Posts by Art Brodsky

Who Should Censor The Internet?  A Quiz

The Internet Defense League (IDL) had its formal coming-out parties the other night. To be sure, the individual members and supporters who would respond to the "Catsignal," like Public Knowledge, would be around anyway. And some members agree on some issues but disagree on others. But the idea of a Defense League creates a little bit of buzz, which is a good thing when the odds against it and its members are so daunting in the face of some impressive arch-enemies. What's a Defense League without those who would take over the world? The Justice League of America (JLA) is constantly on guard against such threats. The Internet Defense League should be as well.

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Watch Those Commercials—Or Else

It's hard to believe these days, but there was once upon a time when TV executives didn't mind consumers taking control over TV sets. There were no lawsuits, like the ones recently filed by the TV networks against Dish for its new commercial-skipping DVR. (A court has ruled for Dish in a preliminary part of the case.)

This is what NBC said in its complaint against Dish in its May 24 lawsuit: "The U.S. broadcast networks cannot provide the news, sports and entertainment programming they have historically created and offered if the revenue-generating ads are systematically blotted out on an unauthorized basis by distributors like DISH." Keep those words in mind.

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Dutch Treat:  An Open Internet

You have to hand it to the Dutch.  On one hand, they crack down on their biggest tourist attraction – the ability of tourists to toke up legally in the famous cannabis cafes.  That’s a big business over there and of course there are protests developing, mellow ones with lots of hungry people involved, to be sure.

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From Fiddlers To Franklin:  The Showbiz Dilemma

The entertainment industry today is caught in a kind of purgatory, somewhere between Zero Mostel and Franklin Roosevelt. It's an odd place to be, and not sustainable to be there for much longer.

From Mostel, comes the line, "Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as... as... as a fiddler on the roof!" from the play, "Fiddler on the Roof." The industry respects, and clings to, its traditions. It is simply trying to scratch out a simple living without breaking its neck, and because of its traditions, the industry has more or less kept its balance for many years.

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The Failed Case For New ‘Piracy’ Laws

It's hard not to feel sorry for Al Perry these days.  As Paramount Picture's vp for worldwide content protection and outreach, he has been on the road a lot, mostly to law schools. The past few weeks, he's been to the University of Michigan, the University of North Carolina, Yale, Brooklyn Law School, the University of Virginia (UVA).  Next month, at least, he will be able to stick close to home for once, speaking to a group at UCLA.

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Public Knowledge President Joins Advisory Board of Center For Copyright Information

Gigi B. Sohn, president and CEO of Public Knowledge, has accepted an appointment to be a member of the Advisory Board of the Center for Copyright Information (CCI).  The Center was established last year by content creators and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to implement a new Copyright Alert System.

Sohn said:  “It was not an easy decision for me to join this Advisory Board.  I did so because I saw the need to be an advocate for the rights of Internet users and to provide transparency. 

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Former FCC Commissioner Copps Joins Public Knowledge Board

 

Public Knowledge President and CEO Gigi B. Sohn announced today that former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Michael Copps has joined the Public Knowledge Board of Directors.

“We are honored and thrilled that such a prominent defender of the public interest as Commissioner Copps has become a member of our Board,” Sohn said.  “We look forward to working closely with him and to learning from him.”

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Public Knowledge Disappointed With AT&T Comments on T-Mobile

The following is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and CEO of Public Knowledge:

“It was truly unfortunate that a top AT&T official blamed some layoffs at T-Mobile on the government’s blocking of AT&T’s takeover of its competitor.  T-Mobile started losing customers and distributors when the takeover started.  Their ads and marketing were frozen as the deal dragged on, and customers left.  Now they face getting those customers back and investing in their network. 

“It's also worth noting that had AT&T won, perhaps ten times as many jobs would have been lost than 1,900 announced today, as AT&T's history of layoffs after transactions has shown.  If AT&T cared about job loss, they could start replacing many of the tens of thousands of jobs they have eliminated over the last few years.”

 

 

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Public Knowledge Criticizes FCC ‘Inexcusable’ Delay On Data Caps Investigation

The following is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and CEO of Public Knowledge:

“Millions of consumers and at least two major publications have now discovered that the new iPads which went on sale come with a hidden cost – the caps on data usage which wireless carriers put on consumers.

“It’s a ridiculous situation that the carriers sell millions of these devices specifically designed to view video on one hand, while they restrict the usage of their networks for video on the other.

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Public Knowledge Commends FCC On Pro-Consumer Actions

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) at its meeting today adopted two notices of proposed rulemaking.  One would require carriers to make certain their devices operating in the 700 MHz band could be used on each other’s network.  The other would open up spectrum for Dish Network to offer a terrestrial service.

The following is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge:

“We are pleased the FCC has started down the path to help consumers by furthering competition. Consumers should be able to use expensive smartphones operating on the newest, fastest, spectrum bands on any carrier’s service, and not have to buy another phone if they change companies.

“In addition, the Commission is encouraging broadband competition by opening up terrestrial satellite spectrum for another potential competitor to help consumers."

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Merger ‘Conditions’ Can’t Fail As Big Deals Are On The Line

On any given day, on any given cable or satellite system, subscribers will see a message telling them that a favorite channel which had been in one spot on the channel lineup has been shifted to another.  It happens all the time as channels are added, subtracted or moved around.  It's not a big deal.

Unless, of course, the cable channel in question is Bloomberg Television.  Since March 2011, Bloomberg has been trying to hold the Comcast-NBCU media behemoth to the promises it made, and agreed to, in order to complete the takeover that resulted in one of the biggest media companies in history.  Comcast's power and influence belies its rankings of #66 on the Fortune 500 and #101 on the Financial Times Global 500.  The numbers don't show the power of the largest cable provider, largest high-speed Internet provider, a TV network, a movie studio and numerous cable channels all rolled into one.

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Public Knowledge Statement On Appointment of Todd Park as CTO

The following statement is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and CEO of Public Knowledge:

"We congratulate Todd Park on his appointment as the government's new Chief Technology Officer (CTO).

"The CTO has wide-ranging responsibilities, from advocating for more efficient use of technology in government, to making government more accessible, to weighing in on important tech-related policy debates.

"We welcome Mr. Park to his new job and look forward to working with him."

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Public Knowledge Pleased With FCC Actions On Verizon/Cable Deal

The Federal Communications Commission today asked Verizon and its cable industry partners for detailed information surrounding the $3.9 billion sale of spectrum held by the cable companies to Verizon and about joint marketing agreements between Verizon and the cable partners.

The following statement is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and CEO of Public Knowledge:

"We are very pleased that the Commission is following an aggressive course in asking for more information for a deal that could create a new communications cartel in this country. 

