(1) In a Daily Caller commentary entitled “Conservatives and Libertarians Should Support America’s Copyright Protections, Not Malign Them” I highlight the causal connection between U.S. intellectual property (IP) protections and our unmatched artistic and technological dominance:
America’s system of copyright and intellectual property (IP) protections, which incentivize creators and reward their efforts, has resulted in the most innovative, influential, artistic, and prosperous nation in human history. No country or alternative system even rivals our record of creative preeminence in music, movies, television shows, news, and literature.”
On that basis, I also address some myths regarding proposed Congressional legislation entitled the Free Market Royalty Act (FMRA):
That bill would finally end terrestrial radio’s special government privilege against paying performance rights that artists are allowed to negotiate with all other forms of use. Simply put, the proposed legislation doesn’t “regulate the market” as Khanna claims. More accurately, the FMRA seeks to create a more level playing field for all forms of broadcast. Currently, artists aren’t compensated when their works are played on terrestrial radio, except through a cumbersome licensing process. This bill would change that and allow them to negotiate.”
(2) Over at AEI’s TechPolicyDaily.com, Jeffrey Eisenach and James Glassman wrote that “It’s Time to Move Ahead at the FCC”:
The DISCLOSE Act was proposed in 2010 by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md) in the wake of the Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. The act, in our view, was genuinely pernicious and in all likelihood unconstitutional. For example, it would prohibit political contributions by recipients of TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) money and by any firm that received government contracts of more than $10 million.”
The authors agree with Senator Ted Cruz (R – Texas) that it is “understandable and appropriate” to raise questions, but that now the FCC can hopefully move on and act in ways that spawn innovation, incentivize investment and reduce costs for consumers.
On that note, as reported in USA Today, “The U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed venture capitalist Thomas Wheeler to head the FCC and, as a commissioner, Mike O’Rielly, who had been an advisor to Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn, R-Tex.” With these confirmations, the FCC now has a full roster.
(3) At HighTechForum.org, Richard Bennett writes in a piece entitled “IP Transition: The One Percent Problem” that “the way forward is to incentivize the formation of private firms operating with diminishing levels of public subsidy”:
The hardest thing to do in Washington is to unwind a body of regulation with a long history, and the telephone has been around forever in technology terms. In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell picked up a telephone and said: “Mr. Watson–come here–I want to see you.” In 1913, The Justice Department made an out-of-court settlement with AT&T that allowed it to operate as a government-sanctioned monopoly as long as it provided universal service within a defined territory and allowed other telephone systems to interconnect with its network to serve others. By 1984, technology changes made this arrangement untenable and the Justice Department’s anti-monopoly suit against AT&T broke the company up into a number of parts. After 12 years in which the nation’s telecom business was run out of a judge’s chambers, Congress finally passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, imposing new obligations meant to promote competition for local and long-distance telephone service. By 2010, the Telecom Act was irrelevant as telephone users had began to end their Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) subscriptions in favor of mobile telephony and broadband. Today POTS is not economically viable.”
(4) On The Hill’s technology blog, Kate Tummarello and Brendan Sasso update us on events affecting the FCC and FTC:
The government shutdown has forced the Federal Communications Commission to delay the planned auction of the “H block” of wireless spectrum. The commission had set the auction for Jan. 14, but on Monday, the agency announced that date will be bumped back to Jan. 22. House FTC hearing postponed: The House Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade subcommittee has postponed Thursday’s planned hearing on the future of the Federal Trade Commission. The House canceled Thursday’s session so members can attend the funeral of Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.).”
