On Friday, Petitioners (including Public Knowledge) finally got to make their case in court that the Federal Communications Commission’s reckless abdication of responsibility over broadband was also illegal. For about five hours, in the ceremonial courtroom of the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse, in front of D.C. Circuit Judges Millett, Williams, and Wilkins, attorneys for Petitioners, for the FCC, and for intervenors on both sides got a grilling in a court that has become a regular forum for disputes over the status of broadband and the lawfulness of net neutrality rules.
Today, Public Knowledge joined 40 other consumer protection groups, digital divide advocates, and local government agencies -- including New York City -- in a letter urging Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to delay the vote on the “Restoring Internet Freedom” Draft Order, which would roll back the agency’s net neutrality rules if adopted. Specifically, the groups propose the FCC delay the vote until a pending court case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit -- the en banc review in Federal Trade Commission v. AT&T Mobility -- resolves.
One of the stranger ideas going around among the anti-net neutrality crowd (and in the Federal Communication Commission’s proposal to roll back the net neutrality rules) is the idea that the current rules, adopted by the previous FCC, contain a loophole that allows Internet Service Providers to block whatever websites they want to and generally avoid the rules, provided they use the right magic words--namely, that if they simply say ahead of time they intend to violate the rules, they’re no longer subject to them. This is wrong—the rules only cover broadband ISPs, which are defined quite precisely, but there’s no way for an ISP to continue offering what anyone would recognize as “internet access” without being covered by the rules.
In light of the lawsuit between Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams, and T.I. vs. Marvin Gaye regarding whether “Blurred Lines” infringes the copyrights to “Got to Give It Up,” Meredith Whipple interviews Charles Duan as he takes us through music history to demonstrate common patterns in songs, why these exist, and how that’s a good thing for music.
Imagine this: Your family is at your place for Thanksgiving and, all of a sudden, your mother has a heart attack. You rush to the phone and dial 9-1-1. You’re told by an automated message that your internet has been disconnected for alleged copyright infringement, so your emergency call cannot be completed. Unbeknownst to you, HBO noticed that your roommate had been illegally downloading Game of Thrones, and called upon your Internet Service Provider to disconnect your account.