Public Knowledge Statement on FTC Chairman Majoras SpeechAugust 21, 2006 Network Neutrality , Press Release
For immediate release Aug. 21, 2006
Public Knowledge Statement on FTC Chairman Majoras Speech
Background: FTC Chairman Deborah Majoras announced she will organize an Internet Access Task Force to examine a variety of issues, including Net Neutrality. Her speech is available here:
The following is the statement of Public Knowledge President Gigi B. Sohn:
"We welcome the interest of the Federal Trade Commission in the Net Neutrality issue. We certainly look forward to the analysis of an agency that exists to protect competition of the broadband market in which 98 percent of customers receive their service from either the telephone company or the cable company, if they have that choice at all. There are no market forces at work here, much as Chairman Majoras wishes there to be. Should the FTC see the need to examine the workings of that market and craft a solution to bring more competition, Public Knowledge would be a willing participant in such a proceeding.
"At the same time, we note that Chairman Majoras' call for a cost-benefit analysis of regulation should reflect well on the calls for Net Neutrality legislation. Far from being a new, overwhelming "one-size-fits-all" mandate, as the chairman indicates, Net Neutrality is, at its base, the reinstatement of the non-discrimination principles of the Communications Act. These principles were in existence for telecommunications services until the Federal Communications Commission lifted them last fall. That type of regulation would certainly be more simple to implement than a new, wide-ranging FTC rule, which would not have the benefit of 70 years of Communications Act regulations of networks behind it."Read More
Public Knowledge Praises FCC Staff Decision on NFL NetworkAugust 7, 2006 Network Neutrality , Press Release
For immediate release Aug. 7, 2006
Public Knowledge Praises FCC Decision on NFL Network
Background: The Federal Communications Commission's Mass Media Bureau today reaffirmed its decision to require Time Warner cable systems to carry the NFL Network as a result of TW's acquisition of Adelphia and Comcast cable properties. TW had taken the NFL Network off of the cable systems of more than one million subscribers.
The following is the statement of Gigi B. Sohn, president of Public Knowledge:
"We are pleased that the Media Bureau upheld its decision requiring Time Warner to reinstate the NFL Network to more than one million cable subscribers. This dispute shows perfectly why Net Neutrality is necessary. The cable model, with the cable operator as gatekeeper of content, should not be applied to the Internet, but the danger is that it will without strong non-discrimination legislation."
The Bureau decision is here.Read More
Copyright Law A Poor Fit for Fashion, Industry Analyst Tells CongressJuly 31, 2006 Fair Use , Press Release
For Immediate Release July 27, 2006
Contact: Art Brodsky 202-518-0020 (c) 301-908-7715
Contact for The Doneger Group: Stacy Berns/Melissa Jaffin, Berns Communications Group 212-994-4660
Copyright Law A Poor Fit for Fashion, Industry Analyst Tells Congress
It would be a mistake for Congress to make fashion designs subject to copyright law, a leading fashion industry analyst told a House subcommittee this morning.
David Wolfe, creative director for The Doneger Group of New York, a firm which analyzes global marketing trends and strategies in the fashion industry, testified before the House Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property on a bill (HR 5055) which would bring clothing and accessories, including belts and eyeglass frames, under copyright law. Wolfe's testimony was coordinated by Public Knowledge, a Washington public interest group that works to preserve the public's rights on intellectual property issues.
In his written statement to the subcommittee, Wolfe said that: "Over the past century, the fashion industry in America has thrived because of, and not in spite of, a lack of copyright protection for fashion designs. The fashion industry is a well-balanced system, which succeeds by smoothly, quickly, and profitably integrating a complicated blend of original ideas, individual creativity and copying. Fashion designers draw on a wide array of influences from society, history and one another, making it virtually impossible to determine the originality of a given design. Copyright for fashion design is antithetical to this process."
Wolfe noted that copyright is based on protecting originality. But in the fashion industry, "finding and defining originality in fashion is an extremely difficult if not impossible task," Wolfe said, adding: "Because it is so difficult to determine what is 'original' about a particular fashion design, it would be equally difficult to enforce a copyright fairly."
The result, he said, would be a "morass of litigation that will hinder rather than encourage creativity in fashion design." Wolfe said: "Rather than efficiently creating new fashion designs for the market, designers will be trapped in the perpetual chaos of trying to defend the copyright on existing designs while planning and producing designs for the future. The lifespan of a legal dispute is longer than the attention span of the fashion industry. By the time a design is determined to be or not be infringing, the marketplace will have moved on and new trends will have emerged."
