Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
June 28, 2001, 8:00 AM ET, Alert No. 218.
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eBay's Whitman Visits Congress
6/27. eBay P/CEO Meg Whitman spoke at a Congressional Internet Caucus luncheon. She was joined at the head table by Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT), Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT), Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Jerry Berman and Todd Cohen (eBay Director of Public Policy). She advocated "anti spam legislation, including an e-mail anti harvesting prohibition". She elaborated that "what we see is robots come to the site ... who steal the e-mail addresses off of the site." This, she said, upsets eBay customers, and violates their privacy. However, she also stated that she is opposed to online privacy legislation at this time. She stated that "self regulation has a pretty good chance of succeeding." She also stated that the Internet shakeout has left fewer companies. These companies are stronger, and are in business for the long run, and hence, are less apt to commit privacy violations.
Whitman also advocated passage of "strong database protection". In the 106th Congress (1999-2000) the House Judiciary Committee and the House Commerce Committee passed vastly different database protection bills. Neither was considered on the House floor. Todd Cohen predicted that the House will pass a database protection bill in this Congress, because both committees now have new chairmen, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA), who are committed to working together to pass a bill.
Whitman also advocated "increased cyber security penalties and enforcement." She said that "eight or ten times a day someone will try to hack the site." She also backed an "extension of the Internet tax moratorium."
Several Representatives attended the luncheon, including Sue Myrick (R-NC), Vern Ehlers (R-MI), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Jane Harman (D-CA), Adam Smith (D-WA), and Lamar Smith (R-TX).
NTIA and FTC Release Report on E-SIGN Consumer Consent Provision
6/27. The NTIA and FTC released a report on the consumer consent provisions of the E-SIGN Act. Last year, the Congress passed, and President Clinton signed, the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (ESIGN) Act, a bill intended to promote electronic commerce by providing for the acceptance of electronic signatures and records in interstate commerce. The Act required this report.
The report concluded that "the benefits of the consumer consent provision of ESIGN outweigh the burdens of its implementation on electronic commerce. The provision facilitates e-commerce and the use of electronic records and signatures while enhancing consumer confidence. It preserves the right of consumers to receive written information required by state and federal law. The provision also discourages deception and fraud by those who might fail to provide consumers with information the law requires that they receive. The consumer consent provision in Section 101(c)(1)(C)(ii) appears to be working satisfactorily at this stage of the Act's implementation." See also, NTIA release and FTC release.
Eileen Harrington, Associate Director of Marketing Practices at the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, will testify regarding the report to the House Financial Services Committee's Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy, Technology and Economic Growth at 9:30 AM on Thursday, June 28.
Powell Proposes 3G Delay
6/27. FCC Chairman Michael Powell wrote a letter [PDF] to Commerce Secretary Donald Evans regarding the timetable for identifying additional spectrum for use by third generation (3G) wireless services. 3G services are intended to bring broadband Internet access to portable devices. The Department of Commerce previously released a plan  suggesting the completion of a 3G allocation proceeding by the end of July. Chairman Powell wrote that "As July draws near, however, it is apparent that additional time is necessary to allow the Commission and the Executive Branch to complete a careful and complete evaluation of the various possible options for making additional spectrum available for advanced wireless services." He concluded that "the public interest would be best served by additional time for informed consideration, even if this results in some delay in reaching allocation decisions."
Trade Promotion Authority
6/26. Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) spoke in the Senate against granting the President trade promotion authority. He stated that it would be "a wholesale surrender of Congress' constitutional authority over foreign commerce, as well as the evisceration of the normal rules of procedure for the consideration of Presidentially negotiated trade agreements." Sen. Byrd's speech was a reaction to the introduction in the Senate of S 1104 by Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL), Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-AK), and others.
Sen. Byrd also spoke on the importance of Roman history to the present debate over trade negotiations. "First, Sulla became dictator in 82 B.C. He was dictator from 82 to 80. Then he walked away from the dictatorship, and he became counsel in 79. He died in 78 B.C., probably of cancer of the colon," explained Sen. Byrd.
House Holds Hearing on the TEACH Act
6/27. The House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property held a legislative hearing on S 487, the Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act of 2001, also known as the TEACH Act. This bill, which passed the Senate on June 7 by unanimous consent, would extend the distance learning exemption to infringement contained in Section 110 of the Copyright Act to Internet technologies.
Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC), the Subcommittee Chairman, and Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), the ranking member, both advocated passage of S 487, as passed by the Senate, without further amendment. Rep. Coble stated that "it is my preference to move S 487 expeditiously and without amendment through the Committee and to the House floor." All witnesses advocated passage of S 487, as passed by the Senate. Register of Copyrights Marybeth Peters testified that the "Copyright Office strongly supports the carefully negotiated compromise reflected in S 487 as passed by the Senate." Allan Adler of the Association of American Publishers, and John Vaughn of the Association of American Universities, also testified in support of S 487.
