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Today's copyright hearing will be talking about consumer expectations with media. But these expectations are more than just what we want out of commercial media; they're based upon how we own our personal property and live our lives.
Today at 1:30, the House IP Subcommittee is holding a hearing on new ways of delivering media and how consumer expectations have changed in the decades since the Copyright Act was last significantly amended.
One of the big differences is that we use things as information and not objects. Instead of having a physical photo album that I pull off a shelf and pass around to my bored friends, I move data in an image format from my camera to my computer, and from my computer to cloud storage or to my friends. Instead of carting a half-typed sheet of papers (or even a floppy disk) from home to the office, I send a text file from one computer to another.
This is not, for anyone in the 21st century, riveting stuff. It's humdrum, everyday, boring. It's just how we do things. If my friend, a semi-pro photographer, sends me a picture he took, he doesn't care that I might get it on my phone, my home computer, my laptop, or that it might display as part of a screensaver on my TV.
What have we learned from the Wikileaks reveal of the Trans-Pacific Partnership? We’ve learned that our trade negotiators are secretly sticking to an agenda that is being increasingly questioned by the public, Congress, and other branches of the Administration.
The secretive negotiations around the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement have been raising questions about what the administration is demanding other countries put into their IP laws. With the recent leak of the IP chapter via Wikileaks, one of the biggest questions is what new revelations are in the leaked text. The answer to that is either not much, or a lot, depending upon what you mean by the question.
As for the sorts of provisions the US is asking these several countries to agree to, there hasn’t been a lot of change there. It still has language that indicates that even temporary electronic copies—like the copy you’re making of this post on your computer just by reading it, or the copy your computer makes of an mp3 whenever you play it—are presumptively illegal. It still contains language that can make it harder for countries to create new types of exceptions and limitations to copyright. It still limits the types of exceptions countries can make for laws enforcing DRM. It still pushes for minimum statutory damages for copyright infringement. And so on and so forth.
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Rockefeller’s bill takes an ambitious approach toward the video marketplace of the future.
Tuesday, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (S-WV) introduced the Consumer Choice in Online Video Act, which seeks to address the anticompetitive and anti-consumer forces at work in today’s video marketplace. This bill would prevent cable providers from engaging in discriminatory measures against online video operators and would ensure that online video providers can access valuable programming. As we’ve said numerous times before, the current state of the video marketplace is outdated and in need of reform.You’ve got incumbent distributors, broadcasters, cable providers, network affiliates, with relationships locked into place and codified in US law. This arrangement benefits the incumbents but does nothing for innovation, competition, or consumer choice.Tech companies tease the marketplace with hints of new video devices on the horizon but time and again consumers are left empty-handed and wanting. Technology isn’t what’s holding back the marketplace, the outdated video policies are.
We should call for changes so that patent assertion entities (patent trolls) can’t threaten and extract money from small businesses and individuals.
Our Patent Reform Project has been busy lately. Among other things, we’ve filed two Supreme Court amicus briefs, submitted comments to the USPTO, and written several op-eds, in just four months. And now, Charles, our Patent Reform Project’s director, will be testifying tomorrow in the House’s Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on “The Impact of Patent Assertion Entities on Innovation and the Economy.”
As Charles will discuss then, many entities, including so-called patent assertion entities (PAEs) and “patent trolls,” abuse demand letters to the detriment of the economy. To repair this part of the patent system, knowing more about demand letter senders, their patents, and their demand letters would be incredibly useful, not only for policymakers but for the broader public as well.
Back when former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski announced his departure, we at Public Knowledge had a few things we said we wanted to see in his replacement. While it’s obviously way too early to judge incoming Chairman Tom Wheeler, it’s worth noting that the initial signs look favorable – and give us some clues as to where Wheeler will want to go in his first few months.
Let me first start out by once again applauding former Chairwoman (now back to Commissioner) Clyburn for what everyone agrees was an astoundingly productive tenure as Chair. Over the course of six months, Clyburn tackled such topics as clarifying consumer privacy rights around mobile phone data, protecting the families of the incarcerated from rip-off phone rates, scheduling the FCC’s first major spectrum auction since 2008, and a number of other important issues.
It’s like getting Al Capone for tax evasion. The CIA and AT&T figured out how to get around legal restrictions on giving the CIA access to domestic phone call information, but in doing so they violated a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rule that protects you against telemarketing.
According to this story in the New York Times, the CIA paid AT&T to provide them with information on calls passing through its international telephone system. Because federal law prevents the CIA from spying inside the United States, the CIA could not legally get info on calls terminating in the U.S. But, of course, calls from suspected foreign terrorists (aka “anyone outside the United States”) that terminate in the United States are the most interesting to the CIA.
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