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Each week we’ve focused on one of Public Knowledge’s five fundamentals for the PSTN transition to an all-IP (Internet Protocol) phone network. We believe that the principles of service to all Americans, interconnection and competition between carriers, consumer protection, network reliability, and public safety are needed to guide the technological upgrade while keeping the necessities we’ve all come to expect from the phone network.
Today, let’s talk about one of the most basic principles of the phone upgrade: the network still has to function reliably.
Something we commonly hear when the United States Trade Representative or others are negotiating "trade" agreements is that, to the extent that these agreements mention other areas of law or policy--such as copyright law--they are "consistent" with it. "Who could object," we are asked, "to simply restating what the law already is?"
The first problem with this is that such agreements don't just restate the law--they can freeze it in place. It is politically more difficult for Congress to pass a law if there's an argument (even a wrong one) that doing so would take us out of "compliance" with a trade agreement. If trade negotiators want to freeze US law in place they should explain that is what they are doing and not frame the issue as a technical one without real consequences.
The Supreme Court's decision in Kirtsaeng today is a big win for the public, for ownership rights, and free trade. In a compellingly-argued 6-3 decision, the Court held that copyright owners do not have a perpetual right to control the resale of goods, even when they are manufactured overseas.
The issue of cell phone unlocking has been hot for the past month. The White House response to the over 100,000 person petition to allow for the unlocking of cell phones has led to a flurry of legislative proposals in Congress and broad interest in a quick solution to the issue.
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