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June 5 is World Anti-Counterfeiting Day

Posted by Erin Humiston | Comments | June 5, 2014

Be judicious when you buy. That "steal of a deal" may cost you a lot more than you think. Read More >>

What Has Been Learned from the New Copyright Alert System (CAS)?

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | May 28, 2014

For some time IPI has been at the forefront of arguing in favor of intellectual property protection, since we believe that property rights are the basis of any market-based system, and markets are the best way to allocate goods and services. And particularly in an innovation-based economy, ensuring that innovators and creators are able to reap the rewards of their successful products is the best way to continue to fund a virtuous cycle of innovation.

Most commonly IP is protected through the force of law, since it is a proper role of government to facilitate the protection of private property. But, practically as well as legally, everyone who wants their world to be a world rich in creativity and innovation has an interest in seeing that creators and innovators are rewarded, in order to encourage continued creativity and innovation as envisioned by the American Founders in the Constitution’s Copyright Clause.

Massive on-line piracy, of course, derails the virtuous circle by depriving creators of any hope of reward. But the development of new business models through which content can be legally obtained on-line means that today those who might have taken the easy piracy route can be educated and redirected toward an abundance of legal options.

This is what brought Internet providers to the table with content companies some time ago to devise a voluntary system to try to reduce online piracy. Whereas before ISPs had been sometimes accused of having interests opposed to those of the content companies, in the maturing Internet ecosystem it has become clear that all legitimate players in the Internet have an interest in making sure that the Internet is a place rich in creative content, and a place where those who contribute to this richness at least have the option of attempting to monetize their content through various business models. Read More >>

Amendment Would Prevent Administration from Relinquishing Control of the Internet

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | May 27, 2014

Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) will offer an amendment tomorrow to the Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) appropriations bill that would prohibit any funds from being used to relinquish control of the remaining root functions of the Internet to a multistakeholder organization, as is currently planned.

IPI has previously expressed our deep concerns that, while it is true that transferring those functions to the multistakeholder organization imagined by the administration would not mean those functions were subject to political control or United Nations control, it is probably inevitable that such an organization would eventually succumb to pressure. I've mentioned examples such as the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the World Meterological Organization (WMO) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) as similar multistakeholder organizations designed to support a purely technical mission but that became UN organizations and thus subject to the domination of the UN bureaucracy, UN organizational rules, etc.

There is no compelling reason why any of those organizations needed to be within the UN system, but they ended up there. They had specialized, technical functions but now are subject to political mischief because they are part of the UN system. There's every reason to think the same thing will eventually happen to the Internet functions if the U.S. surrenders them, especially since the UN already claims the right to be involved in Internet issues through both the ITU and the Internet Governance Forum (IGF).

IPI was on a panel a few weeks ago discussing this topic, and the CSPAN video is archived here. And if you don't want to watch the video, I blogged on my participation at that event here.

So, while what is currently planned and underway is not transferring control of the Internet to the UN, there is every reason to believe that will be the eventual result. And there is every reason to be very, very concerned about that result.

Congress is right to assert itself in this regard, and to prevent the administration from acting unilaterally to take what is almost certainly a bad step for the Internet. Read More >>

Wait--I Thought "Permissionless Innovation" Was a Thing?

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | May 19, 2014

There has been a lot of rhetoric around the phrase "permissionless innovation" in the last couple of years. I'm not myself comfortable with the phrase, because I think a hallmark of civilization is respect for the property of others, and thus the West has developed an entire permission-based legal culture around property rights.

But others ARE enamored of the idea of permissionless innovation, especially the Internet and tech community.

That's why I am struck in reading through FCC Chairman Wheeler's new 100 page net neutrality NPRM document. Apparently, one of the many things net neutrality means is permissionless innovation for edge companies but NOT for network providers.

Because network providers are going to need permission for a whole lot of things they do. Any new thing they want to try with regard to their business model is going to be subject to some absurd and undefined "commercially reasonable" standard.

How do we determine whether a practice is "commercially reasonable?" Apparently permission will be required of the FCC.

So I will take great joy in the next few months in pointing out they hypocrisy of net neutrality proponents who think permissionless innovation is a virtue—just apparently not for broadband companies.

'Cause it's not as if we want rapid innovation in broadband networks. No, of course not. That would be silly.

Read More >>

Highlights of Commissioner Pai's Net Neutrality Dissent

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | May 18, 2014

Commissioner Pai strikes at the heart of the problem with assuming that the D.C. Circuit court gave the FCC broad authority to impose regulations on broadband. Some highlights:

". . . every American who cares about the future of the Internet should be wary about five unelected officials deciding its fate."

. . .

". . . President Clinton and Congress got it right in the Telecommunications Act of 1996 when they declared the policy of the United States to be 'preserv[ing] the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet . . . unfettered by Federal or State regulation.'"

. . .

