Press Release

Public Knowledge Statement on Net Neutrality Vote

June 9, 2006 Network Neutrality , News & Analysis , Press Release

For Immediate Release

Earlier this evening, the House defeated the Markey amendment to telecommunications legislation (HR 5252).

The following statement is attributable to Gigi B. Sohn, president of Public Knowledge:

It is a shame that the House turned its back on the open essence of the Internet. Instead, the House ignored the arguments of consumers, technology companies and interest groups from across the political spectrum and voted to allow the telephone and cable companies to discriminate by controlling the content that will flow over the network and to assess whatever additional fees the telephone and cable companies want to charge on top of normal access rates.

The House has rushed to pass HR 5252 at the urging of the telephone and cable companies, who feared the growing public support for an enforceable net neutrality law. With the defeat of the Markey amendment, the House bill will have no meaningful protections for consumers or service providers against the discriminatory practices that the telephone and cable companies will employ to favor their own content and services. Today's Internet, which gives consumers control over what applications, services and content they want to access, will be replaced by an Internet that looks like a cable system — where network providers determine who gets on and at what price.

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Press Release

Non-Profits and Companies Alert Hill to Dangers of International Broadcasting Treaty

June 7, 2006 Press Release , WIPO Broadcasters Treaty

For immediate release June 7, 2006

Non-Profits and Companies Alert Hill to Dangers of International Broadcasting Treaty

Congress should take a close look at a proposed treaty that would give broadcasters new control over TV programming they may not own, groups of non-profits and corporations told Congress today.

At issue is a treaty being drafted by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) that would give broadcasters, cablecasters and Webcasters "a broad and unprecedented 50-year intellectual property right" over content they distribute. Such proposed new rights could harm consumers by allowing broadcasters to restrict access to the content and limit use of what otherwise would be legal access by consumers.

In a letter to the members of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees, Public Knowledge and 11 other groups asked for Congress to hold hearings on the treaty before it is submitted to the WIPO General Assembly for consideration and for the U.S. Copyright Office to have a public proceeding to analyze the proposed treaty's impact.

The non-profits letter was signed by Center for Democracy and Technology Consumer Federation of America Consumers Union Consumer Project on Technology EDUCAUSE Electronic Frontier Foundation Free Press The Internet Society (ISOC) IP Justice Public Knowledge Union for the Public Domain U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

A similar letter on behalf of a number of companies was signed by:

AT&T Inc. Panasonic Corporation of North America
BellSouth Corp. RadioShack Corporation Broadband Service Providers Association Sony Electronics Incorporate
Cingular Wireless Sprint Nextel
Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association TiVo Inc. Computer and Communications Industry Association Verizon Communications Inc Consumer Electronics Association Verizon Wireless
Dell Inc. US Internet Industry Association. Information Technology Association of America United States Telecom Association
Intel Corporation

A copy of the company letter is here:

The non-profits' letter follows:

June 7, 2006

Re: Proposed WIPO Broadcast Treaty

Dear : (Senator or Member of Congress)

We are writing to share our concerns regarding the proposed "Treaty on the Protection of Broadcasting Organizations" currently being negotiated in the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO Broadcast Treaty). We are troubled not only by the substance of the treaty, but also by the fact that the U.S. delegation, represented by the Library of Congress Copyright Office and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), have failed to engage in any public discussion about the effect of the treaty on consumers, industry, copyright holders and U.S. law.

Negotiations on the treaty are moving forward rapidly with the support of the U.S. delegation. A target date of September 2006 has been set for recommending the treaty to the WIPO General Assembly for a diplomatic conference.

The treaty would give broadcasters, cablecasters and webcasters a broad and unprecedented 50-year intellectual property like right in their signals. Placing new layers of rights on top of the already existing copyright in the underlying program material would complicate current U.S. law and existing regulations for copyright holders, Internet Service Providers, telecommunications companies, technology companies and consumers. It would also place in jeopardy new initiatives like a solution for "orphan" copyrighted works. The harm to the millions of consumers represented by the undersigned organizations would be particularly great – this additional layer of rights could permit broadcasters to restrict access to content within the home and could limit lawful uses of content over the Internet. Thus, this treaty could reverse the explosion of diverse and increasingly sophisticated "user generated" content that has become part of the fabric of the Internet.

For these reasons, we ask Congress to hold hearings on the WIPO Broadcasters' Treaty prior to its submission to the WIPO General Assembly. This will to give public policy makers and private stakeholders an opportunity to comment on and discuss the U.S. position and justification for establishing an additional layer of copyright protection for broadcasters, cablecasters and webcasters.

