Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
Feb. 21, 2001, 8:00 AM ET, Alert No. 128.
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Certiorari
2/20. The Supreme Court denied certiorari in Time Warner Entertainment v. FCC, a case regarding the constitutionality of the cable ownership caps of the 1992 Cable Act. See, Order List [PDF] at page 29. TWE sought review of a May 19, 2000 opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals (DCCir) upholding the constitutionality of two provisions of the 1992 Cable Act. The subscriber limits provision directs the FCC to limit the number of subscribers a cable operator may reach. The channel occupancy provision directs the FCC to limit the number of channels on a cable system that may be devoted to video programming in which the operator has a financial interest. TWE unsuccessfully argued that these limits violate the First Amendment. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case, without writing an opinion. AT&T now holds more than the 30% maximum share of subscribers, and pursuant to an FCC order, must divest its interest in TWE. AT&T has also unsuccessfully lobbied the Congress to amend the statute.
2/20. The Supreme Court also denied certiorari in many other cases, including:
  IBM v. U.S.
  Public Service Comm. of Utah v. Qwest.
  CSU v. Xerox.
  McManus v. MCI.
See, Order List [PDF].
2/20. The Supreme Court granted certiorari in J.E.M. AG Supply v. Pioneer Hi-Bred International, a patent infringement case involving the patentability of corn seeds. The U.S. District Court (NDIowa), and the U.S. Court of Appeals (FedCir), both held that seeds are patentable. See, Jan. 19, 2000, opinion of the Court of Appeals. See, Order List [PDF].
Privacy
2/9. The Department of Justice submitted a comment to the Administrative Office of the United States Courts in its proceeding regarding privacy and security implications of public access to electronic case files. The lengthy comment recommends for civil cases maintaining the presumption that all filed documents that are not sealed are available both at the courthouse and electronically. It recommends against electronic access to criminal files. It also addresses bankruptcy files. It recommends requiring less information in bankruptcy petitions and schedules, restricting use of social security and credit card numbers to the last four digits, and segregating certain sensitive information from the public file. See also, cover letter from Kevin Jones.
New Documents
SCUS: Order List re grants and denials of certiorari, 2/20 (PDF, SCUS).
Parsons: speech re Napster and copyright law, 2/20 (HTML, TLJ).
DOJ: comment re privacy and security implications of public access to electronic case files, 2/9 (HTML, DOJ).
Quote of the Day
"We are at war with those intent on stealing the work product of our artists for the purpose of building their own commercial enterprises."

Richard Parsons, COO of AOL Time Warner in a speech about Napster, Feb. 20.
Napster
2/20. Napster and Bertelsmann officials held a press conference in San Francisco to announce an offer to the recording industry to license copyrighted music recordings. Napster also released a statement: "Napster's proposal will provide $1 billion to the major labels, songwriters and independent labels and artists over 5 years. Major labels will receive $150 million per year for a non-exclusive license, divided according to files transferred. For example if the transfers were evenly divided among five major labels, each would receive $30 million. $50 million per year will be set aside for independent labels and artists to be paid out based on the volume of transfers." Napster also stated that "This business model has not changed substantially for the last six months and has been presented to all the major labels." On Feb. 12 the U.S. Court of Appeals (9thCir) issued its opinion [PDF] in Napster v. A&M Records, largely upholding Judge Patel's findings regarding copyright infringement by Napster. The Napster Bertelsmann press conference was largely a public relations event.
2/20. Hillary Rosen, President of the RIAA, released a statement directed at Napster. "Stop the infringements, stop the delay tactics in court." She also accused Napster of "trying to engage in business negotiations through the media."
2/20. AOL Time Warner Chief Operating Officer Richard Parsons gave a speech in Beverly Hills, California, on the case A&M Records v. Napster. He stated that "AOL Time Warner is the largest copyright owner in the world. ... From this perspective, we divide the world into two kinds of people: those who respect the rights of creators and owners of intellectual property to determine how and when their property is used, and those who do not. Napster and its ilk are in the latter category. Strip away all the rhetoric about free choice and third-party neutrality and what Napster has been found guilty of is old-fashioned copyright infringement or, in laymen's terms, ripping off what doesn't belong to it. As an industry, we must continue to make it clear that there are no compromises or shortcuts that will lead us to settle for anything less than the legal protections that were ringingly reaffirmed by the 9th Circuit Court just last week."
H1B Rules
2/20. The Employment and Training Administration of the Labor Department extended the period for filing comments regarding its Interim Final Rule (IFR) implementing the 1998 H1B visa bill. The American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998 (ACWIA) was passed by the Congress in late 1998 to temporarily increase the annual cap on visas for high tech workers, known as H1B visas. This IFR was published on Dec. 20, 2000. It is a massive document that is online in three sections. See, Federal Register, Dec. 20, 2000, Vol. 65, No. 245, at pages 80109-80158, 80159-80208, and 80209-80254. The new deadline is April 23, 2001. See, notice in Federal Register. Some Members of Congress have long since criticized the Dept. of Labor for its repeated delays in issuing these regulations, which implement the American worker protection provisions of the ACWIA.
More News
2/20. Lernout & Hauspie announced that the U.S. Bankruptcy Court (DDel) granted final approval of a 13-month $60 million Debtor in Possession financing facility to be provided to L&H and its affiliates. See, LH release.
2/20. The ITAA announced that it has completed a survey of federal Chief Information Officers and information resource managers titled "The New Federal Agenda: Point, Click, Change!". The ITAA published in its web site a press release, but not the survey.
Today
9:30 AM. The U.S. Court of Appeals (DC Cir) will hear oral argument in MCI WorldCom v. FCC, Appeal No. 00-1002. Judges Williams, Sentelle and Rogers will preside. This is a Petition for Review of an FCC's Advanced Services Order on Remand (MS Word) (FCC 99-413) concerning application of Section 251 to DSL service. The FCC ruled that DSL service provided by US West, an ILEC, is "exchange access" or "telephone exchange service". Every major telecom company intervened, including US West, SBC, Bell Atlantic (now Verizon), GTE, AT&T, Focal, and the Telecommunications Retailers Assoc. See, TLJ Case Summary.
12:00 NOON. The Federal Communications Bar Association will host a luncheon. The speaker will be Lowell "Bud" Paxson, Chairman of Paxson Communications Corporation. RSVP to Arlice, arlice@fcba.org. Location: Capital Hilton, 16th & K Streets, NW, Washington DC.
12:00 NOON. FTC Commissioner Thomas Leary will speak at the Hogan & Hartson program titled "A Dialogue on Antitrust Policy in a New Administration." Location: University Club, 1135 16th Street, NW, Washington DC.
12:00 NOON. The Progress and Freedom Foundation will host a press conference at the National Press Club titled "Is Microsoft Still a Monopoly?" For more information call Jane Creel at 202-289-8928. Location: NPC, First Amendment Lounge, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Washington DC, 20045.
12:15 PM. The Federal Communications Bar Association's Ad Hoc Committee on Telecom Competition will host a Brown Bag Luncheon. The topic will be "The Instant Messaging Wars: Implications for Competition." The scheduled speakers are Marilyn Cade, Director, Internet & E-Commerce Policy & Advocacy, AT&T; Blair Levin, Principal Telecom Analyst, Legg Mason; and Steven Teplitz. RSVP to Joanne Little. Location: Preston Gates, 1735 New York Ave, NW, Suite 500, Washington DC.
12:30 PM. FTC Chairman Robert Pitofsky will speak at an Exchequer Club luncheon meeting. Location: Capital Hilton Hotel, 16th & K Streets, NW, Washington DC.
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