable. 0 s
The FCC again attempted a regulatory alternative in 1970103-the
"'public dividend plan."10 7 This proposal involved the substitution of
local commercials in imported programming and cable support of
public broadcasting, 0 but met with the unanimous opposition of
broadcast and copyright interests.109
By the summer of 1971, the Commission had decided that none of
its three proposals was feasible." 0 Cable operators, desiring renewed
growth, were already negotiating with copyright holders, hoping to
arrive at a compromise that would permit distant signal
importation.'1 ' Soon, broadcasters joined in the discussions, and the FCC and
the White House began to mediate." 2
These negotiations resulted in the 1972 Consensus Agreement,
which effectively lifted the restrictions on cable growth." 3 The
Agreement had both regulatory and copyright components, the former
implemented by the 1972 FCC rules, and the latter by the Act." 4
requiring broadcaster consent for importation resembled copyright protection, see id.
at 433, the varying economic bases from which copyright holders and broadcasters
proceed render the proposal distinguishable from copyright protection per se. See
Property Rights Solutions, supra note 44, at 549-54. See supra note 41.
104. ConsensusAgreement, supra note 5, at 153. A second experiment was
authorized, but was terminated before any useful results were obtained. Id. n.24.
Broadcaster reactions to solicitation of consent were varied. Id. at 153. Proffered
justifications for refusing consent included the FCC's indecision about the propriety of signal
importation as a general matter and uncertainty regarding pending legislation,
judicial decisions and Commission regulations. Id.
105. Id. at 165. Why the attempt failed is less than clear. Professor Botein simply
states that "the cable operators somehow never were able to get consent." Botein II,
supra note 82, at 4. It seems likely that broadcasters, fearful of cable's competition,
simply were not going to license their broadcasts to competitors. See supra note 104.
Broadcasters were then, and remain, prohibited from rebroadcasting a work without
the permission of the original broadcaster. 47 U.S.C. § 325 (1976).
106. Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Docket No. 18,397-A, 24
F.C.C.2d 580 (1970).
107. Botein II, supra note 82, at 4.
108. ConsensusAgreement, supra note 5, at 146.
109. Id. at 154-55. The opposition resulted from the proposal's technical
complexity and its compulsory copyright licensing feature. Id. Interestingly, after 1976 a
cable system's substitution of commercials would constitute copyright infringement
under the Act. 17 U.S.C. § 111(c)(
) (Supp. V 1981). Moreover, copyright holders
eventually agreed to support compulsory licensing for cable. Consensus Agreement,
supra note 5, at 285 app. D.
110. ConsensusAgreement, supra note 5, at 164-65; Botein II, supranote 82, at 4.
111. Deregulation,supra note 21, at 612.
113. Botein II, supra note 82, at 4; Deregulation,supra note 21, at 612-13.
114. The Agreement stipulated the parties' support for a copyright revision that
would grant cable operators a compulsory license to use television broadcast signals.
The 1972 rules were of essentially three kinds. The "anti-leapfrog"
rules' 1 5 limited the distance over which a signal could be imported,
benefiting copyright holders by proscribing the nationwide
retransmission of locally licensed programming.
The signal carriage provisions divided broadcast programming into
local signals, which cable systems were required to carry,"16 and
distant signals, carriage of which was permitted" 7 but restricted to a
maximum number proportionate to the size of the local television
market."" Copyright holders derived protection from these provisions
because they limited the number of copyrighted works that could be
used without a license.
Finally, the syndicated program exclusivity" 19 and network
nonduplication120 provisions required cable operators to honor exclusive
licensing for programming obtained by a broadcaster. In particular,
syndicated exclusivity granted copyright holders the right to a cable
blackout of a program for one year after it was licensed to any
broadcaster,' 2' thus preventing non-licensed uses for a limited time.
III. THE COPYRIGHT LIABILITY OF A RBRANSMISSION CARRIER
The copyright component of the Consensus Agreement was
implemented in 1976 with the passage of the Act and its cable television
provisions. 2 2 The Act stands as a compromise, casting cable's
copyright liability almost completely in the mold of the Consensus
A. The Copyright Liability of Cable Systems
Section 111124 of the Act, governing the copyright liability of the
cable industry, has been termed "by far the longest and most technical
section of the new Copyright Act."1 25 The thrust of section 111 is the
grant to eligible cable systems of a compulsory license to carry all
signals permissible under FCC regulations, and the requirement of a
copyright royalty payment for the use of distant, non-network signals,
based on the cable systems' revenues. 126 Once calculated, the royalty is
123. CopyrightIssues: Cable Television andPerformanceRights: HearingsBefore
the Subcomm. on Courts, Civil Liberties, and the Administration of Justice of the
House Comm. on the Judiciary,96th Cong., 1st Sess. 71 (1979) (remarks of
Chairman Kastenmeier, addressing a copyright industry representative: "I give you credit
for that agreement you made with the cable industry. You brought it in, and almost
precisely we enacted the new law as you presented it to us."), quoted in
Deregulation, supra note 21, at 624 n.236.
124. 17 U.S.C. § 111 (Supp. V 1981).
125. Samuels, Copyright and the New Communications Technologies, 25 N.Y.L.
Sch. L. Rev. 905, 911 (1980).
126. Local signals need not be paid for, because their retransmission does not
damage the copyright holder. House Report, supranote 71, at 90, reprintedin 1976
U.S. Code Cong. & Ad. News at 5704. Availability of the program to the entire local
audience is assumed in the fee the local broadcaster pays for the use of the program.
Compulsory License, supra note 24, at 941. Similarly, retransmission of network
programming does not injure the copyright holder because a national audience is
assumed and the work is licensed accordingly. House Report, supra note 71, at 90,
reprintedin 1976 U.S. Code Cong. & Ad. News at 5704. Retransmission of a distant,
non-netvork signal, however, damages the copyright holder through distribution of
the program beyond the area for which it has been licensed, thereby adversely
affecting the ability of the copyright holder to exploit the work in the distant market.
Id., reprintedin 1976 U.S. Code Cong. & Ad. News at 5704-05. Cable systems must
nevertheless pay for the use of network broadcast signals, because even network
stations carry a small amount of non-network programming. Id., reprintedin 1976
U.S. Code Cong. & Ad. News at 5705. Section 111 accomplishes this by requiring
cable payments on the basis of the number of "distant signal equivalents"
retransmitted by the system. 17 U.S.C. § 111(d)(
)(B)(ii)-(iv) (Supp. V 1981). An independent
station is assigned a value of one distant signal equivalent, while network stations
count as one-quarter of a distant signal equivalent. Id. § 111(f). It is noteworthy that
even cable systems that do not import any distant signals must make a pro forma
payment of at least .5 % of subscriber revenues, "for the privilegeof further
transmitting any nonnetwork programming." Id. § lll(d)(
)(B)-(D) (emphasis added). This
payment will be applied to any royalties that may come due in the semiannual
period. Id. § 111(d)(
The same subparagraphs specify the amount of the royalty payable by a cable
operator. Id. § 111(d)(
)(B)-(D). Subparagraphs (C) and (D) apply to cable systems
having gross receipts from broadcast retransmission of less than $160,000. Id.
