April 29th, 2016 at 11:42 am
Yesterday’s GDP Report Confirms Our Commentary on Obama’s Economic Record
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In this week’s Liberty Update, we highlight the falsity of the persistent claim that Barack Obama somehow prevented a great depression:

[T]he federal government’s own economic data shows that Obama actually inherited an emerging recovery.  The American economy was already rebounding before he even officially became president.  What he has done is impose policies that have resulted in the slowest decade of economic growth in recorded U.S. history.”

Yesterday’s official report on first-quarter 2016 economic performance provided same-day confirmation.  More specifically, the U.S. Commerce Department announced that gross domestic product (GDP), the basic metric by which the economy is measured and by which recessions and recoveries are defined, grew at a disturbing 0.5%.  Not only is that number alarmingly low, it amounts to the worst mark in two years.  Echoing our own commentary, The Wall Street Journal emphasizes how this places Obama’s legacy in perspective:

The reality is that the first quarter is further evidence of what has been the weakest economic expansion in the postwar era.  The 0.5% growth is subject to revision but it follows 1.4% in the fourth quarter.  Growth over the last six months has averaged about 1%, and under 2% over the last 12 months…  The American economy hasn’t grown by more than 3% since 2005 (3.3%), the longest such stretch of malaise that we can find in the Bureau of Economic Analysis tables going back to 1930.  Even the Great Depression saw a snapback to rapid growth from 1934-1936.”

The explanation for that is simple.  Obama has pursued the most hyper-regulatory, big-government, wasteful-spending economic policy in U.S. history.   That’s illustrated among other things by his horrific deficit record, which saw four consecutive deficits in excess of $1 trillion dollars, and more accumulated debt than all previous presidents combined.  Until America has a president and Congress that pursue the proven supply-side policies that result in economic prosperity (see, e.g., Ronald Reagan), this will likely remain the new normal.


April 27th, 2016 at 6:45 pm
TechNotes: Market Continues to Work Without FCC Meddling
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Throughout the Obama Era, his Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has destructively imposed regulation after regulation upon a tech and telecommunications market that was not broken.  Indeed, that sector has thrived like no other in the modern American economy.

An announcement today from Comcast provided just the latest evidence of that thriving market.

Specifically, Executive Vice President of Consumer Services Marcien Jenckes announced an Internet data trial that will introduce a terabyte data plan to its offerings.  Beginning June 1, data plans in trial markets will upgrade from 300 gigabytes to one terabyte, regardless of speed.

To place that in perspective, their average customer reportedly uses only 60 gigabytes per month – 940 gigabytes short of a terabyte.  A terabyte allows streaming of 700 hours of high-definition video, 12,000 hours of online gaming and 60,000 high-resolution photo downloads in a month.  Fewer than 1% of its customers even approach a terabyte in monthly usage, and even they will be free under the new plan to receive unlimited data for merely $50 more per month or individual increments of 50 gigabytes for $10.

In other words, the market is working without FCC “solutions” to non-existent problems.  This announcement offers merely the latest proof.


April 26th, 2016 at 4:01 pm
CFIF Celebrates World Intellectual Property (IP) Day
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Please join CFIF in celebrating World IP Day!

Over more than two centuries, the U.S. has become the most innovative, prosperous and powerful nation in human history, without even remote competition.  What nation in all of recorded history rivals our array of patented advancements, from the light bulb to powered flight to computer technology to lifesaving pharmaceutical and medical advancements?  What nation has so dominated the world in terms of copyrighted content, from blockbuster films to popular music to literature to television entertainment?  What nation has ever maintained such disproportionately high levels of valuable trademarks recognized instantaneously throughout the world, from soft drink logos to technological products that have revolutionized our lives?

The simple answer is that no society rivals the U.S. in any one of those categories, let alone all of them simultaneously.

And that is the direct result of America’s tradition of strong IP protections, as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s annual International IP Index makes clear.  Our Founding Fathers specifically protected IP rights in the text of the Constitution, and the U.S. has consistently led the world in protecting IP rights.  The relationship between America’s IP protections and our unrivaled innovation and prosperity therefore isn’t coincidental, it’s causal.

So today let us celebrate IP, which accounts for over 40 million American jobs, rewards innovation, incentivizes inventiveness and helps ensure safe and genuine products for consumers.


April 26th, 2016 at 3:30 pm
Congress: Don’t Reward Russian Aggression by Purchasing Their Rockets
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

During the 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney presciently identified Russia as America’s foremost global threat.  Barack Obama and his apologists immediately heaped scorn upon Romney, including Obama’s sophomoric “the 1980s called” remark during one debate.

