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October 1, 2014

Posts in "Intellectual Property"

September 26, 2014

Weekly Recap: Comcast’s Merger Comments, Google on Data Localization & Jason Chaffetz

The week wraps up with the Federal Trade Commission’s 100-year birthday. Here’s a look at some of the highlights from this week in Washington and a few Technocrat posts from this week, in case you missed them.

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Friday Q&A: Application Developers Alliance’s Tim Sparapani

Tim 335x335 Friday Q&A: Application Developers Alliances Tim Sparapani

(Source: Application Developers Alliance)

The Application Developers Alliance, which *surprise* represents app developers, is just a couple years old and has roughly 40,000 individual and nearly 180 companies as members. The policy issues they focus on are data and patents and Technocrat talked with the group’s vice president for policy, law and government affairs, Tim Sparapani. He was previously Facebook’s public policy director and senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union.

Q: What are your top policy issues that you’re working on right now?

A: Well, it’ll be no surprise that most of them revolve around data.

And, you know, because our members are the experts in how to build new and novel technologies, using both businesses’ and the public’s data, there are a whole host of questions that arise from that.

So, they sort of span the globe of things. But mostly it’s about how we can use data wisely and well to benefit consumers and the public writ large.

Sometimes people sort of truncate this by calling it a privacy debate. Well, it’s a lot more than that. You know, it’s a really a sort of a debate about whether data can be used to solve a series of societal problems, as our members believe it can be. And whether we can provide increasingly customized and personalized services and benefits to individuals, which give them tools and services that before the app industry arose used to cost them a whole lot of money, and now we can hopefully give them to them for free or nearly so. So it’s also about consumer benefit.

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September 24, 2014

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, His Tech Interests & Five Guys

chaffetz 281 102813 445x269 Rep. Jason Chaffetz, His Tech Interests & Five Guys

Rep. Jason Chaffetz does a television interview from the rotunda in the Russell Senate Office Building on Oct. 28, 2013. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz sits on the House Judiciary subcommittee with jurisdiction over intellectual property and information technology issues, is a prolific user of Twitter and is interested in the intersection of security, technology and privacy.

CQ Roll Call’s updated profile of Chaffetz went online (subscription) earlier this week and a significant portion of it looks at his work and stances on tech policy issues, including: online gambling, music royalty rates and legislation that would allow states to collect sales taxes on online purchases made by residents, even when the retailer is out of state.

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September 23, 2014

Lofgren: Section 1201 in ‘Desperate Need of a Fix’

lofgren 101 051612 445x335 Lofgren: Section 1201 in Desperate Need of a Fix

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., participates in a House Democrats’ news conference on May 16, 2012. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

One of California Democrat Zoe Lofgren’s legislative priorities for next Congress: a change to anti-circumvention provisions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

In an interview, the Silicon Valley member of the House Judiciary Committee, said she didn’t know “that we will be able to get consensus to do this,” but said “Section 1201 is in desperate need of a fix.”

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September 18, 2014

Head of U.S. Copyright Office Will Tell Lawmakers Office is Understaffed

The U.S. Copyright Office is understaffed and could face additional strains in the future, according testimony by the head of the U.S. Copyright Office.

Maria A. Pallante has brought up the staffing concerns to Congress before, and in prepared testimony for a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing Thursday on Copyright Office oversight, she writes that the office’s staff is “smaller than it should be to carry out the volume and complexity of work prescribed by Title 17.” The office has 360 full-time employees, she writes in her testimony.

The most pressing concern, according to Pallante’s testimony, is the number of registration staff:

The registration program has been decimated by budget cuts and early retirement packages and has forty-eight vacancies out of a staff of 180 experts. Moreover, about 25% of the registration specialists remaining are approaching retirement.

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September 17, 2014

Exemption Process for DMCA Anti-Circumvention Rule: Time for a Change?

Should there be some changes to how exemptions are issued to a section of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that bars circumvention of anti-piracy technologies? While there’s deep disagreement over the broader question of whether the anti-circumvention section of the 1998 law is beneficial or problematic,  some witnesses at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Wednesday seemed to think it’s at least worth looking at changes to how certain exemptions are handled.

“At a bare minimum, we urge Congress to take action to relieve the burden of repeatedly seeking re-approval of uncontroversial exemptions like the one we must re-propose during each review,” Mark Richert, public policy director at the American Foundation for the Blind, wrote in his prepared testimony.

The Library of Congress issues exemptions every three years to that section of the 1998 law, but the process begins anew for each cycle. Certain exemptions in previous years have been granted for accessibility of e-books for the blind.

While Christian Genetski, senior vice president and general counsel for the Entertainment Software Alliance, said there’s been “unrivaled innovation” since enactment of the 1998 law, he seemed open to changes to how certain exemptions are handled.