"Verizon should be required to show whether it is going to have spectrum shortages.  Comcast should be required to provide plans to prove it actually considered entering the wireless business.  All of the companies should provide full documents to show the extent of the joint marketing arrangements.

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Public Knowledge and Media Access Project Ask FTC Investigation of Music Deal

Universal Music Group's takeover of competitor EMI, along with the sale of EMI's music publishing business to Sony, have the potential to thwart innovation in digital music, drive up prices and minimize choices for consumers, Public Knowledge and Media Access Project told the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today.

In a letter to the agency, the two groups noted that the purchase would reduce the number of major record labels from four to three, giving the combined UMG/EMI company about 40 percent of sales.  Similarly, the sale of the music publishing business would "give it a significant blocking position" by allowing it to control 32 percent of publishing revenues worldwide.  A combined company would hold publishing rights to 64 of the Billboard Hot 100 titles from 2011, the groups said.

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Public Knowledge Opposes FCC ‘Reform’ Bill

The House Energy and Commerce Committee today approved legislation (HR 3309) to “reform” the methods by which the FCC can decide cases.

The following is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge:

“The ‘reform’ legislation approved this morning would make a sham out of the principles which have guided our communications laws for the past 75 years. 

“Instead of relying on a fundamental concept of the public’s interest, convenience and necessity in a rule, or in the approval of a transaction, the legislation instead defers to industry’s interest and convenience.  While there are some good features to this bill, including flexibility for commissioners to meet, overall we believe it would be a setback to the agency’s ability to carry out its mission.

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Public Knowledge Statement On Verizon/Cable Filing

Verizon and its cable partners defended their spectrum-purchase deal and accompanying cross-marketing arrangements in a filing late Friday with the FCC.

The following is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge:

"The argument from Comcast and partners that the FCC should stay out of the joint marketing deals with the country's largest cellular company is, frankly, absurd.  The cross-marketing deals are as much a part of this deal as the spectrum -- announced together in the same release, offered to other cable companies. 

"As we explained to the FCC earlier, the side agreements create a real danger that our communications markets will move from competition to collusion to cartel.  Rather than address these concerns, Verizon and its cable partners continue to withhold key parts of the agreements while insisting that the FCC has no role in approving them.

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Public Knowledge Responds To Movie Industry On DVD Copying

Public Knowledge today submitted close to 400 comments to the U.S. Copyright Office in support of PK’s petition that consumers be able to copy DVDs they lawfully own onto devices they also own.

The comments were submitted in the reply round of comments the Copyright Office seeks every three years on whether there should be exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

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Public Knowledge Applauds FCC Notice On Public Safety Wireless Cutoff

The following is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director for Public Knowledge:

“The Federal Communications Commission yesterday asked for public comment to determine the proper policy when government authorities intentionally disrupt wireless service.  The notice came about as a result of the actions on August 11, 2011 when the San Francisco-area Bay Area Rapid Transit System (BART) cut off wireless service, claiming a threat to public safety.

“We are pleased that the Commission is looking into this very important issue.  On August 29, 2011, Public Knowledge, along with Broadband Institute of California, Center for Democracy and Technology, Center for Media Justice, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Media Access Project, Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, and National Hispanic Media Coalition, asked the Commission to rule whether the action by BART authorities was legal under the Communications Act.

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Public Knowledge Questions AT&T Data Cap Plan

The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that AT&T plans the equivalent of an 800 number for wireless app developers and content providers.  Under the plan, app developers or content providers, not customers, would pay for the data used and the data would not apply to a customer’s data cap.

The story is here.

The following is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge:

 “This new plan is unfortunate because it shows how fraudulent the AT&T data cap is, and calls into question the whole rationale of the data caps.  Apparently it has nothing to do with network management.  It's a tool to get more revenue from developers and customers.

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When Telecom and Media Companies Behave Badly, Everyone Suffers

It has only been a couple of months back that AT&T gave up on its attempt to take over T-Mobile, in what would have been quite a coup for the second-largest wireless carrier to take over the fourth largest. It took all of the gumption of the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission to stop that deal in what should have been an easy call.

And yet, the idea of big companies continuing to control their markets, and control the behavior of consumers, continues to march on as if that other deal hadn’t happened. Even now, two major deals are proceeding apace, one in telecom and one in the entertainment world. Each of those has what you might call a sidekick action – not a big blockbuster deal, but just another way that companies and industries in the telecom space and the entertainment world try to impose their will on consumers while government acquiesces.

The Making Of A Cartel

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Public Knowledge Commends FCC On Cybersecurity Plan

The following is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge:

 

"FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski this morning proposed a reasonable, voluntary approach to cybersecurity that will require cooperation from Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and their customers."

 

"We were particularly pleased to see the chairman defend that the open nature of the Internet as a 'guiding principle' not to be compromised in the pursuit of tighter security.  Similarly, we applaud his strong advocacy of consumer privacy as essential to any security policy.

 

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Public Interest Groups Ask FCC To Block Verizon Deals With Cable Companies

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) should not allow Verizon to enter into a complex series of transactions with the country's largest cable companies, nine public-interest groups, led by Public Knowledge, said Tuesday.

In the filing, the groups said that Verizon's arrangements to buy spectrum from Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House, with a separate deal for Cox, would "would fundamentally alter the nature of the telecommunications world in a manner utterly contrary to that intended by the 1996 Telecommunications Act."

The groups on the filing are: Public Knowledge, Media Access Project, the New America Foundation Open Technology Initiative, Benton Foundation,1 Access Humboldt, Center for Rural Strategies, Future of Music Coalition, National Consumer Law Center, on behalf of its low-income clients, and Writers Guild of America, West

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Public Knowledge Supports Spectrum Agreement

Conferees for the Senate and House have agreed on spectrum-auction provisions of a tax bill.

The following is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge:

“We commend the negotiators from the Senate and House for coming up with a bill that will preserve the future of unlicensed spectrum while also allowing for the Federal Communications Commission to have flexibility in creating spectrum auctions to protect competition.

“We are also pleased that the conferees deleted language preventing the FCC from implementing even the modest open Internet rules for wireless services.

“We urge the full Senate and House to approve these provisions as part of the overall tax package.  We look forward to working with the Commission as they implement the legislation, to make certain spectrum policy balances innovation and competition.”

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Public Knowledge Pleased With FCC Action On VoIP Reporting


The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today extended mandatory reporting of network outages to service provided by Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service.

The following is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge:

“We are pleased the FCC has extended outage reporting requirements to VoIP.  As the Commission recognized, this reporting must be mandatory in order to collect the necessary data to analyze the outages.  At the same time, we are disappointed that this data, as with other reported outage information, will not be made public.