History, however, has vindicated Romney’s pronouncement.

Reflecting upon events since that date, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James stated in July 2015, “I do consider Russia to be the biggest threat.”  And none other than Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Joseph Dunford proclaimed that same month, “If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I would have to point to Russia, and if you look at their behavior, it’s nothing short of alarming.”

To its credit, Congress acted accordingly.  Following Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and its broader pattern of malfeasance across the globe, Congress, as part of two consecutive National Defense Authorization Acts, overwhelmingly supported a gradual phase out of purchases of Russian rocket engines through no sooner than 2020. The law could not have been any more accommodating without allowing indefinite purchases of these engines.

Sadly, today some seek to reverse that prudent Congressional action by sending some $540 million more to the Russian government for at least 18 new Russian RD-180 engines. Despite the law unambiguously allowing engines through at least 2020, they claim that they’re needed until a new domestically-manufactured engine arrives in 2019.  Those claims, however, do not accord with reality.  Senator John McCain (R – Arizona) summarized that reality cogently:

Today, we have two space launch providers – ULA and SpaceX – that, no matter what happens with the Russian RD-180, will be able to provide fully redundant capabilities with ULA’s Delta IV and SpaceX’s Falcon 9, and eventually, the Falcon Heavy space launch vehicles.  There will be no capability gap.  The Atlas V is not going anywhere anytime soon.”

He further noted that ending reliance would not result in increased costs to the taxpayer.

In fact, according to [the Department of Defense Office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation], the cost of meeting assured access to space requirements without the use of Russian rocket engines could be similar to what we pay today.”

Reversing America’s existing prohibition would merely reward Russian behavior and thereby undermine global and national security.  As evidence, consider the words of Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin:

The sale of engines benefits our engine making enterprises, in that they use the money for their own modernization…  We need the most modern engines that produce more thrust.  In order to design them, we need free money.”

Notably, rogue nations like Iran remain prime beneficiaries of Russian rocket technological advances.

The Obama Administration’s infamous “reset” attempt with Russia several years ago stands among its most costly foreign policy misjudgments.  We cannot afford to repeat that mistake by failing to learn from our mistakes and rewarding Russia’s worldwide menace.


April 25th, 2016 at 3:47 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Radio Show Lineup
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Join CFIF Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President Renee Giachino today from 4:00 p.m. CDT to 6:00 p.m. CDT (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EDT) on Northwest Florida’s 1330 AM WEBY, as she hosts her radio show, “Your Turn: Meeting Nonsense with Commonsense.”  Today’s guest lineup includes:

4:00 CDT/5:00 pm EDT: Katharine Stevens, Research Fellow in Education Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute: Does Pre-K Work?;

4:15 CDT/5:15 pm EDT: Hans von Spakovsky, Senior Legal Fellow at There Heritage Foundation’s Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and Former FEC Commissioner: Electoral College;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT: Bonner R. Cohen, Ph.D., Senior Policy Analyst with Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow: “Climate Hustle”;

4:45 CDT/5:45 pm EDT: W. James Antle, III, Washington Examiner’s Politics Editor: 54 Delegates Who Could Pick the GOP Nominee;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT: Tom Schatz, President of Citizens Against Government Waste: 2016 Congressional Pig Book; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT: Lawrence Schonbrun, Nationally Acclaimed Class Action Legal Reformer: Excessive Attorneys’ Fees.

Listen live on the Internet here.   Call in to share your comments or ask questions of today’s guests at (850) 623-1330.


April 20th, 2016 at 4:41 pm
The USS No Repect
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.


April 20th, 2016 at 4:01 pm
Xfinity Announcement Demonstrates Folly of FCC Set-Top Box Regulatory Proposal
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Alongside other free market organizations, CFIF adamantly opposes a new proposal by the Obama Administration’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate cable television set-top boxes.

More specifically, Obama’s FCC seeks to impose a 1990s-vintage, one-size-fits-all mandate to make cable TV set-top boxes artificially compatible with third-party devices.  As we have detailed, the proposed regulation constitutes crony capitalism in its worst form, it poses a threat to consumer privacy, it undermines the creative community and jeopardizes intellectual property protections by potentially facilitating piracy.  In addition to those problems, it also constitutes an anachronism in the sense that it freezes in place an outdated set-top box  model that is already being left behind by technological advance and private sector innovation.  Cable companies and other entertainment industry players are already abandoning traditional cable boxes in favor of devices owned and maintained by individual consumers as they choose.

