Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
June 6, 2001, 8:00 AM ET, Alert No. 202.
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PPI Backs Anti Spam Legislation
6/4. The Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) a think tank of the New Democrats released a paper titled "E-Mail Spam Labeling: Why the Cyberlibertarians Have It Wrong." It states that the House Judiciary Committee "gutted" HR 718, a bill sponsored by Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) and Rep. Gene Green (D-TX), that the House Commerce Committee had previously adopted. The PPI report also defended an amendment offered by Rep. Melissa Hart (R-PA), which was adopted by the Judiciary Committee, that would require any spam that contained pormographic content to be labeled as such. The report specifically rebuts another report by the Center for Democracy and Technology which criticized the Hart amendment. The PPI report was authored by Shane Ham.
6/5. The House Judiciary Committee issued its report on its version of HR 718.
USPTO Authorization
6/5. Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC), Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) introduced HR 2047, a bill to authorize appropriations for the USPTO for FY 2002, and for other purposes. It was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
USPTO Seeks Comments Regarding Business Method Patents
6/5. The USPTO published a notice in the Federal Register requesting comments from the public regarding optional search criteria used during examination of patent applications related to computer implemented Business Methods in Class 705. The USPTO seeks comments concerning databases, documenting practices, procedures, and developments, in specific industries within the computer implemented business method field, to identify additional information and materials that could be considered during the examination process. The recommended database will be reviewed quarterly. Database recommendations received before June 30, 2001, will be included in the first evaluation process which will commence on July 31, 2001.
GAO Reports on USPTO Lease
6/5. The GAO issued a report [PDF] written for Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) regarding Acquisition of Leased Space for the USPTO. The report concluded: "we found nothing improper in GSA's award of the lease for the PTO facility. This procurement has also been reviewed by the Department of Commerce's (DOC) Inspector General and later in litigation in federal court. None of these reviews resulted in a conclusion that the procurement activities had been conducted improperly." Currently, the USPTO has 33 leases occupying all or portions of 18 buildings in Crystal City, Virginia. On June 1, 2000, the GSA signed a 20 year lease with LCOR Alexandria for 2.2 million rentable square feet to house 7,100 USPTO staff at the Carlyle site in Alexandria, Virginia. The lease is valued at $1.24 Billion over 20 years, plus operating expenses and taxes.
Computer Crime
6/5. Michael Wallace plead guilty in U.S. District Court to two counts of theft of government property and unauthorized removal of classified materials. The defendant, a  former computer specialist for the Department of State, stole computer equipment from the government and removed equipment containing classified national security information without authorization. See, DOJ release.
6/1. Roosevelt Bailey was sentenced in U.S. District Court (SDInd) to 18 months imprisonment following his guilty plea to trafficking in counterfeit computer software, including Adobe products, and tax evasion. See, DOJ release.
More News
6/4. Timothy Muris was sworn in as Chairman of the FTC. See, FTC release.
6/5. MusicNet and Napster announced they have reached an agreement under which Napster will become an affiliate of MusicNet. See, Napster release.
6/5. The Intellectual Property Owners Association gave its Legislator of the Year award to Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT).
6/5. The American Enterprise Institute hosted a book event titled Privacy in Perspective. The author and speaker was Fred Cate, an AEI Visiting Scholar and Indiana University Law School professor.
New Documents
PPI: paper on anti spam legislation, 6/5 (HTML, PPI).
GAO: report on USPTO lease, 6/5 (PDF, GAO).
Tauzin Dingell Bill Criticized at Judiciary Committee Hearing
6/5. The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on HR 1542, the Tauzin Dingell bill to provide protection to the Bell companies. Committee members made statements, and four witness testified. See, prepared statements of Jim Glassman (AEI), Margaret Greene (BellSouth), Clark McLeod (McLeod USA), and Tom Tauke (Verizon). HR 1542 would provide, among other things, interlata data relief for the RBOCs. Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) are sponsors of a competing pair of bills that would provide further protection for CLECs. Supporters of both the Tauzin Dingell bill and the Cannon Conyers bills assert that their bills would promote the deployment of broadband services.
Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), the Chairman of the Committee, stated in his opening opening statement that he has not taken a position in the debate. He also explained the limited jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committee over HR 1542: "The referral to this Committee by the Speaker is specifically, quote, for consideration of such provisions in the bill and amendment recommended by the Committee on Energy and Commerce as to close or narrow the purview of the Attorney General under Section 271 of the Communications Act of 1934." He then devoted himself to keeping the hearing in order and on schedule.
Rep. Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the Committee, is an ardent opponent of the Tauzin Dingell bill. He stated that "The Telecommunications Act of 1996 unleashed a flood of new investment directed at that last mile bottleneck. Many new companies were created to bring consumers new choices, including new services. And these competitive carriers use all of the means open to them to compete against monopolies that have become entrenched over the course of a century. ... Believing in the promise of the 96 Act the CLECs invested billions of dollars ... But, today most of the companies have been devastated by behavior and procrastination on the part of the Bell systems, which have ironically regrouped, and in some ways become stronger than they were before the 1996 Telecommunications Act."
Two witnesses testified in favor of the bill: Tom Tauke and Margaret Greene. Both work for Bell companies that would benefit from the protections offered by the bill. Tauke argued that the provisions of the Telecom Act of 1996 that require the Bells to open their networks to competitors should apply to voice, but not data, communications. He said that "HR 1542 stops the application of rules that were intended for the voice telephony market to the broadband services market. These are two very distinct markets." Green argued that the cable companies which offer broadband Internet access are not subject to regulation, so the phone companies should not be either. Several members of the Committee also spoke in favor of the bill, including Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA), Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), and Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL).