“As we said in our comments filed with the Open Technology Initiative last fall, the reporting burden will be minimal on VoIP providers.

“We will continue to monitor the issue of voluntary outage reporting by broadband service providers given the uncertain status of the FCC authority over broadband service.”

 

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Public Knowledge Statement on LightSquared

The FCC and NTIA determined yesterday that LightSquared service will interfere with GPS service.

The following is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge:

 "It is very unfortunate that the engineering studies did not find a clear way forward to bring much needed spectrum to the public on a wholesale basis. The number of contracts signed with LightSquared despite the doubts surrounding whether they would be able to provide service demonstrates the strong demand for some sort of non-discriminatory wholesale wireless service to support competition and innovation. While it is possible that a way forward may emerge from the comments in response to the FCC's public notice, it would appear that LightSquared will not fill this need for wholesale access any time soon.

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Public Interest Groups Call Spectrum Legislation ‘Massive Step Backwards’

Eighteen public interest and other groups today asked that Congress protect unlicensed spectrum in any agreement to provide funds for the payroll tax cut or other legislative spending.

In the letter to the conferees on the tax legislation, the groups said that the provisions now in the bill, "would be a massive step backwards in the evolution of our Nation’s wireless policy. They would lead to greater consolidation, higher consumer costs, and reduced openness in the wireless industry."

The group said there were three concerns that needed to be addressed -- that there are no safeguards for an open network, no safeguards against further industry consolidation and that the legislation would eliminate new "Super-WiFi."

A copy of the letter is here.

Those signing the letter are:

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Public Knowledge and Michael Geist Tell USTR To Keep Canada Off The Intellectual Property Watch List

Canada does not belong on the so-called "Watch List" compiled by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to single out countries deemed weak in intellectual property protection, Public Knowledge and Prof. Michael Geist said in a filing with the agency.

PK and Geist, a noted Canadian copyright authority, said in their comments in the "Special 301" proceeding that Canadian laws are sometimes stronger than those in the U.S.  According to the filing,

1. Canadian laws provide strong rights to all copyright owners, including U.S. copyright owners.

2. Canadian copyright limitations and exceptions are similar to those in the U.S. and are frequently narrower and less flexible than those in the U.S.

3. Canadian laws provide effective enforcement mechanisms.

4. Canadian authorities diligently enforce copyrights.

5. Proposed law reform in Canada would not jeopardize the adequacy of protection

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Public Knowledge Praises Eshoo/Issa Support For White Spaces

Background:  Today, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) along with 40 of their colleagues sent a letter to the House and Senate negotiators on the payroll tax bill supporting the use of unlicensed spectrum in any discussions.

 

The letter is here.

 

The following statement is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge:

 

"Rep. Eshoo and Chairman Issa and their colleagues have made a persuasive case for making certain that unlicensed spectrum is included in any larger spectrum agreements used to pay for the extension of payroll tax relief.

 

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Hollywood Can’t Handle The Truth About SOPA and PIPA

Earlier today, a most extraordinary group of people sent a letter to Capitol Hill, in the latest round of the fight over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), telling Congress it was time to reject the well-worn lobbying of the big media companies.

More than 70 grassroots activist organizations and emerging Internet companies got up the nerve to show Congress that it was time to stop fooling around with bills that helped to generate the largest online protest in recent memory.  More than 100,000 Web sites participated in the Jan. 18 blackout day.  Tens of thousands of people called and visited their Congressional representatives, all with one message: These bills are dangerous, and shouldn't be allowed to proceed.

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70 Groups Ask Congress to Halt Work On SOPA and PIPA

Approximately 70 grass-roots groups, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, human rights groups, communities of color, and Internet companies today said Congress should stop its work on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).

The letter, coordinated by Public Knowledge, said, “Now is the time for Congress to take a breath, step back, and approach the issues from a fresh perspective.”  The text of the letter is here.

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Public Knowledge Pleased With Kohl Plan For Hearing on Verizon/Cable Deal

The following is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director for Public Knowledge:

“Senate Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman Herb Kohl's statement this morning that he intends to hold a hearing on the complicated Verizon deal with the leading cable companies is most welcome.

"We are very pleased that he is doing so.  Even without the agreements between Verizon, Comcast, and the other cable operators to resell each other's services, this transaction would raise serious concerns about spectrum aggregation and the future wireless competition. But when, in addition, competitors become resellers of each others services, those charged with protecting consumers and promoting competition have a duty to take a very careful look.

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It’s Never Over For AT&T:  Sting Of ATTMobile Defeat Lingers On and On

This is a great week for taking a step back for a good look at how Washington works.  It’s also a great demonstration of that wonderful saying, “It’s never over until it’s over.  And it’s never over.”

On the menu are AT&T’s failed takeover of T-Mobile, a bill to set rules for spectrum auctions, a payroll tax bill pending in Congress, a bill to change FCC procedures, and Verizon’s planned collaboration with Comcast and other cable companies.   They all have something in common:  big companies trying to obtain their fair advantage over consumers and competitors.  In these cases, it’s generally in the wireless market.

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Public Knowledge Calls AT&T Spectrum Statements ‘Unfortunate’

The following is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director for Public Knowledge:

 

“It is unfortunate that AT&T Chairman Randall Stephenson still believes that buying out the wireless industry is the only way to improve his company’s spectrum efficiency.

 

“His comment in this morning’s earnings call that the FCC has made it clear the agency won’t allow acquisitions as a means of increasing spectrum holdings is inappropriate for two reasons. The failed acquisition of T-Mobile would have had far wider implications than simply a spectrum acquisition. It is unfortunate that AT&T thinks that the only way it can increase its spectrum holdings is to purchase a competitor.  Using its current holdings more efficiently would also go a long way to relieving the company’s purported spectrum shortage. In addition, the Commission did allow AT&T to purchase spectrum from Qualcomm. 

 

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The Web Can’t Declare Victory Just Yet—If Ever

Here is the first sentence from a news story about what’s going on in Washington:  “California's two most prominent and powerful industries -- Silicon Valley and Hollywood -- are at war in Washington.” 

 That sounds about right, given the recent turn of events over the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), both of which are now more than likely gone from the legislative calendar for this year.

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Public Knowledge Advises Movie Lobby To Stop Threatening Politicians

The following is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge:

“As support for the movie industry’s legislation has faded away over the past two days, the motion picture lobby has introduced an unfortunate tone into the discussions.  Not only has the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) accused Web sites of abusing their freedom of speech by going dark of Internet Blackout Day to demonstrate opposition to misguided legislation, now it is threatening political figures.