Today’s announcement of the new joint Xfinity TV Partner Program between Comcast, Samsung and Roku provides just the latest example illustrating that dynamic.  Stated simply, consumers can access their cable subscription via the Xfinity TV Partner app that will be compatible with RokuTV and Roku devices.  Thus, without the need for a set-top box at all, customers can now access live, on-demand, cloud, DVR and other televised content on smart TVs and other IP-enabled technology.

What this shows is that the video entertainment and app markets continue to evolve alongside consumer demand, rendering the FCC’s set-top box proposal obsolete before it can even be imposed.  The new regulation would disrupt market innovation of this sort while threatening the privacy and piracy perils noted above.  Simply put, the marketplace is working, and this latest FCC “solution” to a non-existent problem will only create more problems.

As we have emphasized, and as any American who watches television well knows, there is no realm of contemporary life that manifests innovation, consumer choice, quality, affordability and sheer enjoyment than the video entertainment sector.  The variety and excellence of today’s video choices continues to expand at breakneck speed and literally on a daily basis.

Today’s news serves to confirm that reality, and demonstrates why leaders in Congress, the innovation community, consumer groups and everyday American consumers should stand together and oppose this latest FCC overreach.


April 20th, 2016 at 11:10 am
Piracy, Data and AllVid: If Past is Prologue, Creators Should Worry a Google Delivered Pay-TV Service Would Promote Pirated Content
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

This is an amazing time for the film and TV industry, as audiences have never possessed more entertainment choices on more platforms.

To illustrate, FX Networks recently conducted a study demonstrating that the total number of scripted series (think dramas and comedies, not reality-TV) across cable, satellite and online increased to 409 in 2015. That represents a 94% increase from 2009, with a 174% growth in scripted series on basic cable (181 vs. 66). What’s more, all this great content is widely available online. SNL Kagan recently released a report finding that “98% of premium films and 94% of premium TV series were digitally available on at least one of the online services that were reviewed.”

Given this explosion of creativity and innovation, a sense of growing and justifiable bewilderment in the creative community exists over a recent FCC proposal, commonly referred to as “AllVid,” that would force creators, networks, and pay-TV providers to give away their products and services for tech giants like Google to exploit for their own commercial purposes. The beneficiaries of this government handout would be free to repackage video content as they see fit, drop programming or bury it on the channel guide, add their own advertising and strip out existing ads, and mine viewer data – all without negotiating with cable programmers or distributors or adhering to privacy laws and regulations that apply to traditional providers.

Further, there is nothing in the proposed rule to stop tech companies from combining legitimate content with video from piracy sources. “Walking Dead” producer Gale Ann Hurd articulated these concerns well in a recent USA Today op-ed stating:

[The proposal] would also allow Google — and for that matter set-top box manufacturers from all over the world, including China (where rogue boxes are being built by the millions) — to create and market applications or boxes with software that will treat legitimate and stolen material exactly the same, and may in many cases help to steer consumers to piracy.”

Her concern regarding piracy-laden devices is legitimate. As just one recent example, the UK’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit arrested six people for selling Android set-top boxes modified to deliver illegal movies and TV shows. And Hurd’s concerns about boxes manufactured in China are made plain in this Forbes article.

Proponents of AllVid claim they merely want to show consumers “all their video,” meaning they want to mix and match content from YouTube and other online sources with pay-TV. Setting aside the fact that existing technologies like Roku and Apple TV already provide that capability, the creative community is understandably nervous about stolen content appearing alongside legitimate video if Google gets its way with the set top box proposal. As Hurd points out, “Google’s search engine does this today. Here’s what happens when I search “www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=watch+Fear+the+Walking+Dead">watch www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=watch+Fear+the+Walking+Dead">Fear the Walking Dead.

The role search plays in facilitating piracy is significant, so those concerns about the mixing of stolen online video with legal pay-TV content are well founded. According to one survey, 74% of consumers say they used a search engine when they first viewed pirated content. And researches at Carnegie Mellon University conducted an experiment conclusively demonstrating that search rankings drive consumer behavior. The more prominently pirated content appears in search results, the more likely consumers are to choose it.

Worse, TorrentFreak recently reported that Google Now is pushing links to piracy sites, even when consumers don’t engage in any search at all. As TorrentFreak explains:

Google can’t read people’s minds but it does harvest data from Google accounts in order to provide its Now services. That includes your search and location history, sites you’ve visited and the content of Gmail messages. It can also access your phone contacts, calendar entries and even certain apps.”

