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After disasters, the FCC and the American people must decide not just whether to rebuild, but also how to rebuild.
August 29 will be the 8th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a storm that left a level of devastation and death in the Gulf Coast that horrified our nation. Soon after the storm in 2005 there was an open debate about whether it was smart to rebuild in cities such as New Orleans, where the cost to build back the city’s defenses against future storms was great due to the natural terrain and the level of technology needed to do the job. Residents had to choose if they would return to their homes and invest in making their communities whole again, or simply start over in a new town where the prospects where better.
This decision is not unlike what communities faced following the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy along the New York and New Jersey coast in 2012. In both instances, residents decided that their community was “stronger than the storm” and that they would restore their communities back to a place that worked for all its people and businesses.
All of the innovation in the world does not change the fact that cable companies have the power to cap their online video rivals.
Time Warner Cable recently announced that it's cable TV subscribers can download an app onto their Xbox360 consoles. The app gives them access to a wide range of cable content through their Xbox360. But for the fact that Time Warner Cable also imposes data caps on its subscribers, this would be fantastic news.
It is great to see companies like Time Warner Cable (TWC) trying out new things. And we have pushed the FCC for years to update its rules to make it easier for all cable subscribers (and, for that matter, all other pay TV subscribers) to access the content they pay for on the devices of their choosing. So why can't we celebrate TWC's announcement? Because as the internet offers more ways for competitors to reach consumers, the way that cable companies treat the internet begins to matter more.
In the past Congress has granted certain organizations, such as the Boy Scouts of America and the Olympics special treatment when it comes to the use of names and logos. But with today's trademark laws, isn't it time to revisit the use of the law?
About a year ago, Samantha Matalong Cook and a number of her friends decided to start an organization that would teach their kids how to make, build, and hack various types of technology. They called the group "Hacker Scouts," and as they got underway, they started getting interest from thousands of parents around the country, all interested in joining or starting local chapters of their own. Soon, the Hacker Scouts applied for a trademark in their name. And since you've read the title of this post, you know where this is going.
Carriers proposing phone network transition pilot programs must explain to the Federal Communications Commission and the public how they'd like to run a trial in meaningful detail before we can even begin to consider their ideas.
Last week we talked about some key consumer protections that must be included in the FCC's pilot programs to test-run specific aspects of the phone network transition. In addition to proposing certain pilot programs itself, the FCC used its Public Notice to ask any carriers and other stakeholders that want to see other types of pilot programs submit detailed plans explaining exactly what those trials would entail.
In part, this seemed like a response to AT&T, which has been asking the FCC to let it run trials since last November but has yet to give any meaningful details about what these trials would actually look like, what information they would give us, and how they would be conducted.
A new patent application filed by Intellectual Ventures demonstrates how even simple ideas can be obscured in a patent through fancy language.
There’s a little report by the Institute for Policy Innovation entitled “Intellectual Ventures Invents Things.” It claims that Intellectual Ventures is not a patent troll, based on one patent application it filed last year.
And believe it or not, the patent application is a spinoff of Clippy of Microsoft Office fame.
The patent application is entitled “Autogenerating Video from Text,” and is Patent Application No. 2013/0188887. The application lists ten inventors, two of which are Nathan Myhrvold (CEO of IV) and Bill Gates.
So what exactly do they claim to have invented?
Here’s the full text of Claim 397 (the first claim, because they chopped out the first 396):
397. A system for converting user-selected printed text to a synthesized image sequence, comprising:
processing electronics configured to receive an image of text over a network, to translate the text of the image of text into a machine readable format, and, in response to receiving the image, to generate model information based on the text translated into the machine readable format.
Wow, that sounds fancy! Let’s break it down a little.
Any discussion must be built on facts. But the FCC has not asked the questions, and ISPs have not provided answers.
Earlier this week, the Open Internet Advisory Committee – a group formed by the FCC to provide advice about the Commission’s Open Internet Order (also known as the net neutrality order) – released its first report. The Committee examined a host of thorny issues left unresolved in the FCC’s 2010 Order. The overall, but unstated, conclusion was clear: in the almost three years since the Order, the FCC has done almost nothing to improve its understanding of the issues in question. It, and the public, is almost three years older but far from three years wiser.
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