Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 17, 2014

Posts in "Intellectual Property"

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.

Full story

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.

Full story

July 28, 2014

This Week: Wireless Cramming, Minority Media and Microsoft’s Data Warrant

The highlights include a look at Microsoft’s challenge of a warrant for data located in Ireland, a Senate hearing on wireless cramming and a conference on issues for minority media and telecom businesses.

Full story

July 25, 2014

Cellphone ‘Unlocking’ Bill Now Just Needs the President’s Signature

As House lawmakers left town for the weekend, they sent the president a bill that would again let cellphone users “unlock” their devices to switch wireless carriers without violating copyright law.

Full story

Should There Be a System for Resolving Small Copyright Claims?

Some lawmakers appear interested in the idea of a small claims system for resolving copyright infringement disputes, or were at least asking questions about it at a House hearing Thursday.

Last year, the Copyright Office, following a congressional request, issued a report on small copyright claims that said small copyright owners face “formidable challenges” in pursuing infringement claims under the current system and proposed a voluntary system for addressing small claims within the Copyright Office that would serve as an alternative to going to federal court.

“What are your views on the Copyright Office recommendation for a small copyright claims system?” Howard Coble, R-N.C., asked witnesses at a Thursday House Judiciary Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet Subcommittee hearing on copyright infringement penalties.

Full story

July 24, 2014

The Issue of ‘Trolls’ Apparently Isn’t Limited to Patents

The issue of patent “trolls” has been a high-profile issue in Washington, but the issue of copyright “trolls” also cropped up at a House hearing on Wednesday.

Full story

July 22, 2014

The Question of Damages for Design Patents

Does the system for penalizing infringement of design patents — basically, protections for how things look — need to be examined?

Full story

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