Issues and Policy

DiMA supports legislation and regulations that promote fair competition, fair royalties, business efficiency and innovation, and opposes legislation that advantages incumbent media providers, unduly burdens innovators (often by applying old solutions to new technologies and business models), or that would protect incumbents against disruptive business models without regard to consumer welfare.

DiMA testifies in Congress, promotes member company executives as Congressional witnesses, and lobbies actively in support of favorable legislation or against unfavorable legislation.  When it is helpful DiMA coordinates with like-minded industry organizations to make very broad-based appeals, including technology-focused associations, media associations and creative/copyright industries.

DiMA files regulatory comments and appears in government agency proceedings, and frequently files amicus briefs when courts are considering important legal principles.

Copyright and Royalties

Innovative online media businesses have been hampered by the outdated Copyright Act, which was originally written in 1909.  Applying old laws to dynamic new industries can be as challenging as fitting a round peg into a square hole.  Accordingly, DiMA is focused on modernizing the Copyright Act by addressing statutory inequities or longstanding regulatory practices that simply do not work well with new technology and new business models.  Specific DiMA activities include:

Consumer Protection

Both industry and government have considerable roles in ensuring that consumers receive fair value when acquiring media and are provided clear notice prior to accessing content that they may not deem appropriate for themselves or their family.  In recent times online media services have had to address consumer protection issues in two contexts:  (a) whether consumers understand the limitations imposed by digital rights management software that is generally used to enforce digital business rules; and (b) whether digital services are adequately informing consumers or otherwise protecting them from inadvertently accessing, e.g., violent or mature content.

Congress, the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission have actively engaged in these issues.  In each forum DiMA has played an important role to ensure that government looks first to individuals and industry for solutions, and that the solutions government promotes are technologically- and financially rational in the context of the concerns being addressed.

Competition and Network Neutrality

All media services compete for individual consumers’ attention and for advertiser and subscriber dollars.  As a result, many DiMA issues (e.g., copyright/royalty parity) have a competition policy component.  Net neutrality, however, is solely a competitive issue, as independent media services are competing against network infrastructure providers (e.g., cable and wireline telephone companies) that offer their own media services, plan to offer - or partner closely with others who offer - media services on their own networks.

Digital Taxation

Over several decades states and localities have imposed taxes on a variety of communications services, including telephones, cell phones, and cable and satellite television.  Beginning in 2007, state governments began introducing (and in some cases, enacting) legislation to tax digital content delivered over the Internet.  As some “deliveries” are like radio and television (delivered for free and paid by advertising); others are subscription deliveries that offer consumers’ access for limited time; and still others are downloads in the nature of a sale, it is not surprising that the state bills impose a variety of taxes, do not always fit well with affected business and often are discriminatory.  It can also uncertain whether taxes are being imposed on media service providers, telecommunications companies, or even on both.  And a third issue is whether states are authorized to impose taxes on remote sellers such as catalog companies, or in this on case Internet media retailers and services.

International Policy

Digital media knows no boundaries, so DiMA works with organizations that represent media services in other markets to ensure that international organizations such as the World Intellectual Property Organization and the World Trade Organization promote fair digital competition and rights administration simplicity, which benefit media innovators and consumers globally.