Posts by Bartees Cox Jr.

Public Knowledge Touts Title II as only option for Net Neutrality in FCC Comments

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Today, Public Knowledge joins millions of people from across the country in filing comments at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on the subject of net neutrality. Public Knowledge's comments reflects the concerns of many Americans, and call on the Commission to enact net neutrality rules that stop paid prioritization and the prospect of a two tiered internet by reclassifying the internet as a Title II service.

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Public Knowledge Files Testimony in House Judiciary Copyright Reform Hearing

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Today the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet is holding a hearing entitled "Moral Rights, Termination Rights, Resale Royalty, and Copyright Term." The copyright termination right allows artists to reclaim their rights 35 years after selling or licensing them away. Public Knowledge filed written testimony discussing the importance of copyright termination and limited copyright terms.

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Public Knowledge Files Comments to Stop High Data Roaming Prices and Bandwidth Caps

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Yesterday, Public Knowledge, the Open Technology Institute at New America Foundation, the Benton Foundation, and Common Cause filed comments at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in support of T-Mobile's petition for expedited declaratory ruling. The comments uphold T-mobile's claim that the Commission's framework has failed to fix the problems within the data roaming market. Now the problems with data roaming prices are beginning to leak into the services that T-Mobile offers its consumers.

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Cell Phone Unlocking Bill Passes Out of Senate Judiciary Committee

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Earlier today, the Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), approved S 517, the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act. The bill allows consumers to "unlock" their cell phones so they can take a phone with them from one service provider to another.

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Senators Leahy and Grassley Move Forward on Cell Phone Unlocking Bill

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Today, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) moved forward on new language for the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act. The updated version of the bill restores the exemption granted by the Copyright Office under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) allowing customers to "unlock" their cell phones.

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Democrats Introduce Bill to Ban Internet Fast Lanes

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Today, Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Senator Patrick Leahy ( D-VT) introduced the Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act to stop paid prioritization from making its way into the Federal Communication Commission's new neutrality rules. Paid prioritization would allow ISPs to split their internet services into tiers with a single tier reserved for those who could afford to pay extra for higher speeds.

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Public Knowledge and Rep Zoe Lofgren to Host DMCA Reform panel on Capitol Hill

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Please join Public Knowledge and an expert panel, featuring Corynne Mcsherry of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Blake Reid of the University of Colorado Law School, and Kyle Weins of right to repair group iFixit, in a discussion of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The panel will discuss problems the DMCA gives consumers, innovators, researchers, farmers, and even disabled Americans.

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Letter Warns Senate of Adverse Implications in DOTCOM Act

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Today, a letter was sent to the Senate supporting the National Telecommunications Information Administration's (NTIA) intent to shift the stewardship of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions to an international multi-stakeholder model of internet governance. The letter also voices concerns with the House of Representative's approval of the Shimkus (R-KS) amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which reflects the language of the Domain Openness Through Continues Oversight Matters Act (DOTCOM Act) of 2014.

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Public Knowledge to Testify in First Sale Hearing

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On Monday Public Knowledge's Vice President of Legal Affairs, Sherwin Siy, will testify before the House Judiciary Committee in New York in the hearing titled, "First Sale under Title 17." Siy will explain that the first sale doctrine is a fundamental principle that balances people's basic rights to their personal property with authors' rights to their intellectual property.

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Pre-1972 Recordings Need Balanced Copyright protection

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Today, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and Rep. George Holding (R-NC) introduced the Respecting Senior Performers as Essential Cultural Treasures Act (Respect Act). The Respect Act would require webcasters to pay statutory license fees for pre-1972 sound recordings as a condition of using the statutory license for sound recordings made in 1972 and later, which receive federal copyright protection. The bill would not preempt the patchwork of existing state law protections.

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FCC Adopts Balanced Spectrum Plan by Promoting Unlicensed Spectrum

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Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a plan for the upcoming "Incentive Auction" of television spectrum, under which broadcasters willing to give up some or all of their spectrum rights for auction will receive a portion of the auction proceeds. The incentive auction includes something called a "band plan," that has implications for the unlicensed use of spectrum

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Consumer Advocates Ask the FCC to Protect the Network Compact

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Today, Public Knowledge, The Utility Reform Network (TURN), and ten other public interest groups and state consumer advocates asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to investigate reports indicating carriers are forcing customers off of traditional copper-based phone service. In their letter, the groups list examples of complaints from California, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and D.C., where customers say they have been told their copper lines will not be repaired and have been pressured to move onto fiber-based or wireless service without notice of the differences between those products and the traditional copper-based service they have relied on.

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FCC Upholds Principles Based Framework in IP Transition

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Today the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Wireline Competition Bureau Chief reaffirmed in a blog post the FCC's commitment to ensuring the phone network's transition to new technologies is guided by the fundamental values of public safety, competition, consumer protection, and universal service. The post specifically noted that new networks may offer better speeds or lower costs, but fail to work during power outages or support features like medical alerts, security systems, credit card processing, and faxes. Finally, the blog post confirmed the Commission's commitment to receiving public comment on network changes.