“It has been reported in several outlets from the Los Angeles Times to Deadline to Fox News that MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd is threatening to cut off campaign funds from President Obama and perhaps others because of their opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).

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Public Knowledge To Congress:  Start Over On Intellectual Property Bills

The following is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge:

“Everyone should be pleased that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has decided not to go ahead with a vote on the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) on Tuesday.

“At the same time, this is a wake-up call for Congress to abandon business as usual.  Simply tinkering with the details of this bill, or of its House companion, is not the way to go.  Neither is a ‘summit’ between the Big Media companies and tech companies.

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Public Knowledge Commends Verizon and Comcast For Filing Deal Details – Yet Questions Remain

The following statement is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director for Public Knowledge:

 

“We are pleased that Verizon and Comcast with its cable partners filed material today with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) explaining the details of their joint marketing and technical arrangements.

 

“This voluntary filing will eliminate a controversy that surely would have taken place had they not done so.

 

“At the same time, no one should accept the companies’ claim that the arrangement are outside of the FCC’s jurisdiction.  They clearly are.  We expect the Commission to evaluate these arrangements in the context of the spectrum deal to determine how the entire transaction will affect competition and the public interest.”

 

 

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Public Knowledge Joins Eight Others Asking For Details On Verizon-Comcast Deal

Public Knowledge was one of a group of organizations and companies which yesterday asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to require Verizon and Comcast to file more details about their proposed new business arrangements.

The letter is here.  

Verizon has agreed to pay $3.6 billion to several cable companies, led by Comcast, for spectrum those companies hold but have not developed.  In addition, there are agreements for Verizon to market cable products and to work together to develop new technology.

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How Hollywood Brought On The Web Blackout

The Web blackout protests are the clearest evidence yet that the movie lobby and its preeminent tweeter, Rupert Murdoch, have it all wrong. They don't know who their enemy is. They don't even know which battle they are supposed to be fighting. All of that makes for a messy confrontation.

The story line ginned up in coverage of the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is that the dispute is between Silicon Valley and Hollywood. Or, if you read the entertainment publications, it's between Hollywood and Silicon Valley.  No, the fight is broader.  It's between Hollywood and America.

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Public Knowledge Urges Further Consideration For Intellectual Property Legislation

 

 The following statement is attributed to Sherwin Siy, deputy legal director for Public Knowledge:

 “We were disappointed to learn the Chairman Smith said he would resume Judiciary Committee consideration of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in February.

 “It would be better for the Committee to take some time and arrive at a consensus approach to resolving the issues in SOPA that have resulted in nation-wide protests, rather than to force through a bill on which there is widespread disagreement.

 “While we eagerly await a new version of the bill, it is clear that simply tinkering around the edges will not make this legislation acceptable.”

 Note: Chairman Smith's announcement is here.

 

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Public Knowledge Defends FCC Auction Practices

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and AT&T in recent days have issued statements criticizing the Federal Communications Commission's conduct of spectrum auctions.

Chairman Upton's statement is here.

AT&T's is here.



The following statement is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge:

"It is truly unfortunate that the spectrum auction authority of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is under attack from powerful members of Congress and from a major telecommunications company.

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Public Knowledge Welcomes White House Statement On Intellectual Property Bills

The White House today responded to public petitions asking for the Administration to oppose bills the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA). The reply is here.



The following is attributed to Sherwin Siy, deputy legal director of Public Knowledge:



"The White House has made a valuable contribution to the ongoing debate over the Stop Online Piracy Act ( SOPA) in the House and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) in the Senate.

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Public Knowledge Sees Progress In Rolling Back ‘Piracy’ Bills

The following is attributed to Sherwin Siy, deputy legal director of Public Knowledge:

"It appears that lawmakers are beginning to realize how much damage their anti-'piracy' bills could cause to the Internet and to Internet-related businesses.  Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) said he would remove the highly controversial provision in the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) that would require Internet Service Providers to block access to Web sites.

"In addition, today six Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee told Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that consideration of the Senate version of the legislation, Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) should be postponed.

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Public Knowledge Continues To See Issues With Senate Internet “Piracy” Bill

Background: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) indicated today he will effectively remove from his Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) bill the controversial mandate to block access to Web sites accused of hosting infringing material.

The Leahy statement is here.

 

The following is attributed to Sherwin Siy, deputy legal director of Public Knowledge:

"We appreciate the action Chairman Leahy is taking to improve his legislation.  Even with that change, however, the bill would still be unacceptable.  The definitions in the bill are still far too sweeping, it still grants too much enforcement power to private parties,  and still confers inappropriate blanket immunity for private companies.

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Public Knowledge Site Helps Consumers Stay Under Wireless Data Caps, Avoid New Charges

Just in time for the National Football League playoffs, Public Knowledge today opened a new Website, http://www.whatismycap.org, to help consumers stay under the usage caps imposed by wireless carriers.  The site is sponsored by PK, Mozilla Foundation and the Open Source Democracy Foundation.

The National Football League (NFL) has announced it would stream this weekend's wildcard games, the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl to Verizon customers' mobile phones.  What Verizon didn't say, however, is that watching all of those games would exceed the cap on data usage the company has imposed, and would cost customers extra money.

 

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Public Knowledge Congratulates New FCC Chief of Staff

The following statement is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge:

 

"We congratulate Zach Katz on his appointment as chief of staff to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.  Zach is a diligent and dedicated defender of the public interest, and we look forward to working with him on a variety of challenging issues.

 

"We also congratulate Sherrese Smith, Josh Gottheimer, Amy Levine and Michael Steffen on their new roles and duties."

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Public Knowledge Commends Verizon On Dropping Fee

The following is attributed to Art Brodsky, communications director for Public Knowledge:



"Verizon should be commended for recognizing so quickly the mistake it made in proposing a $2 'convenience fee' for its customers who wanted to pay their bills in the same way in which they make online purchases all the time. Verizon dropped the fee a day after proposing it.



"Now attention can continue to focus on Verizon's campaign to eliminate competition for high-speed Internet access through its joint marketing deal with major cable companies. The Justice Department is right to investigate that arrangement."





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Consumers Get Glad Tidings;  Let The Trend Continue?

Treasure this past week in Washington. It's not often -- no, it never happens -- that that consumers get a multitude of good tidings from Washington. Is it too much to hope that this is the start of a trend?  Of course.  The FCC then approved AT&T's purchase of Qualcomm spectrum without strong interoperability (and poor media ownership rules, to boot.)

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Don’t Play Survivor With Verizon

If corporations were people, here’s a bit of advice:  Don’t enter into a Survivor game if Verizon is a contestant.  Verizon shows an uncanny ability to get what it wants with a minimum of fuss, even if it means cutting out erstwhile partners.

