- Act Now
- Open Internet
- Promoting Creativity
- Open & Accessible Technology
Today, Public Knowledge joins a nationwide day of action calling for reform of the Electronic Communications Act ("ECPA"). Please sign a White House petition to improve legal protections of our communications.
Have you ever wondered what, if anything, protects the content of your emails from prying government eyes? Well, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act ("ECPA") is supposed to do that. But there’s a big problem with ECPA: it was written in the 1980s and has never been updated. As we all know, there have been some major changes to the way we communicate in the last 25 years. Those changes, in combination with an outdated law, have created some troubling deficits in privacy protection.
We should give pre-1972 sound recordings federal copyright protection that preempts state law. In the process, let's take a fresh look at our current copyright system and address some of the biggest problems.
In an op-ed published in USA Today on Monday, U.S. House Representative John Conyers of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, argued that federal copyright protection should be extended to pre-1972 sound recordings, which at present only receive copyright protection under state law. Extending federal copyright to pre-1972 sound recordings makes a lot of sense, but not for the exact reasons Conyers articulates.
Chairman Wheeler endorsed both two-sided markets and net neutrality. There seems to be a conflict.
Yesterday, new FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler delivered his first formal public address. After a prepared speech that explained his regulatory approach, he moved to a Q&A session. In that session, he appeared to endorse the opposite of net neutrality: allowing ISPs to charge websites and services in order to reach that ISP’s subscribers. In other words, giving ISPs the power to pick winners and losers online. This endorsement was all the more unexpected because it followed his explicit endorsement of "net neutrality" and a speech that touted the FCC's role in protecting the public interest. What is going on here?
The "Consumer Choice in Video Devices Act" Would Move Set-Top Competition Backward
November has been a promising month for the prospect of reform in the video marketplace, with Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller's (D-WV) ambitious Consumer Choice in Online Video Act. While we're eager to see how Congress responds to Chairman Rockefeller's bill, we're also keeping an eye on video-related activity on the other side of the Hill.
Back in September, Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH), the Vice-Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology introduced H.R. 3196, the Consumer Choice in Video Devices Act, a bill that would amend the Communications Act to restrict FCC authority for adopting certain rules or policies relating to multichannel video programming distributors (such as cable operators). In particular, this bill targets Section 629 of the Telecom Act and would end the "integration ban," an FCC requirement that cable operator-supplied set-top boxes use some of the same technology--currently CableCARD--that third-party device makers use.
Over the past week, much has been written about GoldieBlox's parody of the Beastie Boys song "Girls." For those who haven't heard, GoldieBlox, maker of toy building sets targeted at girls, made a video promoting their product, which went viral (as of this blog post, it has over 8 million views on YouTube). Beastie Boys found out, they cried copyright infringement, and GoldieBlox went to court to ask the court to declare that this use of "Girls" is fair use, and therefore not copyright infringement.
Yesterday we recapped the transition of the phone network thus far and touched on what to expect. Today we discuss the technical trials and what happens next.
For those unfamiliar with the terminology, a “wire center” is the place where all the wires for telecommunications service in a specific area come together. That’s not just all the residential subscribers on the AT&T system. It’s the place where AT&T exchanges traffic with the other providers (such as the local cable operator and whoever offers cell service), the 9-1-1 access point, and the source of “special access” circuits for enterprise customers and other carriers.
The argument about trials has unfortunately broken down largely into two sides. AT&T and its supporters, who want to see AT&T convert a wire center under terms defined by AT&T, and everyone else, who thinks we don’t need trials at all. Public Knowledge supports well constructed trials that actually further the debate. We’ve written at length on our problems with the current AT&T proposal and what we’d like to see in a real set of technical trials.
|STAY CONNECTED, JOIN OUR MAILING LIST|