(5) At Politico, Brooks Boliek writes an update piece entitled “FCC Forced to Play Catch-Up After Shutdown”:
The FCC is delaying high-profile actions, including a key spectrum auction, as it plays catch-up after the government shutdown. Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn had originally scheduled an auction for the so-called H-Block for Jan. 14. The auction, which will be the first major airwaves sale since 2008, is now slated to start on Jan. 22, the FCC announced today. That could push it into next year’s fiscal battles. The bill that just passed Congress funds the government through Jan. 15 and raises the debt ceiling through Feb. 7. The shutdown delays add new pressure to the FCC, which is in the midst of major policy initiatives and stuck at three commissioners with two nominees stalled in Congress. The H-Block is the first of a string of planned auctions designed to get more airwaves into the marketplace to feed data-hungry smartphones and power high-speed communications systems. The commission lost critical planning time with most of its nearly 2,000 staffers furloughed for 16 days. ‘These schedule changes are necessary to give potential bidders and commission staff additional time for planning and preparation,’ the FCC said in a public notice issued Monday.”
(6) At Mountain View Voice, Angela Hey details online education innovations in “Coursera Educates Five Million Students and Revenues Start Growing”:
Mountain View’s Coursera offers free online courses from the world’s leading universities. Today, at the Global Mobile Internet Conference in San Francisco’s Moscone Center, Stanford professor Andrew Ng described why he co-founded Coursera, which launched in 2012. The conference, which is also held in Beijing, features mobile apps, wearable devices and connected cars. Ng is director of Stanford’s artificial intelligence laboratory. At Stanford he can teach 400 students. With Coursera he taught 100,000 students in his machine learning class. The other co-founder is Daphne Koller, a Stanford professor of computer science. Five million students have registered Coursera accounts to take MOOCs (massive open online courses).”
(7) Over at Forbes, Steve Forbes himself laments how telecom sector regulations simply aren’t keeping appropriate pace with technological change in “Government Should Mandate that Car Makers Invest Billions in Horse-Drawn Carriages!”:
Should Ford Motor have to reintroduce the Model T instead of investing in new cars that meet the needs of today’s consumers? Should Apple be made to bring back the Apple II instead of investing in new products? Should dental device makers be forced to invest in drills powered not by electricity but by foot pedals? Crazy? Not in telecommunications. Special interests want to require traditional landline telephone companies like Verizon and AT&T to increase investment in antiquated technologies like copper-based telephone services that most consumers are choosing not to use. These phone companies are restricted by archaic regulations that were put in place back when the Bell system was a monopoly. Consumers then had one option, the landline phone.”
(8) Finally, over at Broadcasting & Cable, John Eggerton writes on points of left-right agreement and disagreement in “Public Knowledge, AT&T Weigh in with Hill on IP Trials”:
Public Knowledge and AT&T agree on five touchstones for the IP transition but disagree on AT&T’s suggested trials, according to testimony for an Oct. 23 House Communications Subcommittee hearing on the transition. Harold Feld, senior VP of Public Knowledge, delineated those values in his testimony as follows: service to all Americans, interconnection and competition, consumer protection, reliability, and public safety. Feld adds that AT&T’s suggested IP transition trials should be rejected. However, AT&T countered Feld’s statement, saying the FCC should expedite those ‘real world tests.’ Feld will tell the legislators that test trials are needed, but they must be guided by those values and they should not be the trials AT&T has offered up. In his prepared testimony AT&T senior VP James Cicconi complimented Feld on ‘identifying the key consumer protections needed for a successful IP transition. We may end up differing on details,” he said, “but their framework is sound. Clearly the fundamental principles of universal connectivity, interconnection, consumer protection, reliability and public safety are hallmarks of our Nation’s commitment to communications and cannot be lost in this process.’ Cicconi says its trials offer ‘clear benefits’ with no costs and says AT&T is not looking for the IP world to be a regulation-free zone. ‘We understand that there will be a set of core consumer protections that exist,’ he said. ‘While I might disagree with the FCC on particular matters, I would concede readily the FCC can play a strong role in protecting consumers, and it has demonstrated that in recent years. Public safety should fall within the FCC’s consumer protection mandate as well.’”
And those are your CFIF TechNotes for this week!