Subparagraph (B) applies to all remaining cable systems, and provides for a payment of
.675% of gross receipts from subscribers for the first "distant signal equivalent"
semiannually deposited with the Register of Copyrights, 2 7 whence it
is annually distributed by the Copyright Royalty Tribunal to
copyright claimants. 12 In the event of a dispute, the Tribunal is
empowered to conduct a proceeding to determine how the fees should be
distributed. 129 The Tribunal also has authority to modify the rates for
distant signal importation, in order to compensate for changes in
subscriber rates, inflation or FCC regulations. 30
Fully complied with, section ll's compulsory license provisions
discharge all copyright liability for cable systems. 131 The compulsory
license is not available, however, to retransmission carriers. 32
Neverimported, and lower payments for additional distant signal equivalents. Id. § 111
)(B). These payments were deliberately made "modest" so as not to "retard the
orderly development of the cable television industry." House Report, supra note 71,
at 91, reprinted in 1976 U.S. Code Cong. & Ad. News at 5705.
127. 17 U.S.C. § 111(d)(
)(B) (Supp. V 1981).
128. Id. § 111(d)(
129. Id. § 111(d)(
)(B). In fact, there has been considerable controversy over fee
distribution. The first disbursement was made in 1980, two years behind schedule.
Copyright Royalty Tribunal, 1978 Cable Royalty Distribution Determination, 45
Fed. Reg. 63,026 (1980). The validity of the disbursement was still being challenged
in 1982. National Ass'n of Broadcasters v. Copyright Royalty Tribunal, 675 F.2d
367, 370-71 (D.C. Cir. 1982).
130. 17 U.S.C. § 801(b)(
)(A)-(D) (Supp. V 1981). Unfortunately, this is proving
to be a cumbersome process. See Deregulation, supra note 21, at 623. The first
attempt to raise the rates was begun in January 1980. See 45 Fed. Reg. 63 (1980). It
was promptly challenged by both cable operators and copyright holders, and was
finally affirmed in 1982 with the exception of an "apparent mathematical error,"
concededly worth "millions of dollars." National Cable Television Ass'n v. Copyright
Royalty Tribunal, 689 F.2d 1077, 1091 (D.C. Cir. 1982). Cable operators have
petitioned, however, to delay the effective date of the increase. Wall St. J., Nov. 30,
1982, at 12, col. 2. Finally, the flamboyant cable entrepreneur Ted Turner
successfully lobbied the Senate to pass an amendment to an appropriations bill, Pub. L. No.
97-377, § 143, 96 Stat. 1830, 1916 (1982), blocking the Tribunal's rate increase until
the cable industry's latest challenge could be resolved. N.Y. Times, Dec. 18, 1982, at
Dl, col. 3. It is clear that the Tribunal is unlikely to be effective in compensating
copyright holders for cable's use of their product.
131. The Act is somewhat unsatisfactory in that it leaves the source of the
underlying liability of a cable operator unclear. See 2 M. Nimmer, Nimmer on Copyright
§ 8.18[B], at 8-196 to 8-197 (1982); Samuels, supra note 125, at 914. The intent of
Congress, however, was clearly to provide for liability for the retransmission, or
"secondary transmission," of a copyrighted work. 2 M. Nimmer, supra, § 8.18[B], at
8-197; see House Report, supra note 71, at 89-90, reprintedin 1976 U.S. Code Cong.
& Ad. News at 5704 (noting that failure to comply with § 111 subjects a cable system
to a suit for copyright infringement).
132. The compulsory license is available only to cable systems. 17 U.S.C.
§ 111(c)-(d) (Supp. V 1981). Although the definition of "cable system" is arguably
broad enough to include a retransmission carrier, see id. § 111(f), Congress's intent
was to make the license available only to cable systems as defined in this Note. See
House Report, supra note 71, at 88, reprintedin 1976 U.S. Code Cong. & Ad. News
at 5702-03. In any event, at present carriers are not paying any licensing fees
whatsoever. See Perle, supra note 30, at 333.
theless, an exemption from copyright liability under section 111(a)(
is available to certain carriers. 133
B. The "Passive Carrier"Exemption
1. Statutory Requirements
Under the language of section 111(a) (
),134 a carrier must meet four
discrete requirements to gain an exemption.1 35 First, the carrier may
not exercise control over the content of the primary transmission. 3
This prohibition includes editing or similar interference either with
the program itself or with advertising and station announcements.137
Second, the carrier is not permitted to control the particular
recipients of the retransmission or "secondary transmission." 138 The carrier
meets this requirement when it functions as a common carrier, 3
making its services available to all. 140
Third, the carrier's activities must consist solely of providing
communications channels for the use of others. ' 4 Thus, the exempt carrier
will not originate its own programming, or otherwise put to its own
use the communications service it provides.
Fourth, the carrier may not possess any direct or indirect control
over the selection of the primary transmission. 42 A "selecting" carrier
is subject to full copyright liability. 4 3
Under this scheme, a traditional common carrier such as AT&T is
exempt from copyright liability. Because the sender rather than the
carrier controls the content, selection and the recipients of a telephone
transmission, the telephone company does no more than provide
communications channels for the use of others. Indeed, the primary
purpfroosme ocfotphyeripgahstsilviaebcilairtyriefrorexceemrtapitnionofwitassretotraennssmuriessiAoTns&.1T44's freedom
A traditional point-to-point microwave carrier is also exempt under
the statute when the cable system using the carrier selects which signal
it wishes to import. Historically, this has been the case. 1 4 Thus,
provided the carrier does not edit the retransmission, it neither selects
nor controls the content of the primary transmission. Assuming it does
not control the recipients of the secondary transmission, it is doing no
more than providing communications channels for the use of others.
In carrying on nationwide superstation distribution, however, a
satellite resaler plays a role that is far less passive than that of its
traditional counterparts. 46 Nevertheless, a 1982 federal appellate
decision extended the passive carrier exemption to a satellite resaler. 47
In EasternMicrowave, Inc. v. Doubleday Sports, Inc., 148 the carrier
sought a declaratory judgment establishing that its microwave and
satellite retransmissions of New York Mets baseball games broadcast
over WOR-TV (New York) did not infringe Doubleday's copyright in
the broadcasts. 49 Before choosing WOR's signal for retransmission,
EMI had conducted a survey to determine the marketability of
various independent broadcast signals. 50 Thereafter, EMI conducted a
vigorous promotional campaign, marketing its choice to cable
systems.' 5 ' The district court held the exemption unavailable, on the
grounds that EMI controlled both the selection of the primary
transmission and the recipients of the secondary transmission, and had
failed to limit its activities to providing communications channels for
the use of others.152
The Second Circuit, however, reversed. 153 While acknowledging
that the choice of the WOR signal was a type of "selection," '1 4 the
court went on to hold that such a selection was not precluded by the
statute.' 5 5 The court reasoned that interpreting the Act to preclude
signal selection "would ... require that the exemption be denied to
any carrier that did not retransmit every television broadcast of every
decided a case involving satellite retransmission service. WGN Continental
Broadcasting Co. v. United Video, Inc., 685 F.2d 218 (7th Cir. 1982). In that case,
however, the carrier deleted material from the "vertical blanking interval" of the
broadcast signal. Id. at 220. The "vbi" is the interval, too brief to be perceived,
during which the electron gun that generates a television picture switches off and
returns to the top of the screen to scan a new picture. Id. at 219. The carrier's
deletion of this material was held to render the passive carrier exemption
unavailable, since the carrier "did not retransmit [the broadcaster's] signal intact." Id. at
221. The Seventh Circuit did not indicate specifically which term of the exemption
had been violated. It would seem that a carrier's failure to retransmit an intact signal
would amount to carrier control over the content of the primary transmission. See
supra note 137 and accompanying text. Apparently the Seventh Circuit believed that
this was what the carrier was doing. The court went on, however, to determine
whether the broadcaster's copyright covered the deleted "vbi" material. 685 F.2d at
221-23. Proper analysis would dictate that this determination be made before passing
on the availability of the exemption. If the "vbi" were not covered by copyright, the
carrier would not be controlling the content of the primary transmission, and hence
its failure to retransmit an intact signal would not alone be grounds for denying the
exemption. The connection between the availability of the exemption and the
question whether the "vbi" was covered by the broadcaster's copyright was made by the
district court which found, however, the exemption to be available. 523 F. Supp.
