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Snowe, Dorgan and Friends Protect Internet Freedom

May 19, 2006 Network Neutrality , News & Analysis , Policy Blog

The long-awaited Net Neutrality bill from Sens. Olympia Snowe and Byron Dorgan was introduced this afternoon. They have an interesting group of cosponsors, as you can see.

Here's our take:

Public Knowledge Statement on Snowe/Dorgan legislation

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.

"The legislation from Senator Snowe and Senator Dorgan will make certain that issue of Internet freedom will be front and center as the Senate Commerce Committee debates and reshapes its important telecommunications legislation. We also would like to commend the original cosponsors, Commerce Co-chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI), and Democratic Senators Barbara Boxer (CA), a member of the Commerce Committee, as well as Ron Wyden (OR), Patrick Leahy (VT), Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY) and Barack Obama (IL).

"This legislation would preserve the open, innovative and creative Internet, much as program access rules created new competition in video programming through targeted provisions without the heavy hand of government regulation.

"As the Gun Owners of America and the Christian Coalition have recognized, the Internet benefits everyone. There is no reason this should be a partisan issue. It is a shame that more Senators from the Republican party did not feel they were able to support this legislation, which brings the issue of Internet Freedom and non-discrimination squarely into the Senate debate."

The bill as introduced, although without all the cosponsors listed, is here

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Clinton vs. Clintonistas

May 19, 2006 Network Neutrality , News & Analysis , Policy Blog

In the past few weeks, certain members of the former Clinton Administration have cast their lot with the telephone and cable companies in the Net Neutrality debate. Former White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry fronts for one group. Former Al Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile is working with Verizon.

Until now, the only Clintonista on our side has been Robert Reich, the former Secretary of Labor, who came out for Net Neutrality in a radio commentary.

Now, we have a real-life Clinton on our side:

May 18, 2006

Statement of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton on Net Neutrality

Washington, DC – "I support net neutrality. The open architecture of the Internet has been the critical element that has made it the most revolutionary communications medium since the advent of the television.

Each day on the Internet views are discussed and debated in an open forum without fear of censorship or reprisal. The Internet as we know it does not discriminate among its users. It does not decide who can enter its marketplace and it does not pick which views can be heard and which ones silenced. It is the embodiment of the fundamental democratic principles upon which our nation has thrived for hundreds of years.

I have always, and will continue to strongly and unequivocally support these principles. As I have worked throughout my Senate career to make broadband access readily available throughout New York State and our nation, I believe that maintaining an open Internet coupled with more broadband access is necessary if we are to meet the promise and the potential of the Internet to disseminate ideas and information, enhance learning, education and business opportunities for all Americans and improve and uplift our citizenry.

We must embrace an open and non-discriminatory framework for the Internet of the 21st century. Therefore, it is my intention to be an original cosponsor of the Dorgan and Snowe net neutrality legislation to ensure that open, unimpaired and unencumbered Internet access for both its users and content providers is preserved as Congress debates the overhaul of our nation's telecommunications laws. Any effort to fundamentally alter the inherently democratic structure of the Internet must be rejected."

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Princeton Conference on Creativity & IP Law

May 19, 2006 News & Analysis , Policy Blog

I am in Princeton today at to speak at the Creativity & IP Law Conference, which is jointly sponsored by the Princeton University Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies and Microsoft. The conference kicked off last night with a very fun multimedia talk by Larry Lessig about the difference between "Read-Only" and "Read-Write" cultures, and how copyright law fits the first very nicely and the second not so well. Some of his examples of the R-W culture, which for lay people is stuff like mash-ups and user generated video and music, were hysterical. Two of my favorites are "Brokeback to the Future", and George Bush and Tony Blair lip-synching Endless Love. Hadn't seen that last one before. Lots of great folks here, including Yocahi Benkler, Jessica Litman, Chris Sprigman and Ed Felten.

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A Different Opinion on the Ebay Patent Decision

May 19, 2006 News & Analysis , Patent , Policy Blog

Yesterday, I said that "[t]his week's Supreme Court decision in Ebay v. Mercexchange, which held that a court must look to four equitable factors in determining whether an injunction should issue in a patent case, is unlikely to change" the ability of a patent infringer to avoid an injunction. That the Ebay case was nothing more than a "punt" by the Supreme Court was also the opinion of at least two of the three patent law professors who joined me on a Federalist Society panel yesterday. But a friend of PK who is a patent expert begged to differ:

"Actually, I think the Supreme Court here accomplished what Congress has been unable to do: It restored to district courts the discretion to deny injunctions for equitable reasons, and reminded the Federal Circuit that it should review district court decisions for an abuse of discretion (thereby obliterating the Federal Circuit's "extraordinary circumstances" rule). It did not categorically disapprove of any of the factors relied on by the eBay district court in denying the injunction (and four justices expressly approved some of them), which suggests that on remand, there will be no injunction."

N.B.: The "extraordinary circumstances" rule stated that requests for injunctions should be denied only in an "'unusual' case, under 'exceptional circumstances' and ' 'in rare instances . . . to protect the public interest.' '

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House Judiciary Bill Preserves Net Neutrality

May 18, 2006 Network Neutrality , News & Analysis , Policy Blog

It was quite the news day for Net Neutrality.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Sensenbrenner and senior Democrat Conyers introduced a real Net Neutrality bill.

Here's our news release:

Public Knowledge Statement on Sensenbrenner/Conyers legislation

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:

"We are very grateful to Chairman Sensenbrenner and to Ranking Member Conyers for introducing this legislation. We look forward to its consideration and support by the full House Judiciary Committee.

"The bill squarely addresses the issue of the enormous market power of the telephone and cable companies as the providers of 98 percent of the broadband service in the country. The bill restores the principle of non-discrimination that allowed the Internet to flourish in the dial-up era, making certain that the same freedom and innovation will flourish in the broadband era without burdensome regulation."

A copy of the bill is available here

Earlier in the day at the Senate Commerce Committee, Net Neutrality was brought up as the key issue in the bill (S 2686) introduced by Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). Senators and witnesses both characterized the issue as the one that could make, or break, the bill.

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