In this instance, after Google Now determined that user Ryan Raab had “shown an interest” in the movie “Deadpool,” it proactively delivered a link to one of the largest torrent sites in the world, 1337x (see the screenshot below).  The troubling nature of this behavior can’t be understated. Based on data collected across multiple services, Google’s algorithm unilaterally suggested Raab access stolen content – without any action on his part. The FCC’s proposal would only increase the likelihood that Google continues to engage in such irresponsible conduct.

Creators like Hurd have fought hard to keep the pay-TV environment piracy-free. But the FCC – in its eagerness to foment “innovation” – seems determined to compromise the integrity of the creative ecosystem that has produced an explosion of creativity and innovation. AllVid supporters see content merely as bait – a digital lure to attract their ultimate prize: data. If Google and the FCC succeed, creative content could be taken without negotiation or compensation and used by large tech companies to collect consumer viewing data – thereby undermining the economics of creation and consumer trust in one fell swoop.

Or as Hurd puts it, “I’m afraid that all of us who create, market and broadcast legitimate content will be like the zombies on my show: the walking dead.”


April 15th, 2016 at 8:22 am
Podcast: Corporate Inversions and Tax Reform
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Michi Iljazi, Communications and Policy Manager for the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA), discusses so-called corporate inversions, what they are and why the outdated U.S. tax code must be reformed to cure the underlining problem, as well as TPA’s latest Tax Day video.

Listen to the interview here.


April 14th, 2016 at 2:56 pm
‘Dear Doctor Obama: Cure the disease instead of focusing on symptoms’
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an op-ed published yesterday in The Hill, CFIF’s Timothy Lee explains why President Obama and the Treasury Department are wrong on corporate tax inversions and the only way to prevent them is to enact comprehensive tax reform now.

The simple reality is that our corporate tax rate of 35% – the highest among OECD nations – jeopardizes every domestic corporation’s very survival in an increasingly competitive global economy. Moreover, because public corporations remain under a legal fiduciary duty to their shareholders to run the most efficient operation possible, America’s unsustainably high tax rate leaves them with little choice but to explore inversion opportunities.

Tragically, even President Obama understands that reality. On several occasions, he has called for comprehensive tax reform that included lowering the corporate tax rate to a more globally competitive level. It defies logic and experience that the president called for lower tax rates out of some sentimental affection toward American corporations. Rather, he clearly understands that cutting America’s corporate tax rate allows domestic businesses a better chance of growing and competing on the international stage.

To remedy the situation, Congress must take concrete steps towards comprehensive tax reform now…There is still enough time in 2016 to achieve a deal.

Read the entire op-ed here.


April 13th, 2016 at 11:37 am
CFIF’s Response to House Natural Resources Committee re: PROMESA
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Linked here and below is a letter to House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop, which serves as our response to his invitation for CFIF’s Timothy Lee to testify at today’s legislative hearing regarding HR 4900, the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA).

Read the letter here (PDF).


April 11th, 2016 at 1:06 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Radio Lineup
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Join CFIF Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President Renee Giachino today from 4:00 p.m. CDT to 6:00 p.m. CDT (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EDT) on Northwest Florida’s 1330 AM WEBY, as she hosts her radio show, “Your Turn: Meeting Nonsense with Commonsense.”  Today’s guest lineup includes:

4:00 CDT/5:00 pm EDT:  Sam Kazman, General Counsel at the Competitive Enterprise Institute – CEI’s Subpoena from US Virgin Islands Attorney General on Climate Change Policy;

4:15 CDT/5:15 pm EDT:  Jim Phillips, Senior Research Fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at The Heritage Foundation – Is ISIS developing a dirty bomb?

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT:  Michi Iljazi, Communications and Policy Manager for the Taxpayers Protection Alliance – Corporate Inversions, Hillary Clinton’s Attacks on Business, US Postal Service, and Tax Day;

4:45 CDT/5:45 pm EDT:  Kevin Corinth, Research Fellow in Economic Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute – Smartphones for the Homeless

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT:  Jeffrey J. Selingo, Author and Higher Education Expert – “There is Life After College: What Parents and Students Should Know About Navigating School to Prepare for the Jobs of Tomorrow”; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs – Puerto Rico, Internal Revenue Service and the Second Amendment.