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Public Knowledge Reflects on NETmundial

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NETmundial's global gathering on Internet governance marked a historical moment. Brazil aligned itself not just rhetorically, but politically with those pushing for an open, neutral, and free Internet. The signing of the landmark Marco Civil bill at the opening session, after years of mobilization and multi-stakeholder engagement, should serve as an example for civil society and inspiration for governments around the world.

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FCC To Allow Commercial Discrimination on the Internet

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According to press reports the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will propose new net neutrality rules this Thursday. It's been reported that the updated rules will prevent internet service providers (ISPs) from discriminating or blocking websites. However, ISPs would be able to charge companies for preferential treatment if the ISPs' discrimination is commercially reasonable.

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FCC Phases in Rate Floor Increase and Proposes Increased Broadband Speed Requirements

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Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it would delay implementing an increase in the rate floor for high cost area funding until January 2015. At that point the The FCC will increase the rate floor incrementally instead of increasing the rate floor from $14 to $20.46 for phone service. The FCC will also conduct a new urban rate survey, and it will not apply the rate floor increase for lines with customers using the Lifeline program.

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Public Knowledge White Paper Highlights the Problems Within the Patent System

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Yesterday, Charles Duan, Director of Public Knowledge’s Patent Reform Project, released a white paper that details our goals for patent reform. It’s clear that the patent system is an important motivator for new technologies. But there are many loopholes in the system, making it a hot spot for exploitation and abuse. This harms new technologies rather than promoting them. In the paper, Duan presents five areas that people should look to when talking about potential reforms.

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Public Knowledge to Testify in Senate STELA Hearing

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John Bergmayer, Senior Staff Attorney at Public Knowledge, will testify tomorrow before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the hearing titled, "Reauthorization of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA)." Bergmayer's testimony will recommend that Congress reauthorize STELA to ensure that customers can continue to receive the programming they pay for.

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Public Knowledge Explains how Musicians Can Take Their Copyrights Back from Labels in White Paper

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Today, Public Knowledge's Senior Staff Attorney Jodie Griffin released "Rewind, Reclaim: Copyright Termination and the Music Business." The paper is a much needed explanation on the state of copyright termination and how it impacts the artists it should protect. The report highlights the importance of the reclamation right, which gives artists the right to tear up their copyright transfers or licenses after 35 years.

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Public Knowledge Applauds GAO Report on Federal Broadband Access and Small Business

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Today, Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), Democratic Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Ranking Member Anna Eshoo (D-CA) released a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report showing a strong connection between federally funded high-speed internet access and the success of small businesses. This report shows that when there are opportunities for fast and reliable internet connections, small businesses have better chances to succeed.

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Public Interest Groups Petition FCC to Protect Phone Customers’ Private Records

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Today, Public Knowledge filed a Petition for Declaratory Ruling to ask the Federal Communications Commission to declare that phone carriers are running afoul of the Communications Act when they share customers’ call logs with third parties, even if they first purge those call logs of certain personal details such as names and phone numbers. The Communications Act severely restricts how carriers may use or sell sensitive information known as customer proprietary network information (CPNI) and it's important that the FCC acknowledge and take steps to stop this from happening in the future.

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The Two Sides of Intellectual Ventures

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Breaking down the two completely opposing sides of Intellectual Ventures and showing once again that we need patent reform.


What is Intellectual Ventures? The stories have been so divergent that people might as well be talking about two different companies.  

Intellectual Ventures describes themselves as an “invention capital company.” On their website they write, “Like a venture capitalist, part of our business is focused on funding the creation of new ideas.” Why? “We believe that ideas are valuable. We’re creating a market where patents have value.”

Journalists, the tech community, and stakeholders feel otherwise. As Mike Masnick said while summing up an article by Jeff Roberts from GigaOm, “Intellectual Ventures’ entire business is focused on screwing over innovators by charging them an often-substantial tax by bundling together tens of thousands of broad patents.”

So, how can we explain these two completely opposing views of one company? It really boils down to a major ideological difference in what patents mean to society.

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3D Printing Came to Capitol Hill

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Last week Public Knowledge hosted the second 3D/DC event on Capitol Hill. More than 20 representatives from the 3D printing community came to Capitol Hill to showcase the innovation taking place in their field. 

Members of Congress, staffers, enthusiasts and people walking by the Rayburn House Office Building came in to see 3D printing in action. Some of them for the first time. There were so many printers and exhibitors there that it was easy for every participant to find something they were intersted in. This event showed that 3D printing wasn't just about making toys out of Lego plastic. This event showed people how bright the future of printing could be. Printing is becomming an educational tool and soemthing that other fields are starting to take advantage of. Allowing the participants to see the scale and scope of 3D printing. 

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Recapping the 2013 Policy Symposium

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February 26th marked the first Public Knowledge Symposium on Capitol Hill. The event was an opportunity for policy makers to hear from and exchange ideas with experts from many fields including data caps, online video, copyright and first sale.  

Data Caps:

The data cap panel began with the question of how online video has become the next big thing for the Internet. John Vezina, Political Director for the Writers Guild of America, threw around the word ‘binge viewer’ when he described the way people watch their favorite shows like House of Cards or the Lizzie Bennett Diaries. He also spoke about how the Internet gives writers an opportunity to reach niche audiences without going through gatekeepers. 

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