403, 413 (N.D. Ill. 1981), rev'd, 685 F.2d 218 (7th Cir. 1982).
148. 691 F.2d 125 (2d Cir. 1982), rev'g, 534 F. Supp. 533 (N.D.N.Y.), cert.
denied, 51 U.S.L.W. 3612 (U.S. 1983).
149. Id. at 126.
150. 534 F. Supp. at 537.
151. Id. at 538.
152. Id. at 537-38.
153. 691 F.2d at 133-34.
154. Id. at 130.
155. Id. at 130-31.
television station in the country." 156 The Second Circuit further found
that EMI met the remaining requirements for the exemption. 157 In
particular, it held that EMI did no more than provide
communications channels for the use of others-that is, EMI was selling only its
services, not the copyrighted Mets games. 158
The Second Circuit's holding thus amounts to a grant of immunity
to satellite resalers, who on this basis are free to select, market, and
retransmit signals from coast to coast. After EMI, neither copyright
holders nor broadcasters can license or control this activity.
In extending this immunity to satellite carriers, however, the
Second Circuit misconstrued section 111(a)(
). First, while the court's
holding that marketing and promotion do not constitute using
communications channels for one's own purposes 159 appears correct, this is
not to say that certain marketing practices cannot be evidence of such
use.6 0 The Second Circuit apparently overlooked the distinction
drawn by the district court between the marketing of a
communications service, which is permissible, and the marketing of a copyrighted
product, the broadcast signal, in which an exempt carrier may not
The court's analysis of the non-selection requirement is also
troublesome. Notwithstanding the court's assertion that such a construction
would require a carrier to retransmit all broadcast signals, 162 it would
seem that a carrier could avoid copyright liability merely by not
selecting the signal to be retransmitted. For example, if the cable
system selected the signal, and then dealt with a carrier, the selection
would be attributed to the cable system. 16 3 Similarly, RCA, from
whom EMI leased its satellite transponder, 16 4 could not be held to
156. Id. at 130.
157. Id. at 130-34.
158. Id. at 131-32 & n.15. In support of its conclusion, the court noted that EMI
transmitted nothing of its own creation, and that EMI charged cable systems a
maximum of $3000, irrespective of the number of subscribers. Id. at 131-32. The
relevance of the latter argument is questionable because EMI could obviously market
a signal in hopes of attracting more cable systems as customers, thereby putting its
communications channels to work for its own purposes.
159. Id. at 131 & n.15.
160. Evidence at trial included samples of EMI's advertising, featuring prominent
baseball motifs. See 534 F. Supp. at 538; Brief for Defendant-Appellee at 29, 691
F.2d 125 (2d Cir. 1982).
161. 534 F. Supp. at 538. The FCC, too, has expressed the view that the
marketing of a signal is inappropriate for a retransmission carrier. In authorizing the first
satellite retransmission carrier, the Commission noted that "[the carrier] expressly
disclaims any promotional activity to market particular television signals or programs
to its customers." In re Southern Satellite Sys., Inc., 62 F.C.C.2d 153, 160 (1976).
162. See supra text accompanying note 156.
163. This is generally the case with the traditional point-to-point microwave
carriers. See supra note 145 and accompanying text.
164. 691 F.2d at 128.
have "selected" WOR's signal. Assuming it could meet the other
requirements of section 111(a)(
), RCA would remain exempt
irrespective of the number of signals it carried. 16 5
Finally, although the court held that station selection "cannot be
the type [of selection] precluded by the statute," 166 it failed to provide
an alternate meaning of the word "selection." Thus, while the court
spoke of its duty to uphold statutory provisions,167 it seems to have
substantially diluted the requirements of the exemption.
2. The Legislative History of the Exemption
The section's legislative history demonstrates that a carrier's
selection and aggressive marketing of broadcast signals take it out of the
exemption. The copyright bill proposed in 1964 contained a definition
of "public performance" which arguably would have immunized even
a non-passive carrier against copyright liability. 6 This expansive
language was almost immediately deleted 16 9 on the recommendation
of the Register of Copyrights, due to fears that it "might be extended
unjustifiably to some commercial transmitters to the public." 170 Upon
the elimination of this language, the late Professor Derenberg wrote to
Congress, pointing out that without any exemption, a carrier such as
AT&T might be found liable as an infringer in cases in which it
165. The Second Circuit apparently believed that denial of the exemption to EMI
would mandate its denial to RCA also. Id. at 133 n. 19. The court, however, did not
indicate in what sense RCA would run afoul of the exemption.
166. Id. at 130.
167. Id. ("To hold that 'selection' means station selection would... emasculate
the exemption. . . with respect to intermediate carriers, in derogation of the duty of
upholding statutory provisions not contrary to reason, logic, common sense or the
168. "To perform or exhibit a work 'publicly' means:... to transmit to the public
a broadcast of any performance or exhibition otherwise than as a common carrier."
S. 3008, 88th Cong., 2d Sess. § 5(b)(
)(B) (1964), H.R. 11,947, 88th Cong., 2d Sess.
)(B) (1964), H.R. 12,354, 88th Cong., 2d Sess. § 5(b)(
)(B) (1964) (identical
bills) (emphasis added), reprintedin 2 The Kaminstein Legislative History Project
170 (A. Latman & J. Lightstone eds. 1982), and in 4 Omnibus Copyright Revision
Legislative History (1976).
169. H.R. 4347, 89th Cong., 1st Sess. § 106(b)(
)(B) (1965) (as introduced), S.
1006, 89th Cong., 1st Sess. § 106(b)(
)(B) (1965), H.R. 5680, 89th Cong., 1st Sess.
)(B) (1965), H.R. 6831, 89th Cong., 1st Sess. § 106(b)(
)(B) (1965), H.R.
6835, 89th Cong., 1st Sess. § 106(b)(
)(B) (1965) (identical bills), reprintedin 2 The
Kaminstein Legislative History Project, supra note 168, at 175, and in 4 Omnibus
Copyright Revision Legislative History (1976).
170. Supplementary Report of the Registerof Copyrights on the GeneralRevision
of the United States Copyright Law: 1965 Revision Bill, House Comm. on the
Judiciary, 89th Cong., 1st Sess. 25 (1965), reprintedin 4 Omnibus Copyright
Revision Legislative History (1976).
merely passively leased cables to cable operators for distribution of
programming to subscribers. 7 1
Thus, in 1966 a passive carrier exemption was reinstated 72 in
substantially the same form in which it exists today. 173 That nothing
esoteric was meant by the prohibition of "selection" was evidenced by
a contemporaneous House Report, 174 which simply noted that "[s]ince
community antenna systems necessarily select the primary
transmissions ... the exemption ... would in no case apply to them." 175 This
language makes obvious that "selection" simply means
"choosing"cable systems "select" which signals they want to import. 176 This
statement was accurate at the time it was made: In 1966, cable
operators were in fact the ones who did the selecting, even when
microwave carriers were used. 177
Both the language of the statute and its legislative history militate
against the conclusion that a retransmission carrier may itself select a
profitable signal and market it to cable systems without infringing
copyright. A carrier that does so is using its communications channels
for its own purposes, not solely for the use of others, as required by the
MARKET CONSIDERATIONS: POLICY, DEREGULATION
Imposition of copyright liability on retransmission carriers not
described in the passive carrier exemption is not only mandated by a
reasonable construction of the Act, but will serve important
underlying policy considerations.
