TLPC Releases White Paper on Intellectual Property Issues at the FCC

In this white paper, TLPC student attorneys Colter Donahue and J. Parker Ragland outline steps that the FCC can take to avoid having rulemakings and other policymaking initiatives delayed or negatively affected by intellectual property issues. In recent years, the Commission has faced several situations, including in the context of 9-1-1 services, telecommunications relay services, and set-top boxes, where intellectual property issues have arisen and affected proceedings. The white paper urges the Commission to develop adequate expertise in intellectual property law and to proactively anticipate and address IP issues to avoid these situations in the future.

Last Week in Tech Policy Vol. 26: Fair Play, Fair Pay?

(by Molly Hogan, Colorado Law 3L)

Many of our discussions about the different aspects of technology law involve evolving technologies and how antiquated laws can be applied to situations that their drafters could not have fathomed. This week, I wanted to bring it back to discuss a debate surrounding a technology that is over 100 years old: the radio.

Despite the coming and going of records, 8-tracks, cassettes, CDs, and now MP3s and beyond, music fans have long been able to rely on the AM/FM radio to hear new music and old classics. Unbeknownst to most listeners is the fact that those artists whose songs play on the radio are not receiving copyright royalties for the airplay.

Continue reading “Last Week in Tech Policy Vol. 26: Fair Play, Fair Pay?”

TLPC Testifies at Copyright Office DMCA Section 1201 Hearings

Last week, the TLPC testified at several hearings (PDF) in favor of our proposed exemptions to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. We’ve linked below to various pictures and coverage of the hearing. Congratulations to the many TLPC students who took part!

TLPC Files Security Research DMCA Exemption Reply Comments

(by Chelsea E.  Brooks,  Student Attorney, Joseph N. de Raismes, Student Attorney, Andy J. Sayler, Student Technologist)

Today, we filed a Reply Comment in response to public comments on our  Long Comment for Class 25 (Security Research) on behalf of our client Professor Matthew Green.  The proceeding (and objectors’ comments) can be found at the Copyright Office’s DMCA Section 1201 Tri-annual Exemption Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

As we discussed in our previous blog post on the subject, this project seeks an exemption to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s anti-circumvention provisions for good-faith security research.  Our Reply Comment responds to a variety of issued raised in the second round of the proceeding by public commenters including manufacturers and trade groups in automobile, medical device, software, and related industries. In our Reply Comment, we focus on how objectors comments are textbook examples of the adverse effects of Section 1201 chilling good-faith security research, and push back against the suggestion that an exemption should include a mandatory disclosure standard.

Next up in the proceeding is a hearing on May 26, 2015 In Washington, DC where student technologist Andy Sayler will be a witness along with the clinic director, Blake Reid, and our client, Professor Matthew Green.

TLPC Briefs Copyright Office with Reply Comments on E-book Accessibility DMCA Exemption

Today, the TLPC, the American Foundation for the Blind, the American Council of the Blind, the Library Copyright Alliance, and the American Association of People with Disabilities filed reply comments at the U.S. Copyright Office requesting a renewal of the exemption to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act aimed at  making e-books more accessible to people who are blind, visually impaired, or print disabled and authorized entities. If renewed, the exemption would increase access to literary works and educational resources for people who are blind, visually impaired, or print disabled.

Take a look at the long-form comment attached here, and stay tuned for the Copyright Office’s decision later this year.

E-book Accessibility Reply Comments

Last Week in Tech Law and Policy, Vol. 14: Piracy and File Leakage in the Digital Age

(by Conor Stewartson, TLPC Student Attorney)

As spring approaches, millions of fans of Game of Thrones, HBO’s most successful television program, become anxious with anticipation for yet another season of the television adaptation of the critically acclaimed book series.  Season 5 of GoT was scheduled for simultaneous release on April 12th in 170 countries across the globe in order to decrease the historically high piracy rates that the show experiences.

The efforts by HBO were made at least partially moot on Saturday when the first four episodes of the season were leaked online.  Over 1.7 million copies of these episodes were downloaded in less than 24 hours.  The leaked episodes appear to have come from review copies sent to the press, which contained a blurred watermark and were only available in standard definition.

