With Easter recess just days away, legislators are rushing to introduce bills on a variety of issues PK cares about. As expected, Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va) introduced a bill that seeks to give fashion design copyright protection for three years. I have already written about why such protection is both unnecessary and counterproductive.
Next on the list are two draft bills – one which I can show you, and one which I cannot. One is terrific, the other terrible. The first draft bill is the Internet Neutrality Act, co-sponsored by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and [Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND] which codifies net neutrality in a way we really like – with an enforceable prohibition against blocking, interference, discrimination against, impairment or degradation of any Internet content or services. The bill specifically requires network providers to “provide on a reasonable and non-discriminatory basis the ability to offer, provide or post content, applications or services…in a manner that is at least equal to the speed and quality of service that the broadband network provider offers to affiliated content, etc.” Ah, the non-discrimination word. Music to our ears. This bill is very similar to the bill introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)
a few weeks ago, but this bill is backed by a bipartisan team that is on the Commerce committee, which is very important.
The second bill, spearheaded by Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) is yet another attempt at tech mandates, specifically the digital broadcast and satellite radio flag. Supposedly, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) are possible co-sponsors. I can't show it to you yet, but here are some of the lowlights:
â€¢ It is aimed at in-home and portable uses of content that the consumer has already paid to receive – it does not even purport to have anything with so-called “indiscriminate distribution” over the Internet
â€¢ It would prohibit customary consumer recording based on specific songs, artists, genres, “or other user preferences.”
â€¢ It would wipe out the noncommercial, “fair use” recording that Americans have engaged in for decades.
The real kicker is that the bill would permit performing and mechanical rights societies to circumvent technological protection measures used by satellite radio companies to ensure that their signals are not captured by non-subscribers. What makes this amazing is that this provision is being pushed by many of the same groups who argue that consumers should never be allowed to bypass technological locks, even for lawful reasons.
If there is anything good to be said about the Feinstein bill, it is that it brings the Judiciary Committee into the tech mandate mix, which makes for more delay and confusion.