A. The Philosophy of Copyright
The primary purpose of statutory copyright protection-furthering
maximum public access to an author's work-is accomplished through
its secondary purpose of rewarding the copyright holder. 17 That is,
copyright protection assures a continued output of creative works; the
output is assumed to be positively correlated with the returns provided
to copyright holders. 180
Extending the passive carrier exemption to satellite resalers will
inevitably have an adverse effect on these purposes. The compulsory
license fees paid by cable systems are inadequate to maintain a
continued supply of programming,'" and the distribution of them by the
Copyright Royalty Tribunal is invariably delayed.8 2 Challenges to
the Tribunal's rate adjustments make it likely that any adjustment
will be out of date before it is instituted.8 3 Yet as long as satellite
carriers are deemed passive and thus exempt, they remain free to
retransmit copyrighted works nationwide, subject only to the cable
systems' payment of the compulsory license fee.
wave, Inc. v. Doubleday Sports, Inc., 691 F.2d 125, 129 n.l1 (2d Cir. 1982) (quoting
H.R. Rep. No. 559, 97th Cong., 2d Sess. 4 (1982)), cert. denied, 51 U.S.L.W. 3612
(U.S. 1983), the views of one Congress as to the construction of a statute adopted
years before by another Congress have little, if any, significance. United States v.
Southwestern Cable Co:, 392 U.S. 157, 170 (1968) (quoting Rainwater v. United
States, 356 U.S. 590, 593 (1958)). Moreover, others involved in the copyright revision
have expressed an opposite view of satellite carrier liability. See HearingsBefore the
Subcomm. on Courts, Civil Liberties,and the Administrationof Justice of the House
Comm. on the Judiciary, 96th Cong., 1st Sess. 23 (1979) ("In enacting section
), Congress certainly did not consider the then unanticipated activities of
superstations and satellite relay services .... [Slection 111(a)(
) ... was intended to
insulate the telephone company only-that was really the only thought that anybody
had in mind at the time .... ") (statement of Barbara Ringer, Register of
Copyrights), quoted in Brief for Defendant-Appellee at 34-35, Eastern Microwave, Inc. v.
Doublday Sports, Inc., 691 F.2d 125 (2d Cir. 1982), cert. denied, 51 U.S.L.W. 3612
179. See, e.g., Twentieth Century Music Corp. v. Aiken, 422 U.S. 151, 156
(1975); Mazer v. Stein, 347 U.S. 201, 219 (1954); see also U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl.
180. 87 Harv. L. Rev. 665, 671-72 (1974).
181. See Compulsory License, supra note 24, at 940. See supra notes 126-30 and
accompanying text. The rates were purposely set low. See supra note 126.
182. See supra note 129 and accompanying text.
183. See supra note 130 and accompanying text.
B. The FCC-CopyrightBalance
Despite its drawbacks, the compulsory license/Copyright Royalty
Tribunal scheme is now settled law. Courts should not further
diminish copyright control and compensation by extending the passive
carrier exemption to entities not originally within its scope. It must be
remembered that the cable-copyright provisions of the Act were
designed to interact in a delicate balance with the then existing FCC
regulations. 184 Under those regulations, the number and kind of
importable signals was limited, cable operators were required to honor
exclusive licensing agreements, and cable retransmissions duplicative
of a local broadcaster's programming were prohibited. 8 5 All of these
rules worked to the benefit of copyright holders.18 6
tialSluybdseerqeugeunltatteod tthhee pcaasbslaegiendoufstthrye. AInct,a hcoownterovvere,rstihale 1F9C80Cascutibosnta,n8-7
the Commission voted four to three to eliminate the syndicated
program exclusivity rules, which had given broadcasters and copyright
holders the right to request a cable blackout of exclusively licensed
programming. 188 Also eliminated was the limit on the number of
distant signals importable. 18 9 The anti-leapfrog restrictions, limiting
the distance over which a signal could be imported, had already been
deleted in 1975.190
The elimination of these rules works to the detriment of copyright
holders, who in 1972 had supported the Act on the basis of a much
more limited cable use of broadcast material.1'9 Although copyright
issues are not within the FCC's jurisdiction, 9 2 the Commission
recognized the adverse impact of deregulation on copyright holders. ' 93 It
relied, however, on the authority of the Copyright Royalty Tribunal
to raise the compulsory license fees to provide adequate compensation
to copyright holders. 114 The Tribunal's ability to discharge this
responsibility is highly questionable. 195
In the absence of these regulations, cable operators are unrestricted
in the number of signals they may add to their retransmission roster. A
broadcaster in a market into which a given program has been or will
be imported is unlikely to purchase broadcast rights to the program,
since the audience has already been or soon will be exposed to the
program originating elsewhere. 96 Because carriers are now free to
distribute the syndicated programming of large-market independents
without the risk of forced blackouts, 197 the number of markets
copyright holders may effectively license has been sharply reduced.
Yet another barrier to the relatively uncompensated exploitation of
copyrights-the formerly high cost of nationwide broadcast
importation-fell with the advent of satellite technology and the appearance
of the superstation. 98 The cumulative effect of deregulation and
satellite technology has been a near-total loss of control by the affected
copyright holders over their works. 9 9 This loss of control will
inevitably reduce the program producers' incentive to create copyrighted
works, and by extension, the public availability of such works. 200
C. The Effects of Carrier-CopyrightLiability
Although the compulsory license scheme alone is inadequate to
compensate for the absence of these barriers, this does not lead to the
conclusion that it must be eliminated. The primary danger to the
copyright holder in television programming is superstation
distribution, which is under the sole control of the satellite resaler.
201Imposition of copyright liability on satellite carriers will neither destroy the
existing copyright scheme nor create an untenable market position for
either exempt or non-exempt carriers.
196. See supra notes 44, 66, 126, 181-83 and accompanying text.
197. This resulted from the deletion of the syndicated exclusivity rules. See supra
note 188 and accompanying text.
198. See supra notes 42, 57 and accompanying text.
199. Such a loss of control occurs in other contexts as well. One commentator
refers to technology permitting increasingly widespread dissemination of copyrighted
works as "second-order" technology, as contrasted with "first-order" technology
which results in new media for expression. Note, Toward a Unified Theory of
CopyrightInfringementfor an Advanced Technological Era, 96 Harv. L. Rev. 450,
200. Although the imposition of copyright liability on non-exempt retransmission
carriers would not necessarily result in greatly increased revenues for copyright
holders, see infra notes 208-09 and accompanying text, it would certainly restore a
measure of control by the copyright holder over copyrighted works. Gilliam v. ABC,
538 F.2d 14, 21 (2d Cir. 1976) ("[T]he ability of the copyright holder to control his
work remains paramount in our copyright law.").
201. See supra notes 42-46 and accompanying text.
1. The Survival of the Compulsory License
The concern expressed by the Second Circuit in EM120 2 that the
imposition of copyright liability on satellite resalers would effectively
"freeze" cable and thus frustrate the compulsory licensing scheme2 0 3 is
unwarranted. Concededly, the FCC attempt to require
retransmission consent for cable importation2 0 4 did little to lift the freeze
previously imposed by the Commission. 20 5 The cable industry's growth,
however, has provided it with a far better bargaining position
today.205 Moreover, while that FCC proposal imposed restrictions on
cable systems, 20 7 the imposition of copyright liability on
retransmission carriers engaging in activities taking them outside the passive
carrier exemption would not have as significant an effect on the cable
Because a cable system would remain free to import signals using
traditional carriers, no freeze on cable growth would result. A cable
system might, however, be restricted to importing signals available
via exempt carriers for the period of time necessary for the satellite
resaler to negotiate licenses with copyright holders.