"If we are to take the D.C. Circuit at its word, section 706 grants the FCC virtually unfettered authority to encourage broadband adoption and deployment. So if three members of the FCC think that more Americans would go online if they knew their information would be secure, could we impose cybersecurity and encryption standards on website operators? If three members of the FCC think that more Americans would purchase broadband if edge providers were prohibited from targeted advertising, could we impose Do Not Track regulations? Or if three members of the FCC think that more Americans would use the Internet if there were greater privacy protections, could we follow the European Union and impose right-to-be-forgotten mandates? And because section 706 gives state commissions authority equal to the FCC,11 every broadband provider, every online innovator, every Internet-enabled entrepreneur may now have to comply with differing regulations in each of the 50 states. Tesla, Uber, Airbnb, and countless others can attest to the welcome that parochial regulators give to disruptive start-ups." Read More >>

"Welcome to the Stupid Internet" Still Holds Up

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | May 18, 2014

This past week I filmed an episode of the McCuistion program, a public affairs TV show that airs around the country, and the topic was net neutrality. It should air in a couple of months.

The program began with Tim Wu's definition of net neutrality, which is essentially the principle of non-discrimination: All bits have to be treated the same, with no discrimination. Essentially, the "dumb pipes" argument all over again.

This emphasis on non-discrimination reminded me of the first op/ed I wrote against net neutrality way back in 2006, in the early days of the net neutrality debate, entitled "Welcome to the Stupid Internet."

The piece is no longer archived on the San Jose Mercury News site, so we keep it archived here.

It's interesting to me that we are still at non-discrimination after all these years.

Of course, David Isenberg didn't like it. But Richard Bennett did, as did Scott Cleland

Here's what I think is interesting: For those eight years, we did not have net neutrality regulations, and the Internet blossomed. So . . . doesn't that mean that net neutrality proponents were wrong, and that the Internet was just fine without net neutrality regulations?

Oldie but goodie.

Read More >>

More Ad Dollars Flow to Pirated Video

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | May 7, 2014

Great piece in today's Wall Street Journal on ad-supported piracy.

Many people still think of piracy as a victimless crime; or rather, of a crime that affects a victim that they don't care about: Big Content, or whatever disparaging name they prefer to use. They like to convey the idea that piracy is simply people "sharing" content that they "care about."

But piracy is big business, and people are profiting from piracy. Valuable content is valuable, and people are going to make money off of valuable content. The only question is whether the profit-makers are those who invested in the creation of the content, or whether it's just parasites who are making the money.

Piracy websites are the criminals, but companies and networks that advertise on those piracy websites are the enablers. And it's appropriate to put pressure on companies and ad networks to ensure that their ads don't run on websites trafficking in illegal content.

In February, nonprofit Internet safety group Digital Citizens Alliance commissioned MediaLink to research how much money these sites are making. MediaLink examined 596 sites where viewers can find pirated movies and TV shows, and estimated those sites generate a total of $227 million in advertising revenue annually. Even "small" piracy sites could make more than $100,000 a year from ad space sold to major brands, the report said, because they don't pay for their content. The profit margins of the sites examined could range from 80% to 94%, based on the costs typically associated with maintaining such sites, which include hosting fees and human resources.

Take zzstream.li, for example, which helps users unearth and stream unlicensed video owned by companies including Home Box Office Inc., Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. In March, it featured advertising for brands including Kraft, Toyota, Target, Honda, Lego and Claritin. The site reached 1.34 millioni people in March, according to online measurement firm com Score. Read More >>

Video of Tom Giovanetti Speaking on the U.S. Relinquishing Control of Internet Root Zone Functions

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | April 13, 2014

ICAC IANA CSPAN 1I was honored to speak at a panel discussion on Friday sponsored by the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee on whether transferring control of the Internet root zone functions from the U.S. Dept. of Commerce to some yet-to-be-determined multistakeholder organization is a good thing.

The briefing was televised on CSPAN, and the archive video can be seen here. Read More >>

Sen. Mike Lee Agrees with IPI on Ending the Ex-Im Bank

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | April 7, 2014

Great piece in National Review today by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) on eliminating the Export-Import Bank.

I couldn't have said it any better, Senator Lee, though I did try.

Several times. Read More >>

Bigger Can Be Better; or Why the Comcast Merger is Probably Good for Time Warner Cable Customers

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | March 24, 2014

One or two guys oops, people can write a great app, or a great algorithm, and that's a great thing. Our economy is benefitting and consumers are reaping the benefits of such innovation and creativity that comes as the fruit of the minds and labor of a few.

But some things are really, really expensive and capital intensive to do, like building out and maintaining a 21st Century broadband and rich content network that is constantly innovating new products and services for its customers.

That's one of the reasons why I've never been big on municipal broadband networks, and it's a big reason why, as Marguerite Reardon wrote in CNET, the Comcast merger could be good for TimeWarner Cable customers. In fact, it almost certainly will be. Read More >>

Speaking at Cato on IP in the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | March 21, 2014

Tom at Cato on IP in the TPPI had the privilege of speaking a couple of weeks ago at a Cato Institute briefing on whether it is wise or appropriate to include intellectual property protection in trade agreements, specifically in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the major trade agreement that is currently in a pretty vital stage of negotiation. The name of the event was "Intellectual Property in the Trans-Pacific Partnership: National Interest or Corporate Handout?" It was kind of Bill Watson at Cato to invite me to participate, and you can see the video of the event on Cato's website here. You can also see my Powerpoint slide deck here.

