Posts by Jodie Griffin:

The Federal Communications Commission has given more details about the trials it will use to gather information about the transition of our communications networks to Internet Protocol. One important step in the transition of our phone network from traditional TDM-based technology to IP (and in some cases from copper networks to fiber or wireless) is […]
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It’s Copyright Week! From today through Saturday, a number of groups around the Web will be exchanging ideas, information, and actions about how to fix copyright law for the better. Each day will be devoted to a different aspect of copyright law. For more on Copyright Week, see here.

Today’s focus is on transparency. More than ever, copyright policymakers must improve transparency in copyright policy–including both listening to and talking to the public.

As copyright law increasingly touches so many aspects of our economy and day-to-day lives, it’s crucial that our copyright policies are formed openly and publicly. Copyright law affects everyone—both when creating and experiencing copyrighted works—and so everyone should have the opportunity to inform themselves about and give input on the policies promoted by our representatives in government. But especially when we see copyright policy being pushed into secretive massive trade agreements, it is clear that the fight for transparency in copyright lawmaking is not over.

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Public Knowledge is putting forward its recommendations for useful, consumer-focused trials for the phone network transition.

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Today marks the 100th anniversary of an agreement called the Kingsbury Commitment that embodied some of the most fundamental principles that underly our communications networks.

In honor of its 100th anniversary, it’s worth pausing to remember how the Kingsbury Commitment set a national goal to ensure interconnection and provide at least basic telephone service to all Americans. Our country has not wavered from that fundamental commitment since. As we now move into new IP-based phone networks and communications infrastructure, we must hold fast to this commitment to make sure no one is left behind in the phone network transition.

What Is The Kingsbury Commitment?

The Kingsbury Commitment is a deal struck in 1913 between American Telegraph & Telephone (now AT&T) and the Department of Justice, settling an antitrust investigation into AT&T’s market power, especially over long-distance phone service.

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If artists don’t follow the technical procedures to reclaim their copyrights correctly, copyright term extensions just turn into a windfall for their middlemen.

In keeping with the holiday spirit, the most recent court ruling on copyright reclamation rules revolves around the publishing rights for “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town.” Unfortunately for the composers’ heirs, a mistake in attempting to reclaim their copyright back in 1981 means that the economic windfall of 20 extra years of copyright protection will go straight to the song’s publisher.

Copyright law is meant to benefit artists as a means of ultimately serving the public good. Unfortunately, this case shows how the system still sometimes fails on both counts. Copyright term extensions have kept Santa Claus Is Coming To Town out of the public domain for almost 80 years now, while a procedural error has also kept the copyright out of the hands of the composers’ heirs. As a result, the middleman (here, EMI’s publishing arm) enjoys a windfall of profits while the composers and the public both lose out.

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Carriers proposing phone network transition pilot programs must explain to the Federal Communications Commission and the public how they’d like to run a trial in meaningful detail before we can even begin to consider their ideas.

Last week we talked about some key consumer protections that must be included in the FCC’s pilot programs to test-run specific aspects of the phone network transition. In addition to proposing certain pilot programs itself, the FCC used its Public Notice to ask any carriers and other stakeholders that want to see other types of pilot programs submit detailed plans explaining exactly what those trials would entail.

In part, this seemed like a response to AT&T, which has been asking the FCC to let it run trials since last November but has yet to give any meaningful details about what these trials would actually look like, what information they would give us, and how they would be conducted.

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Pilot programs for the phone network transition must first and foremost protect everyday consumers.

As the conversation about the phone network transition to Internet Protocol (IP)-based technologies continues, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is figuring out how to construct pilot programs to collect data about certain aspects of the transition. We at Public Knowledge have emphasized how this transition must be a step forward–not a step backward–for everyone. That applies just as much to the proposed pilot programs as it does to the overall transition.

The FCC’s pilot programs must first and foremost protect the everyday Americans who use the network for business, to communicate with loved ones, and to call 911 during emergencies.

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has taken the first steps to fully considering how Verizon’s Voice Link deployment impacts consumers.

Yesterday evening the FCC notified Verizon that it would not automatically approve Verizon’s application to replace its traditional wireline network with a fixed wireless service called Voice Link in Fire Island, NY and Mantoloking, NJ. The FCC also requested more data from Verizon about Voice Link’s reliability and quality and the services Voice Link does or does not support.

This still leaves open the question of whether the FCC will ultimately approve or deny Verizon’s request to roll out Voice Link instead of copper, but it at least ensures the FCC won’t simply let Verizon’s application be approved in an absence of mind under a fast-track process that wasn’t designed for a situation as novel and complicated as Verizon’s post-Superstorm Sandy network changes.

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The Commerce Department’s Internet Policy Task Force (IPTF) is right to delve into the complexity of music licensing in its recent paper on copyright, but we also need to understand how consolidation and business practices shape the licensing landscape if we want to create a more robust and fair music marketplace.

Among many other important issues, the Department of Commerce’s recent paper on copyright discusses how copyright is shaping the current state of online music licensing (starting on page 77). To be fair, the paper doesn’t purport to be a completely comprehensive examination of what’s helping and hindering a healthy music licensing market, but without at least mentioning some of the biggest issues facing the marketplace today our policies might be misguided and ineffective.

First of all, the paper rightly recognizes that the best defense is a good offense, and notes studies crediting the development of legal music services as a leading force in decreasing infringement online. This is a good reminder that everyone–artists, intermediaries, and listeners alike–stand to benefit from a well-designed music licensing system that encourages a robust marketplace.

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PKThinks’ newest white paper explains why we need a values-based framework for the phone network transition and why the Five Fundamentals can continue promoting a network you can count on.

Today Public Knowledge released a white paper explaining why it’s so important that we follow certain basic values as our phone network transitions to Internet Protocols (IP). After all, our phone network didn’t become the envy of world by accident; it was the result of deliberate policy choices that prioritized service to all Americans, competition and interconnection, consumer protection, network reliability, and public safety (what PK calls the Five Fundamentals).

As we dive into the transition to IP, it’s tempting to jump right into a debate about what the specific rules should look like. But without knowing what values are guiding your choices, it’s impossible to make principled decisions about which path to choose. 

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