Although such licenses seemed difficult to obtain during the FCC's
retransmission consent experiment fourteen years ago,20 8 the situation
today is different in two important respects. First, while it may have
been difficult for many cable systems individually to negotiate
licenses, the difficulty is obviously lessened when only the satellite
resaler must negotiate. Second, a cable system is now free to import
programming by exempt means. It would be fruitless for a copyright
holder to refuse to license a non-exempt carrier. Given the
opportunity to increase their revenues, and the alternative of no
retransmission revenue at all, copyright holders are likely to negotiate.
In such negotiations a number of factors will operate to limit the
amount of the royalty payment. First, satellite carriers are precluded
from raising the rates to their cable system customers above the ceiling
imposed in their FCC common carrier tariffs.200 Second, should
copyright holders attempt to extract a fee higher than that which the
carrier caii pay, the cable systems will turn to exempt carriers who
will pay nothing, just as they would if the copyright holders had
refused to negotiate altogether. Under these circumstances, it is
unlikely that copyright holders will refuse to negotiate or demand
Nationwide cable distribution of an independent station's signal
without satellites is improbable, because satellites are much more
cost-effective than their exempt terrestrial counterparts.2 10 In the
course of cable's growth, however, terrestrial microwave networks
serving cable systems have nevertheless expanded rapidly, facilitating
widespread access to television signals. 21 1 Copyrighted works are
distributed broadly by exempt terrestrial carriers, and nationwide by
satellite carriers. In either event, massive distribution occurs. This,
however, does not mean that the passive carrier exemption should be
extended to carriers less passive than those contemplated by the Act.
In the absence of a negotiated carrier license, cable operators should
be permitted to use only carriers traditionally considered exempt.
2. Carrier-Copyright Liability and the Marketplace
Although no cable freeze would result from recognition of the
nonexempt status of certain carriers, the video marketplace would not
remain unaffected. Cable system use of an exempt carrier would, of
course, maintain the status quo; that is, the only copyright payments
involved would flow from cable operators to the Copyright Royalty
Tribunal pursuant to the provisions of section 111.212
Cable use of a non-exempt carrier, however, would generate two
copyright royalties-a negotiated license between the copyright
holder and the carrier, and the compulsory license fee paid to the
Tribunal.21 3 Although the amount of the carrier copyright payment
will be limited by the present structure of the cable and carrier
industries,2 1 4 in the short run copyright holders will at least have
achieved a limited degree of control over and participation in the
distribution of their works.
Moreover, changes in the marketplace partly lifting the barriers to
adequate compensation of copyright holders are both appropriate and
likely to follow a judicial recognition that satellite carriers "select" the
signals they market. The FCC and the courts have indicated that
common carriers may not choose the material to be transmitted to
their customers. 21 . Continued regulation of "selecting" satellite
carriers as common carriers would thus be inappropriate. FCC
deregulation of satellite carriers would allow them to charge according to the
demand for their product, and would lift one barrier to adequate
copyright compensation. 216 Because the other barrier is maintained by
the existence of the statutory exemption for passive carriers and
compulsory license scheme, 21 7 its removal would require legislative action.
While this would certainly be desirable, the probability that it will
take place in the near future appears rather limited.2 18 Nevertheless,
213. This is appropriate, since two entities-the carrier and the cable system-are
using copyrighted works for their own purposes and profit. See Sailor Music v. The
Gap Stores, 668 F.2d 84 (2d Cir. 1981), cert. denied, 102 S. Ct. 2012 (1982). The
court held The Cap Stores liable for infringement resulting from the playing of radio
broadcasts in its stores. As a result, both the radio station and The Gap Stores will
make copyright payments, although the latter's retransmissions reach only one group
of listeners-those present in the stores. See Broadcast Music, Inc. v. United States
Shoe Corp., 678 F.2d 816 (9th Cir. 1982) (similar holding on similar facts).
214. See supra note 209 and accompanying text.
215. See, e.g., National Ass'n of Regulatory Util. Comm'rs v. FCC (NARUC II),
533 F.2d 601, 609 (D.C. Cir. 1976); Report and Order, Docket No. 12,443, 26
F.C.C. 403, 427-28 (1959). See supra note 88.
216. Were the FCC to fail to recognize the non-common carrier status of satellite
resalers, the courts could prevent the continuation of common carrier regulation. See
FCC v. Midwest Video Corp., 440 U.S. 689 (1979) (FCC may not regulate cable
systems as common carriers). Moreover, "[t]he common law definition of common
carrier is sufficiently definite as not to admit of agency discretion in the classification
of operating communications entities. A particular system is a common carrier by
virtue of its functions, rather than because it is declared to be so." National Ass'n of
Regulatory Util. Comm'rs v. FCC (NARUC I), 525 F.2d 630, 644 (D.C. Cir.), cert.
denied, 425 U.S. 992 (1976) (footnote omitted).
217. See supra pt. III.
218. Many have argued that the compulsory license scheme should be eliminated.
See Eastern Microwave, Inc. v. Doubleday Sports, Inc., 691 F.2d 125, 133 n.18 (2d
Cir. 1982), cert. denied, 51 U.S.L.W. 3612 (U.S.1983). Recent remarks of legislators
indicate, however, that this is unlikely. See id. at 129 n.11 (discussing the
continuation of the present scheme, and asserting that Congress did not intend it to be
undercut). Although Congress has expressed concern that denial of the exemption
would undermine the compulsory license, see id., such a result is improbable. See
supra notes 202-14 and accompanying text.
incomplete relief is better than no relief at all, and it would be a clear
improvement to restore even a limited degree of copyright
compensation and control to the television programming marketplace.
D. The Role of the Courts
In view of the delicate balance that was achieved in the Consensus
Agreement and the Copyright Act, courts should be reluctant to
rearrange the elements of either. That the FCC has already done So 2 19
ought to strengthen a court's resolve to tread lightly, lest an already
undermined structure collapse altogether. An exemption for satellite
retransmission, though initially expanding public access to
copyrighted works, will ultimately reduce public availability. The
reduction in the number of markets to which a program may practically be
licensed will destroy the incentive of authors to create programs.
Courts considering the copyright liability of new participants in the
cable industry should therefore strictly construe the Act. It would be
unwise to broaden an exemption from copyright liability when it
appears that no such result was intended by Congress, and it is
especially dangerous to do so when the FCC has lifted the limited
protection it had provided against widespread, relatively
uncompensated uses of copyrighted works.
The better approach would be to refuse to extend copyright
immunity to any entity not clearly entitled to it. Repairing a structure built
by painstaking compromise and partly dismantled by the FCC and
technological growth is the task of Congress. Courts should not make
it more difficult by liberal construction of exemptions and their
extension to entities not satisfying the statutory criteria.
Satellite resaler "selection" of broadcast signals is inevitable in the
current market. The need to recoup a substantial investment 220
mandates both retransmission of only the most profitable signals and their
effective marketing to as many cable systems as possible.22' In this
light, a satellite resale retransmission carrier, by selecting and
marketing a signal, should be presumed to have strayed beyond the confines
of the passive carrier exemption.
Just as such a presumption would not freeze cable growth, it need
not stifle satellite-carrier growth. The deregulation which would
follow recognition of the copyright liability of satellite carriers would
allow both the carrier and the copyright holder to charge what the
219. See supra notes 184-97 and accompanying text.
220. The cost of leasing a satellite transponder for broadcast retransmission is
approximately one million dollars annually. See In re Eastern Microwave, Inc., 70
F.C.C.2d 2195, 2197 (1979).