My role at the event was to speak from the perspective that intellectual property protections should be part of such trade agreements. I was in the definite minority, as both the other two panelists and the moderator are all skeptical of IP protection in general, and certainly don't think we should be using trade agreements as leverage to ask our trading partners to raise their IP protection standards. But I was happy to play that role. Read More >>

Francis Gurry Wins Reelection at WIPO

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | March 6, 2014

A few hours ago Francis Gurry won re-election (technically, re-nomination) as Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva. This is a good thing.

My sources tell me Gurry received 46 votes on the first ballot, 4 votes over an outright majority. At this, the Estonian (7 votes) and Panamanian (10 votes) nominees withdrew.

What would normally then have happened is a second ballot, but after seeing Gurry’s large initial vote, some of the African Group went to the nominee from Nigeria, who had received 20 votes, and told him they were going to switch to Gurry, undoubtedly because they wanted to go with the winner. At this, the Nigerian nominee withdrew, so Gurry was nominated by consensus. Read More >>

One More Reason

Posted by Bartlett D. Cleland | Comments | March 6, 2014

Yesterday we wrote that the 6 percent who answered in a survey that they thought the U.S. has the best tax system in the world were wrong. Already today we have one more reason the 6 percent are wrong: The Tax Foundation released an analysis showing that the U.S. has the 9th highest top marginal tax rate on personal dividends compared to other countries in the OECD. So, in the U.S., you are highly taxed if you own a business, if you invest, if you save or if you earn income. And some people wonder why so many struggle to make ends meet? Figuring it out is not exactly an exercise in the advanced engineering of spacecraft. Read More >>

"You Didn't Build That" Comes to Copyright

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | February 15, 2014

When President Obama performed his infamous “You didn’t build that” soliloquy during the 2012 campaign, it obviously hit a nerve. Not because there was anything particularly outrageous with the point he was trying to make, but rather because the phrase was seen to be a revealing slip, and seemed to confirm what many had long suspected about Obama—that he had a dismissive attitude toward the traditional American value of the rugged individual who, though hard work and determination, built a successful business. Your success is not due primarily to your hard work and sacrifices, you see—it’s mostly due to everyone else. Really, we all out here sitting on our behinds are responsible for your success, and we don’t recall seeing any dividend checks lately from you. So it’s time to pay up.

Parents don’t raise children, you see—schools and institutions do. Entrepreneurs don’t build businesses—taxpayers and government bureaucrats do. It takes a village, remember?

It’s just a slight step from there to conclude that, since you don’t really get the credit for your success—since we all really had more to do with it than you did—it really ought be us, not you, who gets to say how your capital gets used. After all, you didn’t build that. Next thing you know, we’re wresting control of the means of production from the capitalists, because after all, they didn’t build that—the collective we did.

This is crap. The creator and builder has always been an American hero to all but that small, disgruntled minority that believe you must take from the creator to redistribute to others. In capitalism, as in any moral system, the builder and inventor and creator is a hero, and is deserving of his or her success. Because their success is simply the fruit of their labor, and everyone is entitled to the fruit of their labor as their possession. It doesn’t get much more basic than that.

But the mob still lurks out there, demanding that they are a better judge of how the fruit of your labor should be deployed than you are. I’ve long argued that the primary locus of this essentially nihilistic and even Marxist thinking is today being focused on intellectual property, and I’m sad to say that the latest iteration showed up in, of all places, the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal. Specifically, in “Sorry, Writers, but I’m Siding With Google’s Robots,” a February 7th op/ed by James Panero, a thirty-something art snob who, ironically, doesn’t seem to have a very high view of art—or at least of art that is protected by copyright. Read More >>

US Files WTO Complaint Against India's Domestic Content Requirements for Solar Panels

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | February 10, 2014

Today, the U.S. filed an official complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against India for its domestic content requirements for solar panels.

Domestic content requirements are prohibited in most cases under WTO agreements.

Of course, the details of this dispute relevant to the solar panel industry are important. But this dispute takes place in a much wider trade dispute context in which India has been purposely ignoring and violating the rights of intellectual property rights holders as part of their domestic industrial policy. Particularly in the area of prescription drug patents.

As Sally Pipes writes in Forbes:

Over the last two years, the Indian government has attacked pharmaceutical patents with increasing aggression. In March 2012, it issued its first “compulsory license” for a kidney-cancer drug made by Bayer AG. A compulsory license allows firms to make generic copies of drugs supposedly still protected by patents in exchange for a licensing fee set by the government. The patent holder has no say in the matter.

Later that year, the Indian government revoked Pfizer’s patent on Sutent, which treats gastrointestinal tumors and advanced kidney cancer. No other country has taken such an action.

And in early 2013, India’s Supreme Court denied patent protection for Glivec, which is used to treat leukemia, despite the fact that it continues to be protected by patents in almost every other country.

To date, India has issued compulsory licenses or revoked patents for eight advanced pharmaceuticals. Read More >>

 

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