Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
April 3, 2001, 8:00 AM ET, Alert No. 157.
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4/2. The Senate approved S 27, Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) bill pertaining to campaign finance, by a vote of 59 to 41. The Senate will now move on to President Bush's FY 2002 budget proposal.
ICANN & VeriSign
4/2. The ICANN Board of Directors approved proposed revisions to VeriSign's contract to operate the .com, .net, and .org registries. Under the revisions, the .com agreement would expire on November 10, 2007, and VeriSign would have a right at that time to renew for a four year term if it satisfies the criteria set forth in the agreement. Also, the .org agreement would expire on December 31, 2002, and VeriSign would not be eligible to seek to renew it. Finally, the .net agreement would expire on January 1, 2006, and it would then be subject to a competitive renewal process. See, ICANN release. The proposed revisions were adopted by the ICANN Board of Directors by a vote of 12 to 3. They are still subject to ratification by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
3/28. Three senior Democrats on the House Commerce Committee wrote a letter to FTC Chairman Robert Pitofsky requesting that the FTC investigate the privacy practices of TiVo, a maker of personal video recorders and a provider of personal television programming services. The letter questions whether TiVo violates its own privacy policy by collecting information about its customers' program viewing selections, and whether this violates the prohibition in  5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act against "unfair or deceptive practices." The letter was written by Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), Ranking Member of the full committee, Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection, and Rep. Ed  Markey (D-MA), Ranking Member Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet.
Annual 1377 Review
4/2. The USTR said that it released the results of its annual Section 1377 review of foreign compliance with telecom trade agreements. "Telecommunications trade agreements, particularly in the World Trade Organization, have been a driving force in opening up world markets to high-technology trade and investment," said USTR Robert Zoellick in a release. The report addresses anti-competitive practices of state owned, or formerly stated owned, telecom monopolies or dominant carriers in eleven nations. The report addresses four areas of concern regarding Germany's Deutsche Telekom (DT), which is still 58% state owned: unbundled loop rates, excessive colocation conditions and provisioning delays, absence of a reference interconnection offer, and excessive licensing fees. The report states that France Telecom, which remains 54% state owned, has failed to provide essential technical information for interconnection and non discriminatory colocation, discriminates against competitors in providing access necessary for the competitive provision of DSL services, and receives preferential rights of ways over new entrants. The report also states that over regulation of new entrants and toleration of anticompetitive behavior by the 46% state owned NTT group of companies in Japan have restricted opportunities for new entrants. The report also identifies shortcoming in the United Kingdom, including the failure of British Telecom, the dominant incumbent, to offer non discriminatory access to facilities necessary for local loop unbundling, and the failure of BT to offer line sharing. The report also addresses Spain, Italy, Mexico, Canada, Columbia, South Africa, and Taiwan. See also, USTR fact sheet and State Dept. release.
New Documents
EPIC: report re digital divide, 4/2 (HTML, EPIC).
Dingell: letter to FTC re privacy practices of TiVo, 3/28 (HTML, Dingell).
WorldCom: comment to FCC re Verizon's request to delay MDS and ITFS applications, 4/2 (PDF, FCC).
SupCtCal: opinion in Preston v. Board of Equalization re state sales taxes and transfers of copyrights, 4/2 (PDF, SupCtCal).
Napster News
4/2. Napster held a "teach in" on music file copying/sharing at the Catholic University law school in Washington DC. See, Napster notice. Meanwhile, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) launched a website called No Free Lunchster to provide its arguments, and supporting statements by artists. On Tuesday, April 3, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on online entertainment and copyright law.
More IP News
4/2. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) submitted a request [PDF] to intervene, or to file an amicus curiae brief, with the Copyright Board of Canadian in its JumpTV proceeding. The NAB stated that it wants to argue "that internet retransmissions of United States broadcast signals by 2000051 Ontario, Inc. ... or any other Canadian entity pursuant to Section 31 of the Canadian Copyright Act could result in devastating consequences for the United States system of free over-the-air broadcasting and could violate the Berne Convention to which both the United States and Canada are signatories."
4/2. The California Supreme Court issued its opinion [PDF] in Preston v. Board of Equalization, a case regarding whether a copyright interest in artwork, transferred in conjunction with the temporary transfer of the tangible artwork itself, is subject to California state sales tax. The California Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeal, and held that the relevant state statute exempts the copyright transfer at issue from taxation.
4/2. The U.S. Court of Appeals (Fed Cir) heard oral argument in Techsearch v. Intel, Appeal No. 00-1226.
4/2. The U.S. Court of Appeals (Fed Cir) heard oral argument in Semitool v. Novellus Systems, Appeal No. 00-1375.
