Last week, the European Parliament voted 348 to 274 to pass the Copyright Directive. Unless something truly extraordinary happens during the upcoming meeting of the European Council -- think of it as the Senate of the EU, where the governments of Member States are represented -- draconian and highly disruptive new rules on content licensing and monitoring will become EU law.
This morning, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued its decision in ClearCorrect v. International Trade Commission. The Court rejected the ITC's attempt to block transmissions of digital data, holding that "[t]he Commission’s decision to expand the scope of its jurisdiction to include electronic transmissions of digital data runs counter to the 'unambiguously expressed intent of Congress.'"
One lesson from our victory in net neutrality bears repeating. Although strong protections for an Open Internet are a great step forward for the public, there are other ways for companies and organizations to block websites. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is the latest creative example of an organization working to restrict Internet users behind closed doors. And the best part is that the whole thing revolves around a patent case about teeth.
Today, Public Knowledge and 27 other organizations, associations, and legal scholars sent a letter to the International Trade Commission opposing a recent decision that the Commission has authority to block Internet data transmissions. That decision concluded that the ITC’s authority to block the importation of copyright-and patent-infringing products extends to an ability to block Internet data transmissions into the United States.
Several outlets are reporting that the MPAA’s policy efforts have, over the past years, continued, post-SOPA (Stop Online Privacy Act), to focus on different theories of site blocking. With Congress wary of passing new legislation that could lead to private online censorship, the movie industry is apparently shopping around for other forums in which to press its site-blocking agenda.