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Modernizing the Copyright Office

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | June 11, 2015

For the past two years, Chairman Goodlatte of the House Judiciary Committee has been conducting a comprehensive review of the copyright system, mostly through a series of topical hearings. Many of us who defend copyright against the barbarians saw this process as a threat--as an opportunity for copyright critics to vent before Congress and demand wholesale changes to copyright law. Fortunately, and rather surprisingly, that’s really not what happened. In the course of the hearings, very few aspects of copyright law were revealed as being out-of-step with today’s marketplace and current technology.

In fact, in a recent letter, the Internet Association itself said that existing U.S. copyright law “has adapted well to Internet era.”

One thing that DID come out of the hearings, however, is the need to modernize the Copyright Office itself. Even though the copyright industries now contribute more than $1 trillion to U.S. GDP and comprise 6.7% of the U.S. economy, the Copyright Office itself is still housed as a subset within the Library of Congress, and is widely recognized to be underfunded. Read More >>

Toward a Free Market Agriculture Policy

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | June 3, 2015

A few weeks ago Americans for Limited Government Foundation published a paper by Dr. J. Wesley Burnett of the College of Charleston on "Moving to a Free Market Agriculture Policy." It's a great, short survey of U.S. agriculture policy, especially of recent policy changes, and the role of U.S. agriculture in global agriculture markets. If you're looking for an accessible way to get up-to-speed on federal agriculture policies, this paper is a great means of doing so.

I was drawn to the paper because it also touches on sugar policy reform, something I've written on a couple of times recently for IPI. The paper endorses a multilateral approach to solving the sugar subsidy problem, as I have also suggested. Read More >>

An Important Supporting Argument for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | May 31, 2015

An important (though not primary) argument for the importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, and thus for the importance of trade promotion authority (TPA):

"The only thing that could stop China from dominating Asia would be if a hostile, sustainable alliance of Pacific Rim nations emerged." Read More >>

The Lie at the Heart of the Denton Fracking Ban

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | May 31, 2015

I thought we were finally finished with this.

And then, last Wednesday on the Diane Rehm Show, with another of her typical three vs. one panels, it all came back.

Not only did Texas learn from the Denton Disaster and take steps to prevent it from happening again, but so did Oklahoma, passing a clear ban on cities attempting to regulate below-the-surface issues such as drilling techniques and either blatant or de facto bans on fracking.

During Diane’s show, several called from Denton, and at least one of them repeated the lie that is at the core of the Denton fracking ban, or more specifically, the lie they keep repeating.

What is that lie? “We tried to regulate drilling activity, and it didn’t work. The fracking companies just ignored the regulations.”

Extended dance remix version of the lie: “We passed restrictions in Denton on the gas companies, but they still found ways to skirt the regulations and do whatever they wanted to do.” Read More >>

Webcast Tonight: Merrill Matthews Speaks At Cancer Specialist Conference

Posted by Erin Humiston | Comments | May 29, 2015

IPI's Dr. Merrill Matthews joins ASCO, the world's largest conference of cancer specialists, tonight in Chicago to discuss the role research and development plays in fighting cancer and why innovation is critical for patients.  Read More >>

NBC Local DFW Affiliate Features IPI on "Denton Fracking Bill"

Posted by Erin Humiston | Comments | May 8, 2015

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to sign HB 40, a bill passed by the Texas Legislature that would pre-empt cities from banning hydraulic fracturing. IPI president Tom Giovanetti is featured in this NBC Channel 5 news package by Denton County reporter Brian Scott calling the passage of the “Denton fracking bill” a victory, saying it reasserts state law and protects free enterprise as well as the rights of  mineral owners.  Read More >>

Now Is the Time for Republicans to Back TPA (Trade Promotion Authority)

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | May 2, 2015

Republicans should enthusiastically support Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). Yes, Obama is mostly right on trade. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

This TPA extends past the Obama admin into the next, hopefully Republican, administration. So it's not just for Obama.

"Why not wait until we're sure the next president is a Republican?" some say. Here's the problem: Right now you can peel off a certain number of Dem votes for TPA because it's for a Dem president. If a Republican is president, you'll never get those Dem votes.

Now is the time for TPA. Not just because it's right, but because it's in the strategic interest of the next (hopefully) Republican president as well. Read More >>

IPI on 'Lone Star Politics'

Posted by Erin Humiston | Comments | April 26, 2015

IPI president Tom Giovanetti joins NBC's Kristi Nelson and Todd Robberson of the Dallas Morning News on Lone Star Politics to discuss a bill moving through the Texas Legislature that would halt cities from outright bans on hydraulic fracking, discussing how rule of law should govern local rulemaking, not simply majority rule. Video begins at 10:34.  Read More >>

Something You Probably Don't Know About Electronic Privacy

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | April 10, 2015

Here's what you probably don't know: A 1986 law, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), governs much of the electronic privacy activities of the government. And here's the weird thing--it provides protections for electronic data that is LESS than 180 days old, but not for data that is OLDER than 180 days.

