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Private Interests Don’t Override the Law–in Music Publishing, Cable Boxes, or Anywhere Else

August 5, 2016 Antitrust , Copyright , FCC , Music Licensing , Unlock the Box

Two of the copyright issues Public Knowledge has been working on seem disconnected from each other, but there’s a common theme. In both the performance rights organization (PRO) and set-top box issues, policymakers should be clear in their understanding that private contracts can’t be used to override other provisions of law. Just as the interests of some industry participants don’t override legally-binding consent decrees, neither do they provide a reason for the Federal Communications Commission to ignore its statutory mandate to promote set-top box competition.

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Not the Agency You’re Looking For: The Copyright Office’s Misguided Antitrust Adventure

July 25, 2016 Antitrust , ASCAP , BMI , Copyright , Copyright Office

The increasing frequency with which the Copyright Office has inserted itself into policy debates raises questions about the scope of its expertise and authority. An illustrative example of how the Office’s opinions can cause problems occurred earlier this year. During the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division inquiry into how performance rights organizations (PROs) ASCAP and BMI license songs with multiple authors where not every author is a member of the PRO (i.e., where either PRO represents only a ‘fraction’ of the ownership stake in the song), a member of Congress sought out the opinion of the Copyright Office, and the Office responded. Although it’s unremarkable for an agency to offer its opinion in response to a lawmaker request, it is remarkable for that agency to reach into unfamiliar areas of law, ignore basic public policy concerns in that area of law, and offer its own unqualified judgment on matters properly within the jurisdiction of another agency.

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A Closer Look at the Department of Justice’s ASCAP and BMI Consent Decree Review

July 18, 2016 Antitrust , Copyright , Copyright Reform , Department of Justice , Music Licensing

The music publishing industry has reacted in colorful and apocalyptic terms in its response to the leak detailing the expected conclusion of the Department of Justice’s consent decree review, in which the agency extensively examined the antitrust settlements binding the two largest performance rights organizations (PROs) in the nation, ASCAP and BMI. A closer look at Department’s reported conclusions suggests that the music industry response is overblown.

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Antitrust Law and the Protection of Open Standards, Interoperability, and Competition

June 10, 2016 Antitrust , Antitrust Law , Arista v. Cisco , Litigation , Oracle v. Google

This is a guest blog post written for Public Knowledge by Rachel Frank, a student and researcher at the Juelsgaard Intellectual Property and Innovation Clinic at Stanford Law School.

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New Paper by PK President Demonstrates Importance of Existing Antitrust and Economic Regulation

August 7, 2015 Antitrust , ComcastTWC , Net Neutrality , Video Competition , Video Marketplace

Thanks to recent antitrust enforcement and communications regulation, consumers continue to reap the benefits of exploding Internet entertainment, as well as educational and business opportunities. By facing down the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner, and by establishing strong net neutrality rules, the Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission have protected Internet users from discrimination and promoted broadband innovations that are critical to our democracy and essential to freedom of expression.

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