The full testimony is available here:
Public Knowledge is a public-interest advocacy and education organization that seeks to promote a balanced approach to intellectual property law and technology policy that reflects the "cultural bargain" intended by the framers of the constitution. More information available at: https://www.publicknowledge.org
About The Doneger Group: Founded in 1946 with headquarters in New York City, The Doneger Group is the leading market source of global market trends and customized merchandising strategies to the retail and fashion community. Its premier network of merchandising market analysts and Creative Services Team work closely together to research, edit and evaluate the marketplace to help companies make better business decisions in buying and merchandising.Read More
For Immediate Release
Public Knowledge today asked for nominations for its IP3 awards for 2006, the third year the awards will be given. The awards honor achievement in the areas of Intellectual Property, Information Policy and Internet Protocol. The organization sent the following statement to its members and posted it on the Public Knowledge Web site:Read More
Public Knowledge Criticizes Senate Commerce Committee ActionsJune 28, 2006 Network Neutrality , News & Analysis , Press Release
For Immediate Release
The Net Neutrality amendment failed on an 11-11 vote. The ten committee Democrats joined Republican Senator Olympia Snowe voting in favor of the language with the remaining 11 committee Republicans voting against it.
The following is the statement of Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, on the Senate Commerce Committee's approval of telecommunications legislation.
"Over the course of two days, the Senate Commerce Committee handed control of Internet content to the telephone and cable companies, and control over the design of consumer electronics to the movie and recording industries. In each case, big companies win, and consumers lose.
Public Knowledge Asks House Panel To Oppose Content ControlsJune 26, 2006 Broadcast Flag , Press Release
For immediate release June 27, 2006
Public Knowledge Asks House Panel To Oppose Content Controls
Public Knowledge President Gigi B. Sohn told the House Telecom Subcommittee there is no need for Congress to enact content controls on broadcast digital television and digital radio.
At a June 27 hearing on "The Audio and Video Flags: Can Content Protection and Technological Innovation Coexist?", Sohn noted that TV networks are now offering their programs on digital services, including the iTunes store and direct downloads, while Warner Brothers is working with BitTorrent, the peer-to-peer company.
Sohn said in her written statement. "Yet even as innovators in the motion picture and recording industries promote these alternative distribution models and the technologies that facilitate them, their colleagues in Washington are asking Congress to step in and give them protection from the vague threat of massive copyright infringement the industry says these new technologies could facilitate."
She added that the content industry "certainly has not shown that government technology mandates will work to stop actual copyright pirates rather than prevent ordinary consumers from engaging in lawful activities." Sohn said the content industry is "asking Congress to impose three technology mandates: the TV broadcast flag, an audio broadcast flag, and an end to the analog hole. Each mandate 1) injects government into technological design; 2) restricts lawful consumer activities; and 3) increases consumer costs by making obsolete millions of digital devices."
Lawmakers should be skeptical of claims that broadcast flag legislation is "narrow," Sohn said, noting that the rules proposed by the Federal Communications Commission "put the FCC in the position of deciding the ultimate fate of every single device that can demodulate a digital television signal. The broadcast flag rules require the FCC to pre-approve television sets, computer software, digital video recorders, cellphones, game consoles, iPods and any other device that can receive a digital television signal."
If there is to be a broadcast flag, Sohn said, it should be accompanies by reforms to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), along with exemptions for news and public affairs, distance education and programming that is in the public domain.
The content controls for digital radio also are unnecessary, Sohn said, noting that the recording industry is pursuing the controls only for the purpose of stopping personal home recording.
The full written testimony is available hereRead More
Public Knowledge Warns Senate of Harms From Closing Consumer Electronics ConnectionsJune 20, 2006 Analog Hole , Press Release
For immediate release June 21, 2006
Consumers would be harmed and innovation would suffer if Congress passed legislation that closed off analog connections to digital consumer electronics devices, Public Knowledge President and Gigi B. Sohn said in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Committee held a hearing on "The Analog Hole: Can Congress Protect Copyright and Promote Innovation?" The "analog hole" is the shorthand term for connecting an analog consumer electronics device, such as a TiVo or Slingbox, to a digital device, such as a digital TV. The motion picture industry wants to ban such connections out of fear that movies will be illegally copied because the conversion from digital to analog formats strips out copy protection coding.
Sohn said, however, that closing the analog hole "would be profoundly anti-consumer and a radical change in the historic copyright balance. Closing the analog hold would immediately restrict lawful uses of technology and make millions of consumer devices obsolete."
In her testimony, Sohn said that by closing the "analog hole," consumers would be harmed as everyday tasks such as time-shifting, place-shifting, recording TV shows onto a computer or moving content over a home network would be prohibited. Devices purchased before the closing of the analog hole may not work with devices purchased after, Sohn added.
In addition, she told the Committee in her written statement: "The ability to transfer content that one lawfully buys from one device to another has helped to drive the huge market for content and devices. Closing the analog hole will limit this ability and with it consumers' enthusiasm for purchasing these products."
Sohn said that the U.S. Copyright Office and the Motion Picture Association of America have advocated using analog conversion of digital material should be the only way for consumers to engage in fair use of copy-protected digital content.
Her full written statement is here.Read More
Public Knowledge Statement on Net Neutrality VoteJune 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.
Non-Profits and Companies Alert Hill to Dangers of International Broadcasting TreatyJune 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
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.
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 GroupRead More
Companies and Groups Protest Draft Copyright Bill’s Assault on ConsumersJune 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."Read More