Fast Track
4/2. President Bush met at the White House with a group of Senators and Representatives who are active on trade issues. Bush advocated passing fast track trade negotiating authority for the President. He stated that "We've got a lot of work to do in order to get trade promotion authority, but I'm confident that we can work together to do so. ... This is an issue that is going to require close cooperation between members of the Republican Party and the Democrat Party.  But that's achievable ..." See, transcript.
High Tech Tax Issues
4/2. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, gave a speech to the Tax Executives Institute, in which he reviewed tax issues likely to be addressed by the Senate this year, including the R&D tax credit, Internet taxes, and the Foreign Sales Corporation (FSC) tax regime. He made no predictions about the R&D tax credit, but pointed out that the only corporate tax provision in President Bush's tax plan is making the R&D tax credit permanent.
Sen. Grassley stated that "It is very likely that the Finance Committee will address electronic commerce issues this year. The present federal moratorium on the states' ability to tax Internet transactions expires this fall. The challenging issues involved in the interstate and international aspects of Internet transactions will certainly be part of the Finance Committee's upcoming slate of projects."
Sen. Grassley also touched on the ongoing FSC dispute. "Many of you have been closely following last year's legislation repealing the foreign sales corporation provisions. It appears the WTO will not issue a decision until this summer. Be assured that the Finance Committee is following the WTO case closely and is prepared to respond if necessary." The FSC tax regime (which the WTO ruled to be an illegal export subsidy), and the replacement legislation (enacted late last year, and currently under review by the WTO), benefit U.S. high tech exporters.
More News
4/2. The FCC adopted a Second Report and Order adopting modifications to its LPFM service rules. See, FCC release. See, MM Docket 99-25.
3/29. The U.S. Court of Appeals (4thCir) issued its opinion in Drews v. Silicon Gaming, a case regarding construction of an arbitration provision in a distribution contract between the manufacturer and distributor of video gambling machines.
4/2. Robert Koppel, VP of Wireless Regulatory Affairs for WorldCom, called Verizon Wireless' request to delay MDS and ITFS applications "a transparent and unconscionable effort to use the regulatory process to delay broadband competition to Verizon's DSL service." See, WorldCom's comment [PDF] of April 2, and Verizon's petition to the FCC [PDF] of March 27. The FCC is examining whether spectrum in the 2500-2690 MHz band might be reallocated, shared or segmented, for use by Third Generation (3G) wireless technologies. MDS and ITFS operators are incumbent users of spectrum in this band. See, FCC's ET Docket No. 00-258.
Digital Divide
4/2. The Public Voice, a project of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), released a report titled "The Public Voice and the Digital Divide: A Report to the DOT Force."
4/2. Dianne Cornell will leave the FCC, where she is currently Associate Bureau Chief of the WTB. She will become VP for Regulatory Policy at the CTIA.
4/2. Debra Valentine, General Counsel of the FTC, will return to the law firm of O'Melveny and Myers as a partner. She worked at the firm prior to joining the FTC in 1995. John Graubert, who is currently the Deputy General Counsel, will be acting General Counsel. See, FTC release.
The Senate will debate the FY 2002 budget resolution.
8:30 AM - 5:00 PM. The NTIA and FTC will hold a public workshop on the benefits and burdens of requiring consumer consent to receive information electronically. These agencies are required by the E-SIGN Act, passed last year, to conduct a study. Location: Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC. See, notice published in the Federal Register.
10:00 AM. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on online entertainment and copyright law. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) will preside. Location: Room 226, Dirksen Building.
10:00 AM - 12:00 NOON. The USPTO will hold recruitment meeting for students majoring in engineering, science or computer science who may be interested in becoming patent examiners. Location: Patent Theatre, 2121 Crystal Drive, 2nd Floor, Arlington, Virginia. See, notice.
10:00 AM. The House Government Reform Committee's Technology and Procurement Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled "Enterprise-Wide Strategies for Managing Information Resources and Technology: Learning From State and Local Governments". Location: Room 2154, Rayburn Building.
2:00 PM. The House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection will hold a hearing titled An Examination of Existing Federal Statutes Addressing Information Privacy. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) will preside. Location: Room 2123, Rayburn Building. The scheduled witnesses are:
  Michael Lamb (AT&T).
  Richard Varn (State of Iowa).
  Anne Fortney (Lovells).
  Rick Fischer (Morrison & Foerster
  Ronald Plesser (Piper Marbury).
  Ed Mierzwinski (USPIRG).
  Richard Smith (Privacy Foundation).
  Frank Torres (Consumers Union).
  Jonathan Zuck (ACT).
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