AT&T, on the other hand, is a different story.

Pick an analogy for what AT&T finds itself doing these days as its futile takeover bid for T-Mobile drags on and on.  “War of attrition” is one description. “Trench warfare” might be appropriate.  There are a couple of goodies one could drag back from the 1960s; “waste deep in big muddy” could be equally applicable here.

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Public Knowledge Urges AT&T To Abandon T-Mobile Pursuit

At a court hearing this morning, the Justice Department said it will file next Tuesday at noon a motion to stay the case or to have it withdrawn.  AT&T will have by the end of Wednesday to reply and a hearing will be held on Thursday at 2:30 p.m.

The following is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge:

“We are pleased that the Justice Department will file next week to halt the case against the AT&T takeover of T-Mobile.   Judge Ellen Huvelle was right to be skeptical about AT&T’s claims that ‘nothing has changed’ since the company withdrew its application from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

“AT&T is attempting to use the court system to force approval of the deal from the FCC and to avoid a break-up fee before the deal’s deadline next year.  As Huvelle pointed out, any concerns about timing, however, are of AT&T’s own making.

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Public Knowledge Commends Wyden-Issa Alternative To Internet-Killing IP Bill

Background: Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and several colleagues have released draft legislation to curb online copyright infringement.  Text of the draft and discussion of it is here.  

 The Twitter hash tag #open was set up to discuss the draft bill.

The following statement is attributed to Sherwin Siy, deputy legal director of Public Knowledge:

“We are very pleased that Senator Wyden, Rep. Issa and their colleagues of both parties in both the Senate and House have come up with a more reasonable approach to combating foreign copyright infringement than the bills currently before Congress.

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Public Knowledge Questions Google-Verizon Dispute Over ‘Wallet’ Application

The following statement is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge:

 

“It is unfortunate that the Federal Communications Commission chose to give wireless Internet access a second-class status to becoming an open network.

“Today’s dispute between Google and Verizon is just the type of situation that likely would not happen if it were clear that a firm ‘no discrimination’ standard were in effect for wireless services.

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Public Knowledge Names New Board Members Corbett, McLaughlin and Werbach

Public Knowledge announced today the election of three new members go the organization’s board: Maura Colleton Corbett, Andrew McLaughlin and Kevin Werbach.

Maura Colleton Corbett is the president and founder of the Glen Echo Group.  She brings 20 years of communications, public affairs and coalition building experience to the Glen Echo Group, which provides senior-level strategic counsel to clients faced with complicated issues affecting the high-technology industry including Internet policy, wireless technologies, broadband competition, deployment and applications, and content-related policy issues including privacy, security and copyright.  Corbett received the 2010 Women in Technology Leadership Award, for her demonstration of exemplary leadership skills and exceptional results in community-related work.

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Public Knowledge Sees Benefits To Cable Spectrum Sale

 

The following is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge:


"On the one hand, it is good news that Verizon is paying $3.6 billion to buy useful spectrum from the cable company consortium. Spectrum is better held in the hands of those who will use it, as opposed to those who don't.

"The transaction also shows how relatively cheaply more spectrum can be acquired by those who need it. The purchase price is about one-tenth of the amount AT&T wants to pay for T-Mobile to theoretically solve AT&T's spectrum shortage.

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What Went Wrong For AT&T

AT&T hasn’t yet formally surrendered in its campaign to pay $39 billion for T-Mobile, and may not for a while. Its top officials are still making provocative, pugnacious pronouncements, whinging about its unfair treatment at the hands of regulators, while repeating arguments that have all but been discredited and dispensing other irrelevancies.

It’s obvious to most observers that AT&T’s attempt to take over T-Mobile is all but dead. The post-mortems are starting and the question being asked is: what went wrong for AT&T?

There is a two-part answer: 1. nothing 2. everything.

Nothing (from AT&T's point of view)

 In trying to push through the takeover, AT&T did almost everything right, up until the end. They called the right plays, had the right personnel on the field and executed the game plan.

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Public Knowledge Asks Copyright Office To Allow DVD ‘Space Shifting’

Public Knowledge today recommended to the U.S. Copyright Office that consumers be given the ability to "space shift" DVDs among various devices they may own, by cracking the encryption on the DVDs.

 PK made the recommendation as part of the Copyright Office's proceeding that takes place every three years to evaluate suggested exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

The PK filing is here.

Unlike music CDs, video DVDs are usually encrypted.  It is currently a violation of the DMCA to break the encryption in order to copy the video onto another device.

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Public Knowledge Defends FCC on AT&T Takeover Report

Background:  Earlier today, AT&T chief lobbyist Jim Cicconi complained on his company's blog about the treatment the company's takeover of T-Mobile received at the FCC.    That post is here. http://attpublicpolicy.com/wireless/att-response-to-fcc-staff-report/

 The following is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge:

 

"The FCC staff report explains in meticulous detail why AT&T's claims on every issue were simply not credible.  The staff went into exhaustive analysis of AT&T's economic models, engineering plans, financial data and public statements to come up with its conclusion that the takeover is not in the public interest.

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Public Knowledge Releases Details of AT&T Lobbying, Media Campaigns

AT&T has hired three former U.S. senators, four former members of the House and dozens of staff members of current and former legislators of both parties to push its $39 billion takeover of T-Mobile, according to a review of lobbying records by Public Knowledge.

In addition, PK also released information showing AT&T has spent $40 million in advertising to push the merger between May and October.  Of that total, about $14 million was spent in June alone.  The bulk of the spending was for TV ads, much of that concentrated in Washington and New York.

The roster of the AT&T All-Star Lobbying Team is here.

A spreadsheet of the advertising data is here

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Public Knowledge Commends FCC On Release of AT&T Investigation

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) this afternoon said it would release as a staff report the Commission investigation of AT&T’s application to take over T-Mobile.  The Commission is also allowing AT&T to withdraw its application.

 The following statement is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:

 “The information that the FCC compiled over much of this year should spell the end of AT&T’s attempted takeover of T-Mobile.  The Commission was prepared to challenge on the basis of its investigation the justifications AT&T gave for the takeover, including those that the deal would somehow create tens of thousands of jobs.

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Public Knowledge and Media Access Project Accuse AT&T Of ‘Gamesmanship’ On Merger Application; Call

Public Knowledge (PK) and Media Access Project (MAP) said today that AT&T and T-Mobile were engaging in "litigation gamesmanship" in the companies' attempt to withdraw their merger application from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). 

In a filing with the FCC, the groups also said that the Commission's order designating the transaction for a formal hearing should be released because "the public deserves for the Commission’s determinations to see the light of day."

The filing is here.