Listen live on the Internet here.   Call in to share your comments or ask questions of today’s guests at (850) 623-1330


April 8th, 2016 at 10:31 am
Puerto Rico: Representatives Say They Oppose Bailout, But That’s Exactly What “Super Chapter 9″ Bill Means
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

CFIF opposes the dangerous proposed “Super Chapter 9″ bankruptcy legislation for Puerto Rico (under the title “Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act” or “PROMESA”), which was recently released by the Committee on Natural Resources in the House of Representatives.

Believe it or not, that proposed bill constitutes an even more dangerous version of the Obama Administration’s unprecedented bailout proposal, leaving American savers and retirees to pay the price for the fiscal irresponsibility of politicians in Puerto Rico.  It also would create a dangerous precedent encouraging high-spending states like Illinois to seek the same bailout from Congress, it would raise borrowing costs for states, it would undermine the value of retirement funds across America and it would remove any incentive for fiscally irresponsible states to enact meaningful reform.

Unfortunately, some in Congress claim to oppose a bailout for Puerto Rico without recognizing and acknowledging that the proposed legislation means exactly that.  Representative Rob Bishop (R – Utah) offers a leading example, saying that, “there will be no bankruptcy, there will be no bailout.”

Fortunately, Mainstreet Bondholders, a project of the 60 Plus Association, provides a useful corrective appropriately entitled “Read the Bishop Bill – This Is Super Chapter 9″.  It itemizes in easily-understood bullet-point terms how, “Insisting that this bill is not Chapter 9, and simply renaming it something else, does not change the substance of the legislation.  Make no mistake – this is exactly what the Obama Administration asked for when it lobbied for Super Chapter 9!”  It is worth the quick read.

Those who support the proposed legislation, including Rep. Bishop, may have their hearts in the right place.  But that doesn’t change the fact that the bill would bring precisely the sort of bailout on the backs of Americans they purport to oppose.

We at CFIF therefore ask all Americans to contact their elected representatives in Congress to express their unequivocal opposition to the House’s “Super Chapter 9″ bailout plan for Puerto Rico and its spendthrift politicians.


April 8th, 2016 at 7:49 am
Video: FCC Parties Like It’s 1994
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In this week’s Freedom Minute, CFIF’s Renee Giachino discusses the absurdity of the Federal Communications Commission’s cable set-top box proposal.


April 5th, 2016 at 2:14 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: Hillary’s Dinner With James Comey
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.



April 4th, 2016 at 3:53 pm
Bipartisan House Request to GAO: Investigate FCC’s Set-Top Box Proposal
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

We at CFIF recently highlighted a dangerous new regulatory proposal from the Obama Administration’s rogue Federal Communications Commission (FCC):  Its set-top box proposal that simultaneously embodies crony capitalism, regulatory overreach and technological sclerosis:

The latest manifestation is a new initiative from Obama’s overactive FCC to impose a one-size-fits-all mandate to make cable television set-top boxes artificially compatible with third-party entertainment devices.  In other words, even as cable companies themselves voluntarily move in the direction of abandoning traditional cable boxes and toward devices owned and maintained by individual customers as they so choose, the FCC wants to impose 1990s-style regulation on the industry.  That would essentially freeze in place the increasingly outdated model of set-top cable boxes even as it becomes increasingly anachronistic on its own.”

Fortunately, there’s good news to report.

Specifically, a bipartisan House Communications and Technology Subcommittee coalition led by Chairman Greg Walden (R – Oregon) and committee member Yvette Clarke (D – New York) sent a letter on Friday asking the nonpartisan federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate the FCC’s set-top box proposal.  For those unfamiliar with the GAO, it is popularly known as the “Congressional Watchdog,” and is more officially the agency that provides investigatory and auditing services to Congress of various institutions within the federal government.  The joint letter highlights their concerns and requests a formal GAO examination:

We are concerned that the agency’s efforts do not include a meaningful assessment of the effects on independent and diverse networks, whose business models may be greatly threatened and undermined by the FCC’s proposed rules.  The FCC must proceed with a better understanding of how their proposed rules could limit diversity and inclusion on our nations shared media platforms.  We are requesting that the U.S. Government Accountability Office examine the impact of the FCC’s proposal to change the rules regarding cable set top boxes on small, independent, and multicultural media programmers and content providers.”

This constitutes great news.

It shows a bipartisan Congressional concern over the broad array of potential damage that the FCC’s proposed set-top box regulation would inflict.  And Congress isn’t alone.  A diverse group of consumer groups, innovators, employers and businesses join in opposing the proposal, which offers optimism that it will be rightfully stopped before further damage occurs.