221. This need is even more pressing with respect to common carriers, which are
limited in what they may charge each customer. See supra note 209.
market will bear. 22 2 Even in the absence of deregulation, a copyright
holder should not be deprived of the ability to control and participate
in the profits accruing from the wholesale distribution of his works.
cCoeprytariinglhyt haonlydergsa' inpoiinnt tohfisvireewsp.2e2c3t would be significant from the
Cable television arrived over thirty years ago. Nevertheless, it
continues to present the courts with novel legal problems. The emergence
of new patterns of program distribution, notably the
satellite-distributed superstation, has further complicated the cable problem and,
together with the FCC deregulation of cable, has seriously
compromised the position which copyright holders had laboriously achieved
in the Consensus Agreement and Copyright Act of 1976.
The remedy for copyright holders need not lie in the emasculation
of the compulsory license. Rather it may be found in the strict
construction of the exemption from copyright liability on which satellite
resalers rely as they destroy program producers' markets. A strict
construction of the Act would result in the loss of this exemption to
certain carriers. Thus, while cable systems would generally remain
free to use distant broadcast signals, superstation distribution would
not proceed without more adequate copyright control and
Entertainment technology will continue to progress. Effective
resolution of the inevitable legal problems accompanying our
telecommunications future will depend on careful adherence by courts to the
letter and spirit of legislation carefully developed to guide them.
222. See supra notes 215-18 and accompanying text.
223. See supra notes 196-200 and accompanying text.
1. The term "cable television" refers to the use of coaxial cable to deliver television signals directly into subscribers' homes. American Enterprise Inst. for Public Policy Research, Deregulation of Cable Television 4 (P . MacAvoy ed. 1977 ).
2. Additional problems have arisen in connection with local franchising agreements . See Note, Cable Television: The PracticalImplications of Local Regulation and Control , 27 Drake L. Rev . 391 ( 1977 -1978) [hereinafter cited as Local Control] . Franchising issues are beyond the scope of this Note .
3. See Teleprompter Corp . v. CBS , 415 U.S. 394 ( 1974 ) ; Fortnightly Corp . v. United Artists Television, Inc., 392 U.S. 390 ( 1968 ).
4. Pub . L. No. 94 - 553 , 90 Stat. 2541 (codified at 17 U.S.C. §§ 101 - 810 (Supp. V 1981) ) . Although entitled a "revision," the Act is in fact a complete renovation . Ringer, First Thoughts on the CopyrightAct of 1976 , 22 N.Y.L. Sch. L. Rev . 477 , 479 ( 1977 ).
5. The Agreement was achieved through an industry compromise late in 1971, and was implemented in Cable Television Report and Order, Docket Nos. 18 , 397 , 18 , 397 -A, 18 , 373 , 18 , 416 , 18 , 892 , 18 , 894 , 36 F.C.C.2d 143 ( 1972 ) [hereinafter cited as Consensus Agreement]. The full text of the original agreement is appended to the Commission's Order . Id. at 284 app. D. See generally Meyer, The Featof Houdini or How the New Act Disentanglesthe CATV-Copyright Knot, 22 N.Y.L. Sch. L. Rev . 545 ( 1977 ), which discusses the cable television provisions of the new copyright law .
6. See Eastern Microwave , Inc. v. Doubleday Sports, Inc., 534 F. Supp . 533 (N.D.N .Y.), rev'd, 691 F.2d 125 ( 2d Cir . 1982 ), cert. denied, 51 U.S.L.W. 3612 (U.S. 1983 ) ; WGN Continental Broadcasting Co . v. United Video, Inc., 523 F. Supp . 403 (N.D. Ill . 1981 ), rev'd, 685 F.2d 218 ( 7th Cir . 1982 ).
7. See Eastern Microwave , Inc. v. Doubleday Sports, Inc., 534 F. Supp . 533 , 535 n.6 (N.D.N .Y.), rev'd, 691 F.2d 125 ( 2d Cir . 1982 ), cert. denied, 51 U.S.L.W. 3612 (U.S. 1983 ) ; WGN Continental Broadcasting Co . v. United Video, Inc., 523 F. Supp . 403 , 405 (N.D. Iii . 1981 ), rev'd, 685 F.2d 218 ( 7th Cir . 1982 ).
8. 17 U.S.C. § 111(a)(3) ( Supp. V 1981 ).
9. Id . See infra pt . III(B).
10. In 1966, the section was drafted in substantially the same form in which it exists today . See infra note 172 and accompanying text. The first broadcast retransmission satellite carrier was authorized ten years later . In re Southern Satellite Sys., 62 F.C.C.2d 153 ( 1976 ). This authorization occurred two months after the Act's passage.
11. See infra pt . III (B).
12. United States v. Southwestern Cable Co., 392 U.S. 157 , 162 ( 1968 ).
13. Local Control, supra note 2 , at 391.
14. New York Law School Communications Law Clinic and New York Law School Law Review, The Development of Video Technology , 25 N. Y.L. Sch. L. Rev . 789 , 793 - 94 & n. 40 ( 1980 ) [hereinafter cited as Video Development] .
15. By 1959 , 550 cable systems were serving an audience of approximately 1.5 to 2 million persons . Report and Order , Docket No. 12 , 443 , 26 F.C.C. 403 , 408 ( 1959 ).
16. See In re Intermountain Microwave, 24 F.C.C. 54 , 54 ( 1958 ).
17. United States v. Southwestern Cable Co., 392 U.S. 157 , 163 ( 1968 ).
18. By this time, 1847 communities had operating cable service . Second Report and Order , Docket Nos. 14 , 895 , 15 , 233 , 15 , 971 , 2 F.C.C.2d 725 , 738 ( 1966 ), vacated in partsub nom . Southwestern Cable Co. v. United States , 378 F.2d 118 ( 9th Cir . 1967 ), rev'd and remanded , 392 U.S. 157 ( 1968 ) [hereinafter cited as Second Report and Order].
19. Teleprompter Corp . v. CBS , 415 U.S. 394 ( 1974 ) ; Fortnightly Corp . v. United Artists Television, Inc., 392 U.S. 390 ( 1968 ).
20. The copyright revision project was begun in 1955 . Fortnightly Corp. v. United Artists Television, Inc., 392 U.S. 390 , 396 n. 17 ( 1968 ).
21. Second Report and Order, supra note 18; see Note, The FCC'sDeregulation of Cable Television: The Problem of Unfair Competition and the 1976 Copyright Act , 10 Hofstra L. Rev . 591 , 603 - 04 ( 1982 ) [hereinafter cited as Deregulation] . See infra notes 100-13 and accompanying text.
22. ConsensusAgreement, supra note 5, at 165; Deregulation,supra note 21, at 612.
23. Deregulation ,supra note 21, at 612-17.
24. Consensus Agreement, supra note 5 , at 285 app. D; see Note, Cable Television's Compulsory License: An Idea Whose Time Has Passed? , 25 N.Y.L. Sch. L. Rev . 925 , 934 ( 1980 ) [hereinafter cited as Compulsory License] .
25. In re Domestic Communications-Satellite Facilities, 35 F.C.C. 2d 844, modified in 38 F.C.C.2d 665 ( 1972 ).
26. In re Southern Satellite Sys., Inc., 62 F.C.C.2d 153 ( 1976 ).
27. The Commissioners initially expressed doubt as to how readily and effectively satellites would penetrate the specialized communications market . In re Domestic Communications-Satellite Facilities , 35 F.C.C.2d 844 , 846 , modified in other respects in 38 F.C.C.2d 665 ( 1972 ). 26 F.C.C. 403 , 409 ( 1959 ). By 1965 , 250 cable systems were microwave-served . First Report and Order , Docket Nos. 14 , 895 , 15 , 233 , 38 F.C.C. 683 , 695 ( 1965 ) [hereinafter cited as First Report and Order]. The following year, 200 more systems were utilizing microwave carriers, for a total of 450 microwave-served systems . Second Report and Order, supra note 18 , at 772.