The companies have said they have said the FCC has no authority to act on their withdrawal.  PK and MAP disagree.

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Public Knowledge Sees Chances of AT&T Takeover Of T-Mobile ‘Almost Gone’

 

Background: AT&T said late yesterday it would withdraw its application to take over T-Mobile from the Federal Communications Commission, while continuing to fight the antitrust case from the Justice Dept. in court. It would also take a $4 billion charge against earnings.


The following statement is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:


"After today's actions, the chances that AT&T will take over T-Mobile are almost gone. While you can never count out AT&T entirely, the fact that they pulled their FCC application speaks volumes about the company's lack of confidence that it could prove in a legal setting at the FCC the claims it spent millions of dollars to make about job creation and rural deployment of broadband, among other issues.

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Don’t Count Out AT&T—The Takeover Isn’t Dead Yet

With any other company, in any other merger, the action the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced on Tuesday would be the signal that a deal is dead. But when one of the parties involved is AT&T, the rules don't apply. To recap, on Nov. 22, the FCC announced that Chairman Julius Genachowski was going to ask the other commissioners to designate AT&T's takeover of T-Mobile for an administrative hearing. Sounds boring, no? Just some bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo, right? Yes, it is boring sounding. Yes, it is some bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo. And that's the point.

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Public Knowledge Commends FCC Chairman Genachowski For AT&T Takeover Action

The following statement is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:

"It is entirely appropriate for FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to ask his colleagues to assign the AT&T takeover of T-Mobile for an administrative hearing. This is a course the Commission has taken before in similar circumstances, and there is no reason it should not do so now.

"Chairman Genachowski is to be applauded for standing up to AT&T's lobbying machine and moving forward to a hearing designation. We hope that the other Commissioners will follow the Chairman's lead and move swiftly to vote the hearing designation order.

"Public Knowledge has said since the Department of Justice filed its suit, the law clearly requires the FCC to hold an evidentiary hearing. As we have seen, the Commission has continually asked AT&T for information about many of the company's claims that the takeover is in the public interest.

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Theme Song for SOPA:  ‘We Are The World’

In April of last year I, like many millions of people, was engaged in reading Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy, starting with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which is now being made into a film for the second time. (The Swedish version was fabulous; Hollywood's come out in December.) I had read the first two and, unusual for me, wanted to buy the third one. But I wanted to buy it in paperback to read during my commute, and not in hardback. (OK, the paperback is cheaper. Sue me.) I was dismayed to see that it wasn't available in paperback at the time I wanted to read it.

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Public Knowledge Criticizes FCC ‘Reform’ Legislation

The House Communications and Technology Subcommittee this morning approved legislation (HR 3309) to change the way the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) considers and implements new rules.

The following is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:

“The ‘reform’ legislation approved this morning by the House Communications Subcommittee would make a sham out of the principles which have guided our communications laws for the past 75 years. 

“Instead of relying on a fundamental concept of the public’s interest, convenience and necessity in a rule, or in the approval of a transaction, the legislation instead defers to industry’s interest and convenience.

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Public Knowledge Disappointed With House Intellectual Property Hearing

The House Judiciary Committee today held a hearing on HR 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). 

The following is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:

“This hearing was a great disappointment to those of us who work to achieve a balanced copyright policy.  The comments of the vast majority members of the Judiciary Committee clearly reflected the views of only one industry – the big media companies which are pushing this bill, yet another piece of legislation to impose Draconian measures on the technology sector – the fastest-growing and most productive part of our economy.

“By focusing solely on those concerns, the Committee overlooked real and substantive objections from interests ranging across the spectrum from human-rights groups to entrepreneurs to Internet engineers to civil libertarians.  No one from these communities was invited to testify today.

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About That Senate Vote On Net Neutrality

In the alternate world in which the professional Google-haters live, the Senate vote yesterday to retain the modest open Internet rules drawn up by the Federal Communications Commission should not have even been close.

After all, between Google and George Soros, public opinion is something to be shaped and melded with ease.  Policies that are drawn up by Google, for the advancement of Google are certain to gain quick and easy approval in Washington.

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Public Knowledge Skeptical of FCC’s Universal Service Plan

 The following statement is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:

 "We appreciate the effort and commitment the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) dedicated to tackling the universal service system, which is in need of serious reform.  We also appreciate that the Commission recognizes the importance of non-traditional broadband providers, such as community-based institutions, and will seek comment on how to enhance the ability of these entities to serve their local communities.

"At the same time, however, we share the concerns of other consumer organizations that the Commission's actions will lead to higher prices at a time when the average American is watching every penny. We hope that the mechanisms adopted by the Commission to prevent this prove adequate, and that this and future Commissions will have the political will to address problems that may arise.

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Public Knowledge Sees Dangers In New Intellectual Property Bill

The following statement is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:

"The new House legislation (HR 3261) is an unwarranted expansion of government power to protect one special interest.  The bill would overturn the long-accepted principles and practices of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act notice and takedown process in favor of a one-sided enforcement mechanism that is far more broad than existing law while not attempting to protect the rights of anyone accused of copyright infringement.

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Public Knowledge Notes AT&T Hypocrisy In Selling Spectrum

The following statement is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge:

 "It has recently come to our attention that AT&T is engaged in selling spectrum at a time when AT&T is telling the government and the public it needs to take over rival T-Mobile because it needs spectrum.

 "The sheer hypocrisy behind this action is almost beyond belief.  Given that the sale was publicly disclosed in July, it is unfathomable that AT&T for months has been trying to make spectrum a central reason why the $39 billion takeover of the fourth-largest national carrier is needed."

Note:  AT&T's offer to sell spectrum is here

The chart was part of an article in the law firm's June 27 bulletin, here.

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Public Knowledge Commends Copyright Office On New Priorities

The U.S. Copyright Office this morning released a report outlining its priorities and projects for the next two years.  The report is here.

The following is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:

 “Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante has produced an admirable and ambitious plan for the Copyright Office.   The plan includes items from much-needed technical upgrades for the Office to studies of emerging issues such as mass book digitization to important continuing legislative work on issues ranging from orphan works to public performances.

“We appreciate her commitment to work with a diverse group of stakeholders to fashion a balanced and reasonable copyright policy that recognize the importance of limitations and exceptions to copyright law as well as enforcement.

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Public Knowledge Congratulates AT&T On Another Great Quarter—But It’s Still Cutting Jobs


The following is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:

"This morning, top AT&T officials announced their third quarter financials, which included resurgent wired service results to go along with their wireless results.  The company also reported 13 percent increase in earnings per share.

"For the record, AT&T reports 256,210 employees, down from 267,720 a year ago.