Why did policy makers think that distinction made sense? I don't know, but it's one example of how a law written 30 years ago is completely out-of-date and incapable of governing the current data storage practices in the Internet Age. And especially in the age of cloud storage. Read More >>

State of Tennessee vs. Federal Communications Commission

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | April 1, 2015

I've just received a copy of the lawsuit from the State of Tennessee against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for the FCC's order that attempts to overturn laws passed in states regulating municipal broadband networks in those states.

The argument is pretty clear and straightforward, as indeed I think it is. This is a most blatant violation of federalism. There is no constitutional grounds for a federal regulator to think it can overturn laws passed by the duly elected legislatures of the states.

In the Order, the FCC preempts Tennessee law pertaining to the operation of municipal electric plants, including the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, an instrumentality of the City of Chattanooga, created and controlled by the State of Tennessee. In doing so, the FCC has unlawfully inserted itself between the State of Tennessee and the State's own political subdivisions. The State of Tennessee, as a sovereign and a party to the proceeding below, is aggrieved and seeks relief on the grounds that the Order 1) is contrary to the United States Constitution; 2) is in excess of the Commission's authority; 3) is arbitary, capricious and an abuse of discretion within the meaning of the Administrative Procedures Act; and 4) is otherwise contrary to law. . . . Accordingly, the State of Tennessee respectfully requests that this Court hold unlawful, vacate, enjoin, and set aside the Order, and provide such additional relief as may be appropriate.

Amen. Read More >>

An Exchange of Hill Letters on Copyright

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | March 11, 2015

Texas Legislature Attempts to Rein-in Rogue Municipalities

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | March 11, 2015

I'm delighted that the Texas Legislature is considering legislation designed to address a concern I described in an op/ed in the Dallas Morning News a few weeks ago: That of municipalities taking away rights and protections of their citizens by majority vote on referenda.

My favorite line from my op/ed:

If I may be permitted a bit of hyperbole, tyranny isn’t OK just because it is approved by a majority of your fellow townsfolk. Read More >>

The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), Another Voluntary Agreement to Reduce Piracy

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | March 8, 2015

IPI has long been involved in explaining to policy makers the many harms of copyright piracy. These harms extend beyond the obvious losses to the property owners and affect many downstream businesses that depend on getting business and employment from the copyright industries.

And it’s not a stretch to say that ignoring blatant, widespread piracy contributes to the erosion of rule of law and property rights. It’s problematic to say the least when a culture decides that they no longer need to respect the ownership of property simply because it’s become easy to steal and hard to prosecute.

Further, it’s reasonable to think that, over time, toleration of widespread and blatant piracy will have at least a marginal impact on the incentive to create high-quality content—the kind of content that requires substantial up-front risk and investment to create. No, piracy probably doesn’t impact your incentive to film your dog running around chasing its tail and post that on the Internet, but it certainly does impact the willingness of a record company or film production company to put millions of dollars at risk.

These are some of the reasons why we’ve argued that the United States has many reasons to facilitate the defense of intellectual property rights and to discourage illegal piracy of intellectual property, both domestically and internationally.

But in a free society, rule of law is reinforced not only by government action, but also by the voluntary actions of responsible people in the marketplace. We’ve also argued that, eventually, the interests of the entire Internet economy will converge around the importance of protecting content. A healthy Internet ecosystem requires rule-of-law, property rights, and the other basic institutions of a free society. There is nothing about the Internet that logically puts it at odds with the institutions of civil society that have been recognized as necessary for the function of analog society.

So we celebrated the Copyright Alert System (CAS), a voluntary agreement between content owners and ISPs to notify broadband customers that piracy has been detected on their accounts. And it’s why we’re pleased about the new Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), a voluntary agreement between content owners and advertisers to avoid having their brands associated with illegal pirate websites. Read More >>

Liberal Anti-Fracking Groups Getting Funding from Secretive Russia-Connected Sources

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | January 27, 2015

Very interesting and well-researched piece today suggesting that the evidence is piling up about U.S. anti-fracking campaigns being funded (in part at least) by Russian interests.

Read the whole thing. Very detailed. But here's an excerpt:

A shadowy Bermudan company that has funneled tens of millions of dollars to anti-fracking environmentalist groups in the United States is run by executives with deep ties to Russian oil interests and offshore money laundering schemes involving members of President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.

One of those executives, Nicholas Hoskins, is a director at a hedge fund management firm that has invested heavily in Russian oil and gas. He is also senior counsel at the Bermudan law firm Wakefield Quin and the vice president of a London-based investment firm whose president until recently chaired the board of the state-owned Russian oil company Rosneft. Read More >>

An Issue In Which We Can Agree: Fast Tracking the TPP

Posted by Erin Humiston | Comments | January 22, 2015

Trade may be the one area in which Congressional Republicans and the president can work together, and Obama has called the Trans Pacific Partnership a high priority that would not only strengthen the U.S. as a leader in the Pacific Rim, but also create jobs, boost investment, and be a boon to small businesses.   

  Read More >>

 

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