53. In an interim development, non-common carrier microwave service was authorized by the FCC . First Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking , Docket No. 15 , 586 , 1 F.C.C.2d 897 ( 1965 ). Dubbed "Community Antenna Relay Service" (CARS), these carriers serve affiliated cable systems rather than the general public . Id. at 907; see 47 C.F.R. §§ 78 . 1 -. 115 ( 1981 ).
54. In re Southern Satellite Sys., Inc., 62 F.C.C.2d 153 ( 1976 ). Other communications satellite uses were FCC-approved in 1972 . In re Domestic Communications Satellite Facilities, 35 F.C.C. 2d 844, modified in 38 F.C.C.2d 665 ( 1972 ).
55. See In re Southern Satellite Sys., Inc., 62 F.C.C.2d 153 , 157 - 58 ( 1976 ).
56. In re Resale and Shared Use of Common Carrier Servs . & Facilities , 60 F.C.C.2d 261 , 271 ( 1976 ).
57. See Perle, supra note 30 , at 328.
58. Id . at 326. For a more detailed discussion of communications satellite technology , see Video Development, supra note 14 , at 808-12.
59. Perle , supra note 30, at 328; Video Development, supra note 14 , at 808.
60. See Perle, supra note 30 , at 327-28.
61. Video Development , supra note 14 , at 796.
62. See supra note 30.
63. See supra notes 45-46 and accompanying text.
64. See Eastern Microwave , Inc. v. Doubleday Sports, Inc., 534 F. Supp . 533 , 538 (N.D.N .Y.), rev'd on othergrounds, 691 F.2d 125 ( 2d Cir . 1982 ), cert. denied, 51 U.S.L.W. 3612 (U.S. 1983 ).
65. Id . at 537. See infra notes 150-52 , 220 - 21 and accompanying text.
66. See supra note 44, infra notes 126 , 181 - 83 , 196 - 200 and accompanying text.
67. Ch . 320 , 35 Stat . 1075 (codified as amended at 17 U.S.C. §§ 1 - 216 ( 1976 )), amended by 17 U.S.C. §§ 101 - 810 (Supp. V 1981 ).
68. Teleprompter Corp . v. CBS , 415 U.S. 394 ( 1974 ) ; Fortnightly Corp . v. United Artists Television, Inc., 392 U.S. 390 ( 1968 ).
69. See Property Rights Solutions, supra note 44 , at 527 ( stating that although never explicitly acknowledged as such, the FCC's regulatory efforts were attempts to protect property rights through prophylactic restraints); Deregulation ,supranote 21 , at 593. See infra pt . II(B).
70. Pub . L. No. 94 - 553 , § 102 , 90 Stat. 2541 , 2598 ( 1976 ).
71. H.R. Rep . No. 1476 , 94th Cong., 2d Sess . 88 - 89 ( 1976 ) [hereinafter cited as House Report] , reprintedin 1976 U.S. Code Cong. & Ad. News 5659 , 5703 , and in 17 Omnibus Copyright Revision Legislative History ( 1977 ).
72. 392 U.S. 390 ( 1968 ).
73. The most distant signal provided by Fortnightly originated 82 miles away . Id. at 392.
95. Id . at 178; see Botein I , supra note 28, at 865. This "reasonably ancillary" jurisdiction is not an expansion of Title II or Title III jurisdiction; rather, it is a grant of jurisdiction where none previously existed . Id.
96. In re Carter Mtn. Transmission Corp., 32 F.C.C. 459 ( 1962 ), aJf'd, 321 F. 2d 359 (D.C. Cir .), cert. denied, 375 U.S. 951 ( 1963 ).
97. See id. at 463-64.
98. 47 C.F.R. §§ 21 . 710 , . 712 (c) - (f), 91 . 557 , . 559 ( a ) -(d) ( 1966 ) ; see First Report and Order, supra note 52, at 742.
99. 47 C.F.R. §§ 21 . 710 , . 712 (g)- (i) , 91 . 557 , . 559 (e)-(g) ( 1966 ) ; see First Report and Order, supra note 52, at 742-43.
100. 47 C.F.R. §§ 74 . 1101 -. 1105 ( 1967 ) ; see Second Report and Order, supra note
101. 47 C.F.R. §§ 74 . 1107 , . 1109 ( 1967 ) ; see Second Report and Order, supra note 18, at 782. A "grandfather" clause provided that systems importing signals before Feb. 15, 1966 need not make the required showing, unless they proposed to begin importing a new signal . 47 C.F.R . § 74 .1107( d ) ( 1967 ) ; see Second Report and Order, supra note 18, at 784.
102. American Enterprise Inst. for Public Policy Research, supra note 1, at 26; Deregulation,supra note 21, at 604.
103. Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Inquiry, Docket No. 18 , 397 , 15 F.C.C.2d 417 ( 1968 ). The interim regulations were to be codified at 47 C.F .R. § 74 .1107( a )-(c). See 15 F.C.C.2d at 459 - 61 . Although the Commission noted that
133. 17 U.S.C. § 111(a)(3) ( Supp. V 1981 ).
134. Id . Section 111(a)(3) provides: The secondary transmission of a primary transmission embodying a performance or display of a work is not an infringement of copyright if- . ..
(3) the secondary transmission is made by any carrier who has no direct or indirect control over the content or selection of the primary transmission or over the particular recipients of the secondary transmission, and whose activities with respect to the secondary transmission consist solely of providing wires, cables, or other communications channels for the use of others: Provided, That the provisions of this clause extend only to the activities of said carrier with respect to secondary transmissions and do not exempt from liability the activities of others with respect to their own primary or secondary transmissions .
135. Id . Exempt carriers are those "that act solely as passive carriers . " House Report, supra note 71 , at 92, reprinted in 1976 U.S. Code Cong. & Ad . News at 5706. Qualifying carriers will hereinafter be referred to as "exempt" or "passive" carriers.
The statutory language makes it clear that a carrier's retransmission under circumstances not specified in the exemption constitutes copyright infringement. In this connection, the Seventh Circuit has pointed out that a carrier cannot claim copyright immunity on the grounds that it retransmits only to cable systems, and does not thereby infringe an exclusive right because it does not perform the work publicly . WGN Continental Broadcasting Co. v. United Video , Inc., 685 F.2d 218 , 220 - 21 ( 7th Cir . 1982 ); see 17 U.S.C. § 106 ( 5) (Supp. V 1981) . If retransmission carriers did not publicly perform, they would never be infringers, and could violate the terms of the exemption at will without incurring copyright liability . 685 F.2d at 221 . Moreover, as the WGN court noted, the definition of "public performance" is sufficiently broad to encompass a carrier's retransmissions to cable systems . Id.; see 17 U.S.C. § 101 ( Supp . V 1981 ) ("To perform or display a work 'publicly' means ... (2) to transmit or otherwise communicate a performance or display of the work.., to the public, by means of any device or process ....").
136. 17 U.S.C. § 111(a)(3) ( Supp. V 1981 ).
137. The legislative history is not clear about the meaning in § 111(a)(3) of "content." See House Report, supra note 71 , at 92, reprinted in 1976 U.S. Code Cong. & Ad . News at 5706 ( merely quoting the statutory language) . However, § 111 ( c )(3) provides that cable system interference with "content" is actionable, and refers to "changes, deletions, or additions" to the program or to commercial advertising and station announcements . 17 U.S.C. § 111(c)(3) ( Supp. V 1981 ).