Two witnesses opposed the Tauzin Dingell bill: Clark McLeod, of McLeadUSA, and James Glassman, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and publisher of the Tech Central Station web site. McLeod stated that HR 1542 "strengthens the Bell monopoly by restricting access to the local loop." He added that "it is moving our industry towards re- monopolization."
Glassman stated that "HR 1542 is being promoted as a way to boost deployment of high-speed data services. In fact, it will produce the opposite result. It will severely harm prospects for sustainable and effective telecommunications competition and it will further deter the deployment of broadband Internet technology and do substantial damage to the U.S. economy as a result. You cannot have real consumer choice and the benefits that flow from it without competition, and you cannot have competition without competitors. HR 1542 would eviscerate the crucial provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that have created the competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) industry and, make no mistake, kill that industry kill the competitors, both current and future."
Several members of the Committee criticized HR 1542, including Conyers, Cannon, Nadler, and Weiner.
Glassman: Bells Push HR 1542 to Slow CLEC Investment
6/5. The Bell companies and their lobbyists have been pushing hard for passage of HR 1542, the Tauzin Dingell bill. It currently has 100 cosponsors in the House. Also, it has been approved by the House Commerce Committee. However, it is widely regarded to have very little chance of passing the Senate. This has lead to speculation as to why the Bell companies are lobbying and advertising intensively for the bill.
James Glassman offered his explanation at the House Judiciary Committee's hearing on the bill. He stated during his oral testimony and responses to questions that HR 1542 has had the effect of drying up new investment in CLECs.
However, he went a step further in the written testimony that he submitted to the Committee. He suggested that stopping the flow of capital to CLECs is the RBOCs' purpose in pushing this bill. He stated the "The high level of uncertainty introduced simply by Congressional consideration of HR 1542 is exactly the type of force that squashes investment. Moreover, it raises the possibility that the Bell monopolies are purposefully lobbying heavily for bills such as this one because they are well aware that uncertainty about those changes can itself accomplish the job of slowing CLEC investment. Because of their smaller size and greater need for financial resources, CLECs suffer disproportionately when regulatory uncertainty contributes to raising the costs for financial capital. That is one of the preliminary conclusions of our study, but common sense would indicate its truth."
Carlisle Appointed to Common Carrier Bureau
6/5. FCC Chairman Michael Powell appointed Jeffrey Carlisle Senior Deputy Chief of the Common Carrier Bureau, effective June 11, 2001. Carlisle currently practices law, and is VP for interconnected services and regulatory affairs at INLEC Communications, a company that constructs and manages broadband infrastructure within residential apartment buildings. Previously, he was an associate in the Washington DC office of the law firm of O'Melveny & Myers, where he focused on telecommunications mergers and acquisitions and competitive entry into local exchange markets.
Wednesday, June 6
The House will meet at 10:00 AM for legislative business.
The IPO will hold a day long conference on Corporate IP Management. Location: the new Ritz-Carlton in Washington DC. For information call the IPO office at 202-466-2396.
9:00 - 11:30 AM. The President's National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee will hold a closed meeting. Location: Department of State, Washington DC. See, notice in Federal Register, April 20, 2001, Vol. 66, No. 77, at Pages 20336 - 20337.
10:00 AM. The Senate Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies will hold a hearing on proposed budget estimates for FY 2002 for the National Science Foundation and the Office of Science Technology Policy. Location: Room 138, Dirksen Building.
2:00 PM. The House Judiciary Committee will hold an oversight hearing on the Justice Department. Attorney General John Ashcroft will testify. Location: Room 2141, Rayburn House Office Building.
2:00 - 4:00 PM. The House Science Committee will hold a hearing titled NSF FY02 Budget Request: Research and Related Activities. Location: Room 2318, Rayburn House Office Building.
Thursday, June 7
12:00 NOON. The Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee will host a luncheon and panel discussion on issues raised in the Tauzin Dingell and Cannon Conyers bills. RSVP to RSVP@netcaucus.org or telephone Danielle at 202-638-4370. Location: Room HC-5, U.S. Capitol Building.
2:00 PM. The House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Courts, Internet and Intellectual Property will hold an oversight hearing on titled The Operations of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Including Review of Agency Funding. Location: Room 2141, Rayburn House Office Building.
Media Coverage of Court Proceedings
6/5. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), and others, introduced S 986, a bill that would allow federal trial and appellate judges to permit cameras in their courtrooms. The bill would also direct the Judicial Conference, the federal courts' principal policy making body, to draft non-binding guidelines that judges can refer to in making a decision pertaining to the coverage of a particular case. It was referred the the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which both Grassley and Schumer are members.
Sen. Grassley stated that "Chief Justice Rehnquist allowed the delayed audio broadcasting of the oral arguments before the Supreme Court in the 2000 presidential election dispute. The Supreme Court's response to our request was an historic, major step in the right direction. Since then, other courts have followed suit, such as the live audio broadcast of oral arguments before the D.C. Circuit in the Microsoft antitrust case and the televising of appellate proceedings before the Ninth Circuit in the Napster copyright case. The public wants to see what is happening in these important judicial proceedings, and the benefits are significant in terms of public knowledge and discussion."
Two Representatives Oppose NTR Status for PRC
6/5. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced HJRes 50, a joint resolution disapproving the extension of the waiver authority contained in section 402(c) of the Trade Act of 1974 with respect to the People's Republic of China (PRC). The resolution would prevent the extension of normal trade relations status (formerly known as most favored nation status) to the PRC. It was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. See, Rohrabacher release and Brown release.
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