"And this is the company that says it will create 96,000 jobs by buying out its competitor T-Mobile?  That's not likely."

Note: employment information here.

Note: The 96,000-job figure AT&T claims comes from a study that actually projects 96,000 job years -- big difference.  The study refers to "a job held for a single year," not creation of jobs.

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How The FCC Can Create Thousands Of Jobs—But Won’t

If it wanted to, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) could create tens of thousands of jobs.  But it doesn't want to.

If it wanted to, Congress could let the FCC create tens of thousands of jobs.  But Congress doesn't want to.  (In fact, Congress is contemplating actions that could thwart job creation.)

We know this because it happened in equipment, telephone and online services. Unfortunately, none of those good things will happen in the immediate future, even though the past has some lessons to teach about how an open, competitive regulatory environment can create conditions conducive to job growth.  Let's take a look at the record.

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Senate’s Choice: Big Telecom or Rural Constituents

In a few weeks, quite a few members of the United States Senate will have a choice. They either: a) make sure that their constituents, particularly those in rural areas, will have a chance to participate in a 21st century economic and educational system or b) follow rigid ideological doctrine that pays no heed to the welfare of the residents of their states. (Yes, it is a trick question.) Perhaps in a rational world, the welfare of constituents would have at least a fighting chance to intrude on the psyche of these legislators. Every elected representative should want the best technology available for his or her constituents. But as we all know, that’s not at all likely.

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Public Knowledge Statement on Signing of Anti-Counterfeiting Agreement

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) will be signed this weekend in Japan, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced today.

The following is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:

"At the time ACTA is signed, the Obama Administration should make it clear that the Agreement is consistent with, and does not change, U.S. law, particularly the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

"We believe such a statement is necessary because there are still sufficient ambiguities in some parts of the Agreement that could conflict with U.S. law.

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Public Knowledge Statement on Net Neutrality Rules

The Federal Communications Commission's Open Internet rules were published today in the Federal Register, to take effect on Nov. 20.

The following is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:

"We are pleased that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules to protect an open Internet have been published.  Although we wished they could have been stronger, we believe that the rules approved by the Commission are a good start to making certain consumers and innovators are protected from the power of large telephone and cable companies to remake the Internet to suit favored partners.  We are prepared to vigorously defend the FCC's rules in court and in Congress.

"Congress should allow the litigation to move forward to resolve intricate legal issues without political interference.

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Could #ATTMobile Trial Be Only Act I?

U.S. Dist. Judge Ellen Huvelle made it clear yesterday she will be a strict traffic cop for the Justice Department's (DoJ) challenge to AT&T's takeover of T-Mobile.  The trial will start next Feb. 13, splitting the difference between AT&T, which wanted a January start, and DoJ, which wanted March.

Regardless of how the Justice Department's case comes out, however, one valuable lesson has already become clear.  This country is only one deal away, two at most, of seeing the emergence of a new-age telecommunications industrial trust with power not seen since the old Bell System was broken up.

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Public Knowledge Says GOP Support for AT&T ‘Comes At A Price’—Company Promotes Fundraiser for Pro

The following is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:

"It is a shame even at this late date that Members of Congress are willing to endorse claims by AT&T that have been proven false.  The transaction will not help rural areas.  It will not create jobs.  There is no settlement agreement that could remedy the harms this transaction would cause.  But the situation gets even worse.

"Today's House Republican letter is yet another indication that AT&T's Congressional support for its takeover of T-Mobile comes at a price.  In this case, the total is close to $1,000,000.  That's how much the company gave to members of Congress who signed the letter and who are willing to allow their constituents to be subjected to a wireless market controlled by only two huge companies.

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Public Knowledge Applauds Cellular South Suit Against Takeover

The following is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:

"Cellular South has just shattered the myth that AT&T's takeover of T-Mobile will be good for rural America.  This company, which does business in many rural areas in the South, today filed its own suit to stop the takeover.

"Their complaint demonstrates how customers in rural areas would be put at an even more severe disadvantage should the deal go through, through higher roaming rates, less access to devices and an overall incentive and ability to exclude competitors."

Cellular South provides service in most of Mississippi, and some portions of Tennessee, Alabama, the Florida panhandle.  A copy of the complaint is here.

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Public Knowledge Pleased States Joining Suit Blocking AT&T Takeover of T-Mobile

The following is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:

"We are very pleased that that the attorneys general from seven states, including California and New York, have agreed today to join the Justice Department lawsuit that would block AT&T from taking over T-Mobile.

"Their participation is an indication that states, too, recognize the tremendous harm that this deal would cause to consumers across the country and to our economy generally, and that they do not agree with AT&T's claims of benefits from the deal, including the creation of new jobs.

The states joining the lawsuit are: New York, Washington, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

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Public Knowledge Statement on Congressional Letter regarding AT&T Takeover of T-Mobile

Earlier today, a small group of members of Congress led by Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC) sent a letter to President Obama urging that the Administration reverse course and approve the AT&T takeover of T-Mobile, arguing that the deal was needed as a boost to the economy.

The following is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:

"We thought the issues of job creation and investment had long been settled.  It is perfectly clear that AT&T's history has been to destroy jobs, not to create them.  The company has shed 10,000 jobs a year for the past ten years.  There is no reason to believe that the takeover of T-Mobile will do anything to change that dynamic.  To the contrary, T-Mobile has created jobs at the same time AT&T has cut them.  And by removing T-Mobile's investment, the amount of money spent on improving the wireless networks will less, not more.

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Public Knowledge Pleased With FCC White Spaces Testing

The following is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge:

"We are very gratified that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has started to begin testing a crucial element for the use of the "white spaces" between digital TV channels (white spaces).  The Commission said that on Sept. 19 it would begin a 45-day trial of the first of nine databases that will allow new devices using the white spaces to operate without interfering with existing broadcasters.

"It's vitally important for our economy, for innovation and for consumers that development of devices built around white spaces go forward.  This trial is an important first step to a new era of communications and other technologies.  We commend FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski for putting this process in motion."

A copy of the FCC order is here.

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AT&T Brings Out Its Dead—T-Mobile

Well, of course AT&T is pissed.  Wouldn't you be?

AT&T had every expectation that they would succeed in taking over T-Mobile.  Looking at it objectively, they were right.  But do they have to toss T-Mobile, Monty Python-like, into an early grave?

AT&T employed the same playbook that had bludgeoned the compliant Federal Communications Commission (FCC) into submission on open Internet issues. They spent millions of dollars on lobbyists.  They ginned up letters from an unsuspecting public.  They got groups normally sympathetic to Democratic causes to complain and they got lots of Democrats, many of whom received lots of campaign coin from AT&T, to object.  It worked every time, and there was no reason to think it wouldn't work this time.

