Weekly Recap and Preview - 2/6/12

Recap of Last Week

Last week, negotiators met in LA behind closed doors to discuss the intellectual property chapter of a new international trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. The TPP is the frightening sequel to another international trade agreement in the news recently: the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, known as ACTA. Simultaneous to the private TPP negotiations, a separately organized public interest briefing on concerns with the TPP was actually kicked out of the hotel where it was supposed to have taken place. 

In related news, PK launched a petition asking the US Trade Representative (USTR) to stop doing big content's bidding in a process called "Special 301". Special 301 is an annual report that cites countries for not doing enough to protect American IP. Every year, the conversation is dominated by the content industry's assertions about which countries should be put on the naughty list and why. This is part of how the US pressures foreign governments to adopt more stringent and draconian IP measures, like the Ley Sinde in Spain, with little regard for free speech and due process.

Last Wednesday, the Florida House Judiciary Committee took up overreaching bootlegging policy, moving the legislation one step closer to passage. Instead of advancing a law that helps artists who are harmed by copyright infringement, the bill would allow the RIAA and major studios to collect bootlegging damages themselves. 

Also last Wednesday, we took a look at the Payroll Tax bill. Why? Because stapled to the back is really terrible wireless policy. The practice of attaching bad policy to an unrelated must-pass piece of legislation is nothing new, but this case is especially egregious. As PK staff attorney Michael Weinberg said, "It is almost as if the proponents of these additions took a few years' worth of ideas that will make wireless worse, wrapped them up in a bundle, and glued them to the underside of a bill that—if it does not pass—will raise taxes for millions of Americans."

Preview of What's to Come

Today, we sent a letter to Congress along with more than 70 other grass-roots groups, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, human rights groups, public interest organizations, communities of color, and Internet companies, saying that Congress should stop its work on intellectual property issues in the wake of SOPA/PIPA.

Tomorrow, we're asking the FCC to take a closer look at a seemingly-arcane issue: "encryption of the basic tier."  

This Friday is the deadline to respond to exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) requested by groups like Public Knowledge. Currently this law prevents you from breaking the digital lock on, say, a DVD, for any use, even if the use itself is lawful. It's really stupid that transferring a movie you already own on DVD onto your devices with screens is a violation of the DMCA. Help us make DVD ripping legal.

This Friday is also the deadline to submit comments on the Special 301 report, as discussed above. 

Looking forward to the rest of this week, we'll have more to say about the TPP, the terrible wireless policy in the payroll tax bill, and several exciting announcements. 

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