The timing could not have been worse for HBO, which recently rolled out its new “HBO Now” service that allows for viewers to pay a monthly rate ($14.99) in return for standalone HBO service that does not require a cable subscription.  In the past, obtaining an HBO subscription may have been impossible for viewers that lacked standard cable service—a difficulty that may have been a driving force behind the proliferation of online piracy of GoT.

[Editor’s note: we’ll be (mostly) offline over the summer break. See you in the fall!]

Last Week in Tech Law and Policy, Vol. 13: Digital Technologies and Innovation in the Distribution of Music

Last week, rapper and business mogul Jay Z reintroduced Tidal in a press conference highlighting the platform as an artist-owned, subscription-based music service. The service boasts a movement to “change the status quo” and “reestablish the value of music.” Tidal values music at $19.99 per month for high fidelity (lossless/CD-Quality) streaming, or $9.99 per month—comparable to other music streaming services like Spotify.

The re-emergence of Tidal as a music streaming service owned by artists themselves in order to procure greater profits for their music begs the question: how are artists doing now?

This infographic from data journalist and information designer David McCandless shows how many plays from each music service an artist needs to earn a monthly minimum wage of $1,260.

As we previously discussed, digital technologies have changed the way consumers receive all entertainment content. Some argue that the rise of music piracy and peer-to-peer sharing in the digital age have impacted profits, but the migration to streaming services may also have a countervailing impact on piracy.

Spotify claims that their free model shifts consumers away from piracy to a platform they can simply listen to music for free, and then drives them to the paid subscription ($120 per year), doubling the amount these average consumers spend on music (supposedly, $55 per year), and generating more royalties for the artists. Some artists, notably Taylor Swift, have qualms with the free tier service Spotify provides.

Last Week in Tech Law and Policy, Vol. 10: Digital Technologies and Innovation in the Distribution of Content

(by Sam Moodie, Student Attorney)

This past Thursday, Colorado Law’s Silicon Flatirons Center hosted a conference focusing on the current state of innovation in the creation and distribution of content.  The conference hosted well-known artists in music, film, television, and photography as well as major players in content distribution to discuss in part, how digital technologies are either enhancing or challenging traditional structures of creation and distribution.

Music

Music has long been the stage to exemplify how digital technologies can frustrate and disrupt an entire content industry.  Some have argued that the rise of music piracy, peer-to-peer sharing, and pay-per-track have drastically reduced profits for music executives, song writers, and performing artists alike.  The new wave in music distribution is streaming—a technology made possible through licensing and advertising revenues.  However, artists claim that this model drastically under-compensates them  for their work, to the point where an artists song earning a million streams may not even earn the profit of $100.  In response, some popular artists like Taylor Swift has removed her work from Spotify, one of the most successful music streaming sites.

Many now question whether streaming has fundamentally shaken the music industry at its core, or if the traditional business structure simply needs to adapt slightly in order to remain relevant. Some take the perspective that users need to be retrained on the value of content, and how to interact with it.

Television

Digital technology in the television industry has quickly stepped in to answer users’ demands to control their content.  The most notable means through which this has happened are subscription networks like Netflix and Amazon Prime.  This distribution model arguably assists in the democratization of television because producers can work directly with distribution companies instead of working within the traditional broadcast television structure.

Similarly, the interfaces used by these entities provide a wealth of content and allow users to interact and search for content on their own terms.  The subscription model allows for a wider array of content, often much edgier than can be found on mainstream television, and at a vastly lower price compared to cabe subscriptions.

This leads to the question of whether cable and broadcast are still relevant, and if so, if they can remain relevant in the future.  Some consider the current price of cable subscriptions to be unsustainable given the success and popularity on online streaming television.

Some see traditional and digital entities as being able to work together.  As noted at the conference,  cable providers and producers see themselves as the leaders in providing up-to-date and new content.  Coupling with entities like Netflix that provide past seasons of television shows all at once, allowing viewers to binge watch and catch up on past content, may be a perfect marriage for complete access to content.  However, with Netflix now creating its own series, how long will cable have a relevant role in this relationship?

Regardless, it is increasingly clear that these technologies are giving a considerable amount of leverage to users. The point where the balance has shifted, and industry executives are losing more and more control over their content.