Public Knowledge President Questions FCC Copyright Authority
Public Knowledge President Questions FCC Copyright Authority
Public Knowledge President Questions FCC Copyright Authority

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    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) does not have the authority
    to order filtering of Internet traffic for copyright violations or to
    permit Internet users to have their service taken away after allegations
    of copyright infringement,
    Public Knowledge President Gigi B. Sohn said Thursday

    Testifying at an FCC workshop on the “National Broadband Plan:
    Workshop on the Role of Content in the Broadband Ecosystem,” Sohn
    said: “The last time the FCC mandated a copy protection technology
    without Congressional authorization, the D.C. Circuit slapped it down.
    That case involved the infamous broadcast flag. Any copy protection
    mandate the FCC could devise here would suffer the same fate.”
    Public Knowledge was the lead party in bringing that case against the

    Sohn also told the workshop that such filtering is now network
    management, testifying that “filtering is content management, not
    network management, and to the extent that they block lawful content,
    they violate the FCC’s principles.

    In addition, Sohn told the workshop that: (1) There is not data to show a
    problem with copyright infringement online. “The industry’s data on
    the extent of illegal activity and the actual harm to the industry is
    suspect at best.” She added, “The FCC has proclaimed itself
    to be a data-driven agency, but copyright policy in the US tends to be
    more faith-based than data driven.” (2) Content filtering could
    have unintended consequences in harming the network and spurring use of
    encryption. (3) There are other ways to curb online infringement, such as
    warning notices and take-down notices.

    Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at or 405-249-9435.