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Public Knowledge Presents Eighth IP3 Awards to Wyden, Noveck, Jaszi

Public Knowledge President Gigi B. Sohn announced that three winners have been chosen for the 2011 IP3 awards.

This year, the awards will be given Sen. Ron Wyden, Beth Noveck and Peter Jaszi.  Awards are given to individuals who over the past year (or over the course of their careers) have advanced the public interest in one of the three areas of “IP” –Intellectual Property, Information Policy and Internet Protocol. The awards will be presented at a ceremony Oct. 13 in Washington, D.C. (that will also feature a roast of Public Knowledge).

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Public Knowledge Tells FCC It Should Act Now To Block AT&T Takeover of T-Mobile

Public Knowledge today followed up the decision by the U.S. Department of Justice to file a court blocking AT&T's takeover of T-Mobile by asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to use its authority under the Communications Act to reject the deal immediately.

PK said in a filing with the Commission that the FCC is required to turn down the deal under provision of the law that prohibits the agency from approving deals that reduce competition for any international phone service (Sec. 314 of the Act).

A copy of the letter is here.

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CWA Fights A Valiant Battle, But…

There are two ways to look at the Communications Workers of America (CWA) strike against Verizon, mirror images of each other.  (The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers also is striking, but CWA is the main labor voice.)

First:  Why should the striking workers have it better than everyone else?  Why should they get away with having paid-for health care and time off and all the other things that the company now wants to take away?

Second:  Why don't other workers have it as good as the striking workers?  Why don't other people have paid-for health care and time off and all the other things that Verizon now wants to take away?

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Public Knowledge Pleased With FCC Decision on Qualcomm Deal With AT&T

The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last night halted its evaluation of AT&T's $1.9 billion spectrum purchase from Qualcomm.  Bureau Chief Rick Kaplan said in a letter to the companies that deal would be considered "in a coordinated manner" with AT&T's $39 billion application to takeover competitor T-Mobile.

The FCC letter is here.

The following statement is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:

"We are pleased that the Commission has decided to consider AT&T's purchase of Qualcomm spectrum in the context of AT&T's takeover of T-Mobile.  It doesn't matter whether both transactions are in the same docket; the fact that the Bureau will consider them together in any manner is a strong statement.

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Use It vs. Lose It:  The Threat of Internet Rationing

AT&T's announcement that it would start to throttle the "heaviest users" on its wireless network is only the latest in a series of developments that place the idea of a thriving, useful Internet at risk.

No one knows why rationing schemes like data caps are triggered, what they are supposed to do, much less if they are successful.  Serious doubts have been raised whether caps are necessary at all to manage networks or to cover costs from increased Internet use.  But consumers who wants to use the Internet more are the ones who will suffer.

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Public Knowledge Praises FCC Program Carriage Rules


The following statement is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director for Public Knowledge:

"Consumers will benefit from the rules the Federal Communications Commission issued today that allow programming to continue to be carried on video systems when there is a dispute over carriage.

"Consumers could be stuck in the middle when the cable and satellite operators reach an impasse with program providers over carriage issues.  Under the rules the FCC issued, programming will continue to be available while disputes are resolved.

"We are also heartened by the Commission's proposed rules requiring video carriers, like telephone, cable and satellite companies, to deal in good faith with independent programmers.  These rules are long overdue and their absence has allowed for the potential for anticompetitive, and anti-consumer, behavior in excluding programming channels in which the operators have no stake."




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Public Knowledge Calls Fox Withdrawal from Hulu ‘Unfortunate For Consumers’

The following statement is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:

"We were disappointed to see that Fox will not let the general public have access to its TV programming on Hulu the day after shows air.  Instead, Fox will only give access to the shows to subscribers of cable and satellite services, delaying viewing for eight days for everyone else.

"This development is very unfortunate for consumers and ultimately will be self-destructive for the TV industry. Since its founding, Hulu has been a safe, legal service that allowed all consumers lawful access to TV programming.  The public, and other content providers, have taken to it in a big way.  This is the path the industry should pursue.

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Public Knowledge Criticizes New AT&T ‘Model’ for T-Mobile Takeover

AT&T is due today to submit another economic "model" to justify its $39 billion takeover of T-Mobile.  The following is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:

"It is clear that AT&T's submission of a new justification for taking over T-Mobile is exactly like the coach of a losing team calling time out so he can work the referees.  While the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) stops its merger review process to examine the new plan, AT&T will use the time to spend more millions of dollars lobbying federal, state and local officials and recruiting non-governmental groups to support what is clearly a failing action.

"Unless this new 'model' can come up with a different answer to the problem of 4-1=3, (which would inevitably be followed by 3-1=2) we're not interested.  Removing a major competitor from the national wireless market still makes no sense.

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Public Knowledge Congratulates AT&T On Financial Results, Notes More Jobs Cut

The following is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:

"We would like to congratulate AT&T on another sterling quarter.  Their revenue is up, to $31.5 billion.  Their wireless business is adding customers, growing revenue and selling phones at record levels. They are earning 41 percent on the wireless business. Even the wireline business is showing recovery.

"Just about the only part of AT&T that's not growing is the number of employees.  According to company figures, there are 13,586 fewer employees than there were in the same quarter a year ago. 

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California Union Learns AT&T Job Lesson The Hard Way

Early last year, a California senate committee held a hearing on the state of telecommunications infrastructure.  One of the witnesses asked in his written statement of Feb. 4, 2011 a question acutely relevant to today's takeover of T-Mobile by AT&T.  Here is what the witness said:



"In 2006, AT&T and Verizon promised major investment in broadband expansion, video competition, and thousands of new jobs in California if the state deregulated the video market and passed a statewide video franchise law, known by its acronym of DIVCA. Well, now its four years later, leaving the clear questions:  Where are the jobs and where is the high-speed broadband investment?"


Answering his own question, the witness supplied part of the answer:

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Public Knowledge Poll Finds Consumers Oppose AT&T Takeover of T-Mobile, Want Government Protections

A new poll released today by Public Knowledge found deep concerns about AT&T's takeover of wireless rival T-Mobile.  The poll, conducted by Anzalone Liszt Research of 800 likely voters, reported more than 80 percent of those replying had concerns, including 44 percent who were very concerned, about the combination of wireless companies.

The poll similarly found people wanted the federal government, not private Internet Service Providers (ISPs), to serve the consumer-protection function on the Internet.  The poll found that by a 27-point margin (58% to 31%), voters say that ISPs should not be allowed to police themselves when it comes to whether they are blocking or slowing down access to websites.  The poll also found substantial support for an Internet in which every person and every business has an equal opportunity to succeed.

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