The Public Knowledge blog is a great source for up-to-date information on key communications and copyright issues. But if you haven't been reading it forever, well, it can be a little hard to jump in. Here, then, is a primer on some of the issues we've been working on, what's new, and why you should care.
WIPO: Sherwin is attending the WIPO Broadcast Treaty in Geneva, Switzerland. You can read his reports here, here, here and here. The Convention has been called to give broadcasters new protections against piracy. The biggest contention is whether these new protections will take the form of signal-theft or intellectual property rights. Content providers, such as the producers of Seinfeld, already have intellectual property rights over their content. Broadcasters, such as those represented by the NAB , are already have civil and criminal recourse in local jurisdictions against those who pirate their signal. PK believes granting new intellectual property rights to broadcasters would add a new and unnecessary layer to the already messy world of intellectual property rights. This new layer of rights will deter innovation in devices (like Slingbox) that send video around the network, make re-broadcasting immeasurably more difficult, may make it more difficult for competitors to license content, and generally make it harder for the everyday consumer to access favorite TV shows. For those new to the topic, PK has a summary of the issues involved here. Sherwin tells us that the Committee is far from reaching an agreement – read his latest blogpost here and PK's press release here.
Upcoming 700 MHz Broadband Auction: FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein announced his support for an open access requirement for the winner of the 700 MHz auction. As readers of this blog know, this valuable band of spectrum is being auctioned off as television broadcasters make the move from analog to digital transmission. The vacancy affords the last, best chance for new carriers to provide emerging wireless broadband technologies. If – as Public Knowledge hopes – this spectrum is sold with an open access requirement, the winner of this auction will have to make half of the spectrum available to retail broadband service providers on a wholesale basis, allowing for new businesses to compete with incumbent carriers. For example, if AT&T wins the spectrum auction, it will be required to lease access to its spectrum to companies like Virgin Mobile. This kind of competition leads to lower prices, new services, and new and innovative devices. Read more about this here. This week, PK has continued its advocacy for rules that will promote competition both during the auction and after the spectrum is awarded.
Interns: This week, the interns have worked on a variety of things, ranging from researching the pending XM/Sirius merger to composing a memo on non-commercial levies to drafting a response to NBC's call for stronger safeguards against internet piracy. Probably the most exciting event was Brendan's return from the iCommons Summit in Croatia. iCommons is the international center of the Creative Commons movement. Brendan learned about improving textbook affordability, generating new business models for the music industry, and using emerging technologies for political organizing. Read about his experience here. Oh! And four interns created a video about their experiences at the Senate Commerce Committee Hearing on the upcoming 700 MHz auction.