In addition, we respectfully ask that you request the Copyright Office and the USPTO to issue a Federal Register notice seeking public comment on the treaty that provides an analysis of the proposed treaty's impact on: 1) current U.S. law; 2) stakeholders, such as copyright holders, the telecommunications industry, consumer electronics industry and consumers; and 3) the public domain and the greater public interest.

We urge the committee to act expeditiously on both requests so that Congress and the public better understand what is at stake should negotiations on this treaty move forward.

If you have questions, or would like to discuss this matter further, please contact Gigi Sohn, President, Public Knowledge at (202) 518-0020. Thank you in advance for your consideration of this important issue.

Signed,

Center for Democracy and Technology Consumer Federation of America Consumers Union Consumer Project on Technology EDUCAUSE Electronic Frontier Foundation Free Press The Internet Society (ISOC) IP Justice Public Knowledge Union for the Public Domain U.S. Public Interest Research Group

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Press Release

Companies and Groups Protest Draft Copyright Bill’s Assault on Consumers

June 6, 2006 News & Analysis , Press Release

For Immediate Release

Draft legislation to be considered Thursday by a House subcommittee "would constitute an extraordinary expansion of copyright rights that would harm technology, innovation, and consumers," according to a letter sent to Capitol Hill signed by 19 companies and groups.

The draft bill, to be considered by the House Subcommittee on the Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, would put home recording in jeopardy and would require even temporary copies of movies or songs to be licensed.

"We can see the need for making improvements in copyright law, but provisions in this bill will be harmful to consumers and to innovation," said Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge. "Taken together, this draft bill, along with other legislation being considered in Congress and lawsuits filed against XM Radio and Cablevision, would have severe effects on consumers' rights and on technological innovation."

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Press Release

Statement of Public Knowledge on Orphan Works legislation

May 23, 2006 News & Analysis , Orphan Works , Press Release

For Immediate Release

Background: Yesterday, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the House Intellectual Property Subcommittee, introduced HR 5439, the Orphan Works Act of 2006. The bill is scheduled to be marked up in subcommittee tomorrow (May 24).

Public Knowledge is part of a coalition that has been active in promoting the use of orphan works. Others in the group are: Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers; Doculink; Film Arts Foundation; FIND (Film Independent); International Documentary Association; Independent Feature Project (IFP); National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture; National Video Resources.

The following is a statement from Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:

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Press Release

Statement of Public Knowledge on Orphan Works legislation

May 23, 2006

*For Immediate Release* Background:  Yesterday, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the House Intellectual Property Subcommittee, introduced HR 5439, the Orphan Works Act of 2006.  The bill is scheduled to be marked up in subcommittee tomorrow (May 24).  Public Knowledge is part of a coalition that has been active in promoting the use of orphan […]

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Press Release

Public Knowledge Statement on Snowe/Dorgan Legislation

May 19, 2006 Network Neutrality , News & Analysis , Press Release

For Immediate Release

Background: This afternoon, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Byron Dorgan (D-ND) introduced the Internet Freedom Preservation Act. The following is a statement from Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge.

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Press Release

Public Knowledge Statement on Sensenbrenner/Conyers Legislation

May 18, 2006 Network Neutrality , News & Analysis , Press Release

For Immediate Release

Background: House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI) and senior Democrat John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) today introduced legislation (HR 5417) to preserve Net Neutrality. This statement is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:

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Press Release

Public Knowledge Praises Markey Net Neutrality Legislation

May 2, 2006 Network Neutrality , News & Analysis , Press Release

For Immediate Release

Earlier today, Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced legislation that would require the Federal Communications Commission to enforce "Net Neutrality."

The following statement is attributable to Gigi B. Sohn, president of Public Knowledge:

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Press Release

Public Knowledge Endorses Cornyn Bill To Expand Taxpayer Access

May 2, 2006 News & Analysis , Open Access to Research , Press Release

For Immediate Release

Background: Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) today introduced (or announced) legislation that would give taxpayers access to billions of dollars of research for which they have already paid. The bill would expand the limited, voluntary program at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) which simply requests that researchers doing work funded by taxpayers post their work online. The bill would strengthen and expand the policy pioneered by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to provide free online access to publicly-funded research. The NIH asks its grantees to agree to free online access, but the new Cornyn-Lieberman bill would require it and extend the policy beyond the NIH to other federal funding agencies.

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Press Release

Public Knowledge Condemns House Committee’s Net Neutrality Vote, Sees Progress in Result

April 26, 2006 Network Neutrality , News & Analysis , Press Release

For Immediate Release

The House Energy and Commerce Committee today defeated an amendment to draft legislation that would have created an enforceable Net Neutrality policy. The vote was 22-34. Here is the statement from Public Knowledge President Gigi B. Sohn:

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