138. 17 U.S.C. § 111(a)(3) ( Supp. V 1981 ).
139. See supra note 88.
140. Eastern Microwave , Inc. v. Doubleday Sports, Inc., 691 F.2d 125 , 131 ( 2d Cir . 1982 ), cert. denied, 51 U.S.L.W. 3612 (U.S. 1983 ). A carrier that serves only affiliated cable systems, that is, one that functions exclusively as a CARS carrier, see supra note 53, should be deemed to be exercising control over the particular recipients of the secondary transmission. Because only a common carrier does not choose the recipients of its retransmissions, Congress' use of the term "any carrier" appears anomalous . See 17 U.S.C. § 111(a)(3) ( Supp. V 1981 ).
141. 17 U.S.C. § 111(a)(3) ( Supp. V 1981 ).
142. Id .
143. But see supra note 131.
144. See infra pt . III(B) ( 2 ).
145. See Report and Order, Docket No. 12 , 443 , 26 F.C.C. 403 , 427 ( 1959 ). In authorizing the first microwave retransmission carrier in 1958, the FCC noted that the cable systems themselves would perform the off-the-air pickup of broadcast signals, while the carrier would "merely [perform] the transmission of the signals." In re Intermountain Microwave , 24 F.C.C. 54 , 54 ( 1958 ).
146. See Perle, supra note 30, at 332-33. See infra notes 149-52 and accompanying text.
147. Eastern Microwave , Inc. v. Doubleday Sports, Inc., 691 F.2d 125 ( 2d Cir . 1982 ), cert. denied, 51 U.S.L.W. 3612 (U.S. 1983 ). The Seventh Circuit has also
171. Eastern Microwave , Inc. v. Doubleday Sports, Inc., 691 F.2d 125 , 132 n. 16 ( 2d Cir . 1982 ), cert. denied, 51 U.S.L.W. 3612 (U.S. 1983 ). The EMI court mentions the Derenberg letter in pointing out that holding a satellite carrier not to "publicly perform" would not necessarily render the exemption superfluous, since there are carriers such as AT&T that unquestionably perform publicly, and for whom the exemption would remain effective . Id . It would remain true, however, that if a carrier did not publicly perform, it could violate the terms of the exemption at will and no copyright recourse could be had against it . See supra note 135.
172. H.R. 4347 , 89th Cong., 2d Sess. § 111(a)(1)(C) ( 1966 ) (as reported out by the Committee on the Judiciary), reprinted in 2 The Kaminstein Legislative History Project , supra note 168 , at 195, and in 11 Omnibus Copyright Revision Legislative History ( 1976 ).
173. Compareid . with 17 U.S.C. § 111(a)(3) ( Supp. V 1981 ).
174. H.R. Rep . No. 2237 , 89th Cong., 2d Sess . ( 1966 ), reprintedin 11 Omnibus Copyright Revision Legislative History ( 1976 ).
175. Id . at 82. Significantly, virtually identical language was used in every legislative report until 1974. See S. Rep . No. 983 , 93d Cong., 2d Sess . 131 ( 1974 ), reprinted in 13 Omnibus Copyright Revision Legislative History ( 1977 ) ; H.R. Rep . No. 83 , 90th Cong., 2d Sess . 53 ( 1967 ), reprintedin 11 Omnibus Copyright Revision Legislative History ( 1977 ). Apparently Congress had not understood the meaning of "select" to change. Later reports do little to shed light on the exemption other than clarifying that a carrier must act solely as a "passive" carrier to qualify. See S. Rep . No. 473 , 94th Cong., 1st Sess . 78 ( 1975 ), reprintedin 13 Omnibus Copyright Revision Legislative History ( 1977 ); House Report, supra note 71 , at 92, reprintedin 1976 U.S. Code Cong. & Ad . News at 5706.
176. This view was shared by the FCC . See supra note 90.
177. See supra note 145 and accompanying text .
178. 17 U.S.C. § 111(a)(3) (Supp. V 1981) . See supra pt. III(B)(1)-(2). It should also be pointed out that although a congressional committee has recently expressed a belief that satellite carriers are exempt under the present statute , see Eastern Micro-
184. House Report, supra note 71 , at 89, reprinted in 1976 U.S. Code Cong. & Ad . News at 5703. See supra notes 122-23 and accompanying text.
185. See supra notes 115-21 and accompanying text.
186. Id .
187. Deregulation ,supra note 21, at 593.
188. Report and Order , Docket Nos. 20 , 988 , Rm- 2721 , 21 , 284 , Rm- 3324 , Rm3346 , 79 F.C.C.2d 663 , 815 ( 1980 ), aff'd sub nom . Malrite T.V. v. FCC , 652 F.2d 1140 ( 2d Cir . 1981 ), cert. denied, 454 U.S. 1143 ( 1982 ). See supra note 121 and accompanying text.
189. 79 F.C.C.2d at 815. See supra notes 117-18 and accompanying text.
190. Report and Order , Docket No. 20 , 487 , 57 F.C.C.2d 625 ( 1975 ). See supra note 115 and accompanying text.
191. See supra notes 113-21 and accompanying text.
192. Second Report and Order, supra note 18, at 768.
193. See Report , Docket No. 20 , 988 , RM- 2721 , 71 F.C.C.2d 951 , 968 ( 1979 ).
194. Id .
195. See supra note 130 and accompanying text .
202. Eastern Microwave , Inc. v. Doubleday Sports, Inc., 691 F.2d 125 ( 2d Cir . 1982 ), cert. denied, 51 U.S.L.W. 3612 (U.S. 1983 ).
203. Id . at 132-33.
204. Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Inquiry, Docket No. 18 , 397 , 15 F.C.C.2d 417 ( 1968 ).
205. See ConsensusAgreement , supra note 5 , at 153-54.
206. See supra notes 23-31 and accompanying text. The increase in cable's strength is illustrated by the fact that "pay cable" distributors who formerly charged cable systems for carriage of their programming now actually pay the systems for this service . See Schwartz, supra note 28 , at C22 , col. 1. Pay cable programming is cablecast; that is, it is purchased or produced for cable origination rather than for broadcasting. It is supported by subscription fees paid in return for reception of the additional programming . See Home Box Office , Inc. v. FCC, 567 F.2d 9 , 24 (D.C. Cir .), cert. denied, 434 U.S. 829 ( 1977 ); PropertyRights Solutions, supranote 44 , at 529 n. 13.
207. Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Inquiry, Docket No. 18 , 397 , 15 F.C.C.2d 417 , 432 - 33 ( 1968 ).
208. See Consensus Agreement, supra note 5 , at 153-54.
209. At present, satellite resalers are regulated as common carriers . In re Resale and Shared Use of Common Carrier Servs. & Facilities , 60 F.C.C.2d 261 , 265 ( 1976 ). Common carriers must operate under FCC-approved tariffs . See In re Eastern Microwave, Inc., 70 F.C.C.2d 2195 , 2203 ( 1979 ). These tariffs limit, inter alia, the amount which a carrier may charge its customers . See Eastern Microwave , Inc. v. Doubleday Sports, Inc., 691 F.2d 125 , 133 ( 2d Cir . 1982 ), cert. denied, 51 U.S.L.W. 3612 (U.S. 1983 ).
210. See supra notes 42 , 57 - 58 and accompanying text.
211. One commentator argues that such terrestrial distribution is equivalent to satellite superstation retransmission . Brotman, supra note 41 , at 486 n.46.
212. See supra pt . III(A).