Posts by John Bergmayer:

Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) gave the opening keynote at the Broadband Policy Summit today in Arlington.

He noted that America is the home of the Internet and remains its technological and economic leader, and that in terms of raw numbers, America is the world leader in broadband. But he is concerned with America's 15th-place ranking in the recent OECD study. He detailed a number of plans he thinks would help improve broadband penetration in America.

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As you may know, nearly all government agencies have their own kid's pages. The FCC's Kid's Zone is livened up by the blinking presence of Broadband the cat, your guide to the sometimes confusing realm of telecommunications law and policy.

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The technical and policy morass surrounding CableCARD is keeping innovative technology companies out of the market for set-top boxes (STBs). Need evidence? Here's Steve Jobs at D5, quoted at Engadget:

The minute you have an STB you have gnarly issues, CableCARD, OCAP… that just isn't something we would choose to do ourselves.

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Open access is a policy that improves choice, increases competition, and might increase America's standing in the international broadband rankings. It is one of the key policy recommendations filed with the FCC by the Ad Hoc Public Interest Spectrum Coalition (PISC) regarding the upcoming 700 mhz spectrum auction. We think that the public interest is best served when the same company that owns the "pipe" (in this case, the wireless network) does not also control the retail side of things. Increased competition is more likely than a monopoly (or duopoly) model to give customers choice in broadband service as to speeds and pricing– and it is more likely to bring broadband to areas that are currently underserved.

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My name is John Bergmayer, and I am a summer intern here at Public Knowledge. I am a student at the University of Colorado Law School. Issues such as the ones Public Knowledge works on are what drove me to law school in the first place. Law is the place where technology, culture, and policy collide. I wanted to be more than a rubbernecker.

I'm here in DC for the summer, but normally I live in Boulder, Colorado with my girlfriend, Susie, my dog, Edmund, and Meow Zedong and Paw the cats. In addition to law, I am interested in technology, literature, music, Macintosh computers, and BMX. I'll be working on (and blogging about) communications and intellectual property issues. More over here.

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Before, I discussed some of the ways in which CableCARD, already hampered by the reluctance by some in the cable industry to fully adopt it, is obsolete before its time. Successors to CableCARD are in the works. The current champion appears to be DCAS, a software-based solution. ("CableCARD 2.0" mostly refers to an enhancement to CableCARD. What we're talking about here is its full-blown successor.)

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Nate Anderson at Ars Technica today has posted an illuminating description of a discussion he had with Marybeth Peters, the United States Register of Copyrights.

She points out that fair use is an ambiguous concept. Her view appears to be that unless a court has expressly weighed in on the matter of a particular use, then it's not fair use.

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CableCARD is broken. Public Knowledge has already addressed the issue of the cable industry's reluctance and general foot-dragging over complying with the CableCARD standard. Apart from this, technological changes have all but made it so that CableCARD is obsolete before it is even fully adopted. The opportunity to develop a successor to CableCARD ought to be used as an opportunity to safeguard consumer choice and freedom, and to increase competition among hardware providers. But instead it would seem that some in the cable industry would like for whatever replaces CableCARD to be so weak that their monopoly over set-top boxes and other video equipment is assured. A consumer's ability to make fair and legal use of the content he buys would also suffer. Do you want one less ugly box sitting on top of your TV? How about the ability to easily record TV shows and watch them on your iPod? If the cable industry gets its way, you're out of luck.

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