Posts by Chris Lewis

LTE-U Can Harm Consumers, but Only If the FCC Allows It

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Unlicensed spectrum has never been more popular! The reason people love unlicensed spectrum is because it is the “public commons” of spectrum that is open to anyone to use and has led to innovations that people use every day. Technologies such as Bluetooth, cordless phones, baby monitors, and Wi-Fi all come from use of unlicensed spectrum, and we expect to see many new innovations in the near future as a result of unlicensed spectrum, such as self-driving cars.

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The Consumer Interest at Stake in Patent Reform

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When you visit the website of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the agency describes itself as “a mechanism that protects new ideas and investments in innovation and creativity”. After over two years of debate around how to improve the patent litigation system, opponents to reform are attempting to kill momentum towards reform by suggesting that the nation throw sand into the gears of the USPTO’s mechanism for innovation and creativity. This sand comes in the form of a proposal to limit the USPTO ability to review the quality of patents after they have been granted, called inter partes review proceedings. There are special interests in Washington that are working to hard to eliminate or curtail this right to inter partes reviews. Big Pharmaceutical companies have billions of dollars in extra benefits on the line if they can continue to make it hard for the small guy to challenge their patents. Patent trolls stand to benefit by gutting the USPTO’s review processes as well. If their patents cannot be challenged or reviewed through IPR, then they will have more opportunities they have to flood individuals and small businesses with requests for payments based on fraudulent claims.

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FCC Must Provide Guidance On Natural Disasters

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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.

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Congressmen Agree on Phone Unlocking; Committee Narrowly Approves Bill

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Even when they agree on what they want, Members of Congress excel at division and making a noncontroversial bill sound like the road to ruin.


FACT: Ask every member of the House Judiciary Committee if they support the right of consumers to unlock their cell phones so they can change service providers and they will say yes.  All of them.

And yet for two hours Wednesday, Committee members engaged in heated debate and ultimately voted by a small margin to move the simple four page bill (H.R. 1123) sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte out of Committee and to the House floor for consideration and vote.  This should not have been a controversial committee mark up, but many Members of Congress continue to be concerned about what this bill means, rather than what it actually does.

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Consumers Ready for State of Video to Change

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Senators are challenged to think outside the industry talking points, to what consumers are saying loudly in their marketplace choices.


As a part of a series of hearings, the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on the “State of Video” communications Tuesday May 14, 2013. 

Leaders from the cable, satellite, and broadcast TV industries joined PK’s own video & media policy guru, John Bergmayer on the panel and made one thing very clear: These industries are making a fine profit right now and are not interested in having the power of the Internet change that.

Hearings such as this, that have (somewhat) balanced witness panels are very helpful because they remind us that no matter how much we are told through advertising that what cable, satellite, and broadcast are giving us is what we want, these companies are in the business of protecting their business. The technology that can increase competition and lower the price of cable is already available in online video. Millions of viewers are making this choice to take advantage of online video options today.

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10th Year of IP3 Awards: Who Should Win?

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The 10th Annual IP3 Awards are coming up on October 9th, 2013! Who do you think deserves IP3 Awards this year?


This is an exciting time for the public interest community and tech policy! 

Over the last year, we have celebrated winning court decisions such as the Aereo case and Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, and we have continued to stand up net neutrality rules when we forced AT&T to step back from its blocking of Facetime.  From bringing about a balanced discussion around copyright reform following the dark days of SOPA/PIPA, to carrying the torch for the social contract of the Communications Act in discussions over the PSTN transition, to introducing DC to innovative new technologies like 3D printing, we are the thought leaders and activists who are leading the way forward. 

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The Copyright Reform Debate Continues Uncensored

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Last month the House Republican Study Committee (RSC) released (and then retracted 24 hours later) a thought-provoking policy paper entitled Three Myths About Copyright Law and Where to Start to Fix It. As the leading group for conservative policy ideas and discussion in the U.S. House of Representatives, the RSC could play a critical role in presenting the conservative arguments for copyright reform. 

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Congressional Fight for Internet Radio: Round One Goes to Fairness!  Round Two, Consumers?

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To the average observer Wednesday’s House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on Internet music royalties may have simply looked like a typical DC fight between large industry interests over how to split up a dollar.  While that may be partly true, it is also important to remember how these decisions can impact what music that we (the consumers) have access to and the choices we have in how we listen to it. Public Knowledge provided that voice of what is important for both consumers and artists through a written statement for the record.  However, the main event on Wednesday was the oral testimony by an industry-dominated panel, so lets get to the blow-by-blow.

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