March 31st, 2016 at 5:13 pm
FCC Moves Forward With Unfair and Unnecessary New Broadband “Privacy” Rules
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today voted to move forward with consideration of proposed new “privacy” regulations targeted at Internet Service Providers (ISPs).  What follows is a statement by Center for Individual Freedom (CFIF) President Jeffrey Mazzella:

This latest effort by the FCC is nothing more than the Commission once again picking winners and losers in the marketplace. These regulations on ISPs do nothing to prevent the online data collection practices used profusely by others throughout the Internet economy, while constricting the development of new business practices and distorting the robust digital marketplace.

The prescriptive regulations voted on today also circumvent the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) expertise in this area. The FTC’s proven framework on privacy has worked to protect consumers for decades while encouraging the growth of the Internet we have today.

Rather than finding ways to cement the presence of FCC bureaucracy in our daily lives, the Commission should reconsider its regulations on so-called ‘privacy’ and instead focus on pro-growth solutions for a robust mobile marketplace.

###


March 30th, 2016 at 4:21 pm
Coalition Urges Congress to Pass a Regulatory Budget
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In a letter sent today to Congress, the Center for Individual Freedom (”CFIF”) joined a coalition of more than a dozen national organizations in calling on Congress to “implement a regulatory budget to address the cost of federal regulations, which frequently have an effect similar to tax increases. Like federal spending, regulations and their costs should be capped, tracked and disclosed annually.”

The letter, which was organized by our friends at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, can be read by clicking here.


March 30th, 2016 at 12:45 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: Is ISIS a Threat to America?
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.


March 25th, 2016 at 5:17 pm
Senate VENUE Act: Badly-Needed Venue Reform in Patent Litigation
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

CFIF strongly favors comprehensive patent litigation reform, in particular the Innovation Act that passed by a bipartisan 325-91 House vote in the last Congress.  Venue reform constitutes one important part of that broader effort, which CFIF has also emphasized.

By way of review, current federal rules allow patent lawsuits to be filed almost anywhere, which in turn allows plaintiffs to file in districts where no defendant resides, where no substantial portion of the events in dispute occurred and where few if any relevant witnesses and evidence are situated.

As we have noted, one manifestation that of venue abuse problem is the preposterous overabundance of patent lawsuits in a single federal district – the Eastern District of Texas:

Since 2009  alone the total number of patent lawsuits in the United States has more than doubled from 2,500 to over 6,000 in 2014.  And of that total, a preposterous 44% of new patent lawsuits last year were filed in a single federal court district, the Eastern District of Texas.  Even more preposterously, one judge in that district – Rodney Gilstrap – oversees 900 cases and actually accounts for almost one-fifth of all patent lawsuits in the entire U.S.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys game the system by suing in the Eastern District of Texas for a variety of reasons, including its reluctance to allow transfer of cases to more appropriate districts, its prevalence of high ‘jackpot jury’ awards, its willingness to allow excessive document and witness discovery demands, its friendly verdict rate and its local court rules favorable to plaintiffs.  The district is so notoriously welcoming that plaintiffs create artificial connections such as bogus offices and document warehouses for the sole reason of convincing judges to keep cases there.”

Fortunately, Senators Mike Lee (R – Utah), Cory Gardner (R – Colorado) and Jeff Flake (R – Arizona) have introduced legislation to surgically pursue venue reform.

Their Venue Equity and Non-Uniformity Elimination Act (VENUE Act) of 2016 (S. 2733) would limit litigants’ ability to game the system and play “jackpot justice” when choosing the district in which to sue.  Stated simply, the VENUE Act would now require plaintiffs to sue in districts more appropriate for the case in question and convenient for the parties and witnesses.  No longer would plaintiffs possess almost unlimited ability to drive opposing parties to nuisance settlements by filing in faraway districts untethered to the parties or legal issues.  Instead, patent lawsuits would be litigated in districts where defendants’ principle places of business are located, where the patent holders and important witnesses reside, where the evidence is more centralized or where the more substantial portion of alleged infringements occurred.

It should be noted that the VENUE Act would still allow parties to voluntarily agree amongst themselves to a particular district, so this wouldn’t constitute a one-size-fits-all mandate.

Although comprehensive patent litigation reform remains the goal, the VENUE Act advances the ball on this issue in an important manner.  We therefore encourage our supporters and activists across the country to contact their Senators and express support for this important patent litigation venue reform bill.