Last Week in Tech Policy #67: One Policy, Universal Service?

(by Galen Pospisil, Colorado Law 2L)

For most of the 20th Century, a single company provided telecommunications services in the United States. Under the slogan “one policy, one system, universal service,” AT&T provided local and long distance telephone service at uniform prices to almost every home and business in America.

Today, hundreds of companies provide telecommunications services under individual pricing policies. And yet, the goal of universal service remains.  Policymakers face the challenge of ensuring that all Americans have access to telecommunications services without the intricate system of regulated rates that the Bell System relied upon.

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TLPC Files Three DMCA Reply Comments for Disability Services, Multimedia E-Books, and Security Research

Today the TLPC filed three reply comments to the U.S. Copyright Office as part of the seventh triennial Section 1201 proceeding. Under Section 1201 of the DMCA, parties may petition the Copyright Office every three years to create or modify exemptions when the DMCA adversely affects noninfringing activities. Opponents filed public comments in February responding to the initial long form comments filed in December.

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Last Week in Tech Policy #66: The Fate of Vertical Mergers

Mergers are often  met with skepticism, as intuitively there are less players in the game after the transaction is complete.  Due to the large infrastructure costs and high value of network effects, mergers play a significant role in the telecommunications industry. Pooling resources together can create efficiencies, but there is a fear of harmful effects on consumers- whether by an increase in price or a decline in product quality.

Mergers can be broken up into two categories, vertical and horizontal. A vertical merger occurs between two companies that operate at separate steps of production, typically where transactions costs have driven integration. In horizontal mergers, parties operate in the same market and the combination will eliminate a competitor.

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Fair Use and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

(by Angel Antkers & Susan Miller, Colorado Law 2Ls—cross-posted from the Authors Alliance blog)

The fair use doctrine allows the unlicensed, unpermissioned use of a copyrighted work in certain situations. It functions, in part, to safeguard First Amendment interests in freedom of speech. But as the world moves toward more digital authorship and online content, fair use is encountering various obstacles.

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Last Week in Tech Policy #65: Fake News, Real Concerns

(by John Schoppert, Colorado Law 3L)

On Friday, February 16th, Special Counsel Robert Mueller announced the indictment of 13 Russian nationals on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States. The announcement serves as the latest development in Mueller’s investigation into potential collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election. More concretely, it provides further evidence that Russian operatives played a critical role in disrupting the 2016 election atop near-unanimous consensus among American intelligence agencies.

The indictments track the work of a so-called “troll factory” located in St. Petersburg, which designed and deployed divisive content over social media platforms to encourage collaboration within extreme groups online. More specifically, Russian operatives stole the identities of American citizens, posed as political activists, created posts affiliated with extreme ideologies and paid individuals to locally organize protests and rallies. While many debate over whether the Russians pushed for any one candidate over the other—as opposed to creating chaos more generally—based on internal documents, it appears that disruptive efforts were aimed at supporting the campaigns of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, and undermining that of Hillary Clinton.

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Last Week in Tech Policy #64: A Glimpse Into Your Future and Your Past: The Implications of At Home Genetic Testing

(by Casey Warsh, Colorado Law 2L)

Human beings are unique compared to all other species. We learn, communicate, and navigate the earth in ways that are distinct from most other living things. What distinguishes human beings from other species is our DNA, a complex set of instructions that dictates the way our cells, tissue, muscle, and bone come together to create our human form. Despite its complex make up, the mystery behind the double helix is almost a notion of the past.

DNA testing is now accessible to the masses through providers like Helix, 23andMe, and AncestryDNA. Of course, DNA testing has its place when performed by doctors for medical purposes, but should we be engaging in genetic testing from the comfort of our own living rooms? Consumers have responded with a resounding yes. 1.5 million people on Black Friday alone shipped off DNA samples to AncestryDNA for testing.

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Last Week in Tech Policy #63: War Games: Nuclear Deterrence Against Cyberattacks

(by Alex Kimata, Colorado Law 3L)

Could a massive cyber attack start a nuclear war?  Early in February, after weeks of rumors, the Department of Defense released the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review and alluded to the idea that for the first time cyberattacks could be met with nuclear deterrence.

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Last Week in Tech Policy #62: Fixed vs Mobile Broadband

(by Stefan Tschimben, CU ITP Ph.D Candidate)

Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires the Federal Communications Commission to determine “whether advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion.” Many people were surprised and worried when the FCC suggested in an August 2017 Notice of Inquiry equating mobile broadband alongside fixed broadband in its Broadband Deployment Report. The FCC concluded:

Americans today regularly use both fixed and mobile advanced telecommunications capability to originate and receive high-quality voice, data, graphics, and video telecommunications.

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Last Week in Tech Policy #61: Fort Collins Colorado and the Municipal Broadband Experiment

(by Brett Hildebrand, Colorado Law 3L)

One of the most high-profile recent developments in municipal broadband is happening in Fort Collins, CO, a college town just an hour north of Boulder. The city has voted to become its own internet service provider, overcoming a large campaign by one incumbent ISP. The proposal started as ballot initiative 2B, which passed in November 2017, and then was approved unanimously by the city council in January 2018. The city is currently accepting bids to build out the network and infrastructure necessary to get the service up and running. The approach is outlined in the city’s recently approved the Broadband Strategic Plan.

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Last Week in Tech Policy: #60 Skating Around Copyright

(By Sophia Galleher, Colorado Law 2L)

First, think figure skating. Then, watch this—at minute 2:45 Jimmy Ma brings it, unzipping his jacket and giving a tongue wag à la Michael Jordan as his music breaks into a hip hop-electronic dance mix of “Turn Down For What” by DJ Snake and Lil Jon. Surprised? Welcome to figure skating in 2018, where Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” and Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” are remnants of the past.

Ma’s routine epitomizes the impact of a 2014 rule change where the International Skating Union, in an attempt to inject life into a sport with waning popularity, agreed to allow skaters to use music backed by vocals in their routines. And the move has proven to be a success: within hours of his performance, Ma, an otherwise unremarkable figure skater—an 11th place finish at the U.S. National Championships in an Olympic year is hardly newsworthy—became an internet sensation, lighting up the Twitter feeds of both skaters and non-skaters alike. Ma’s routine is not alone. In 2017 a French pair team’s bone-chilling performance set to Disturbed’s rendition of “The Sound of Silence” went viral, generating over 30 million views.

But while the figure skating world is abuzz with excitement over the sport’s future, the 2014 rule change has simultaneously ushered in a host of copyright questions.

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