“I think that we all share the frustration expressed by Mr. Richert in his testimony about the need to return repeatedly and use extensive resources to seek… renewal of an exemption” where there isn’t opposition, Genetski said. “I think there are instances like those where now we have the experience of several iterations of the rulemaking process where we see some patterns emerge.”

He added that there are areas emerging, like ones Richert speaks to, that could “warrant some thought about how we might address situations like that.”

Similarly, Jonathan Zuck, president of ACT – The App Association, said that the law “taken as a whole” has worked, but also said there’s “room for improvement” in the triennial review process “to make that process more fluid and create fewer impediments to legitimate exemptions.”

September 15, 2014

As Lawmakers Consider Potential Changes to Music Royalties, A Look at the Debates

As lawmakers are slowing building toward what could end up being a broad overhaul of music royalty structures, stakeholders — musicians, songwriter, publishers, Internet radio companies and terrestrial broadcasters — are all trying to make sure they don’t end up losing out, writes CQ Roll Call’s Rob Margetta.

In a story (subscription) this morning , Margetta lays out the policy debates surrounding a couple of specific issues, like the question of whether terrestrial  radio stations should pay royalties to artists.

“Probably the most controversial question at stake is whether lawmakers will end the decades-long practice of allowing AM and FM terrestrial radio stations to broadcast music without paying royalties to artists,” Margetta writes.

Artists’ groups and the recording industry argue that terrestrial radio stations are unfairly making money off of work they don’t pay for while the National Association of Broadcasters and others contend that their members can’t afford to pay for content they’ve traditionally used without paying those additional costs, Margetta writes.

Here’s some background: terrestrial radio stations pay royalties for the type of copyright that covers composers, songwriters or publishers, but they’ve long been exempted from paying for the second type of copyright typically attached to recorded songs – sound recording rights covering a specific version of a song by an artist. Margetta writes that before the Internet music revolution, that exemption was thought to be both a standard course of business and justified since songs played over the radio was thought to be advertisement for albums:

“The resulting popularity of radio has significantly contributed to a U.S. recording industry that is the envy of the world, both in terms of size and scope,” said Charles Warfield, joint board chairman for the National Association of Broadcasters, during an appearance before lawmakers this summer.

Now, however, artists and the groups that represent them say that free play for terrestrial radio doesn’t make sense. Foreign countries require terrestrial radio to pay royalties, but American copyright holders usually can’t access them because U.S. stations won’t reciprocate. And newer forms of radio, including cable, satellite and Internet stations, are required to pay royalties to artists. That last point, especially, gives lawmakers pause. Some lawmakers think the current system discourages new business and innovation.

Margetta adds: “Some lawmakers have expressed sympathy toward broadcasters, even as they’ve acknowledged there’s a discrepancy that Congress may address.”

September 12, 2014

Next Week: Net Neutrality, Big Data & Robotics Policy

It’ll be a busy week next week, with Monday being the deadline for filing Open Internet comments with the Federal Communications Commission, as well as a number of events here in Washington, among them the Federal Trade Commission’s big data workshop and the FCC’s Open Internet roundtables.

On Monday, the Federal Trade Commission holds a day-long workshop on big data and its impact on consumers, including the poor and under-served.

Also on Monday, The Brookings Institution hosts a panel discussion on robotics and the legal and regulatory policy surrounding it.

On Tuesday, the FCC hosts two roundtables on net neutrality, one in the morning on policy approaches  and another in the afternoon focusing on mobile broadband.

The Atlantic Council holds an event titled “The Final Frontier: Renewing America’s Space Program” on Tuesday.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler testifies before the House Small Business Committee in a hearing on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the Software & Information Industry Association holds an event releasing a report on the economic impact of the software industry.

The Senate Judiciary Committee holds a net neutrality hearing on Wednesday.

The House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee holds a hearing on Wednesday on the FCC’s budget and management, followed by another hearing by a Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee hearing on cross border data flows.

The House Judiciary Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet Subcommittee holds a copyright hearing on Wednesday, followed by a hearing Thursday on U.S. Copyright Office oversight.

On Thursday, National Journal and The Atlantic hold an event on Hispanic millennials and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

On Friday, the New America Foundation and the Global Public Policy Institute host an event on “technology sovereignty” proposals.

The Progressive Policy Institute holds an event titled “Growing the Transatlantic Digital Economy” on Friday.


August 18, 2014

Wikipedia, Cybersecurity, and Aspen Forum This Week

Events on Wikpedia, cybersecurity, startups, and government use of technology to lower costs are on tap this week and the Technology Policy Institute’s Aspen Forum in Colorado continues early this week.

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July 30, 2014

Still Room for Congress on Patent Fee-Shifting, USPTO’s Lee Says

The deputy director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office said on Wednesday that “legislative clarification” is still possible on the issue of fee-shifting in patent lawsuits, even after two Supreme Court decisions on the matter earlier this year.

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