Non Profit Libraries. There is a second version of the bill, HR 2100, the Twenty-First Century Distance Learning Enhancement Act, that is sponsored by Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA). It has one major difference. It would add nonprofit libraries to the covered entities. The Senate bill covers educational institutions, but not libraries. The difference is significant. The original version of S 487 was opposed by content owners who feared that the original version would have allowed abuse of the exemption. Under the direction of the bill's cosponsors, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), representatives of affected groups negotiated for several weeks to produce a compromise version of the bill. The Boucher version ignores that compromise, and the consensus that it built. Neither Rep. Boucher nor Rep. Issa attended the hearing, and no other member of the Subcommittee advocated their version of the bill.
Anti Circumvention Provisions. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) had a different concern with the language of the bill. The bill requires that educational institutions "not engage in conduct that could reasonably be expected to interfere with technological measures used by copyright owners to prevent such retention or unauthorized further dissemination". She does not want the bill to prevent professors from presenting papers on encryption at academic conferences. She suggested that this language may warrant further clarification.
Background. S 487 would extend the exemption for distance learning to cover the Internet and other digital delivery media. The bill is of immediate concern to rural schools, where students are dispersed, and colleges that are offering online courses to distant students and busy adults who cannot attend their brick and mortar classroom sessions. The bill may also facilitate a shift from face to face classroom based models of education to online teaching models. When Congress amended copyright law in 1976 to create the distance learning exemption, the hot new technology was analog closed circuit TV. That statute did not reference the Internet. Also, the 1976 law did not address the copying of files from one computer to another that is an inherent part of the operation of the Internet. S 487 would exempt "work produced or marketed primarily for performance or display as part of mediated instructional activities transmitted via digital networks", provided that several conditions are met. One of these conditions is that it be "made by, at the direction of, or under the actual supervision of an instructor as an integral part of a class session offered as a regular part of the systematic mediated instructional activities of ... an accredited nonprofit educational institution".
Rep. Coble Comments on NYT v. Tasini
6/27. Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC), the Chairman of the House Courts, Internet and Intellectual Property Subcommittee, spoke with reporters after the TEACH Act hearing about the Supreme Court's June 25 opinion [PDF] in New York Times v. Tasini, a case regarding the application of copyright law to the republication of the articles of free lance writers in electronic databases. He stated that "I don't disagree with that opinion." However, he added, "Let us examine that in detail." He also stated that no groups have contacted him regarding legislation to change the outcome of NYT v. Tasini. Justice Stevens wrote in his dissent to that 7-2 opinion that "congressional action may ultimately be necessary".
NIST Approves PIPS 140-2
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) published a notice in the Federal Register announcing its approval of Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2, Security Requirements for Cryptographic Modules. FIPS 140-2 supersedes FIPS 140-1, and is compulsory and binding on federal agencies for the protection of sensitive unclassified information. This standard is effective November 25, 2001. See, Federal Register, June 27, 2001, Vol. 66, No. 124, at Pages 34154 - 34155.
InterTrust Amends Patent Infringement Complaint
6/27. Intertrust Technologies filed an amended complaint [PDF] in U.S. District Court (NDCal) against Microsoft alleging infringement of U.S. Patents Nos. 6,185,683 and 6,253,193. The complaint was amended to include a claim of infringement of the '193 patent, which was issued on June 26. It discloses systems and methods for secure transaction management and electronic rights protection. The patent abstract states that "Electronic appliances such as computers equipped in accordance with the present invention help to ensure that information is accessed and used only in authorized ways, and maintain the integrity, availability, and/or confidentiality of the information." The '683 patent also pertains to digital rights management. The two count complaint seeks declarations that Microsoft has infringed, has induced others to infringe, and has contributorily infringed, both patents; it also seeks preliminary and injunctive relief, and damages.
Thursday, June 28
9:00 AM. The United States Trade Representative will hold a meeting of the Industry Sector Advisory Committee on Services (ISAC-13). The agenda includes trade promotion authority and international trade agreements. The meeting will be open to the public from 9:00 to 9:45 AM, and closed to the public from 9:45 AM to 12:00 NOON. See, notice in Federal Register. Location: Conference Room 6057, Department of Commerce, 14th Street between Pennsylvania and Constitution Avenues, NW., Washington DC.
9:30 AM. The House Financial Services Committee's Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy, Technology and Economic Growth will hold a hearing titled ESIGN -- Encouraging the Use of Electronic Signatures in the Financial Services Industry. Location: Room 2128, Rayburn House Office Building.
10:00 AM. The Senate Appropriations Committee's Commerce, Justice, State, and the Judiciary Subcommittee will hold a hearings on proposed budget estimates for FY 2002 for the Federal Communications Commission and Securities and Exchange Commission. Location: Room 192, Dirksen Senate Office Building.
Friday, June 29
10:00 AM. Walt Strack, Chief Economist of the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, will give a keynote address titled "Wireless Telecommunications in the U.S." at the 2001 International Communications Forecasting Conference. Location: Arlington, VA.
DOJ Requires Thomson to Divest Computer Based Testing Assets
6/27. The U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, reached an settlement agreement in which it approved Thomson Corporation's acquisition of Harcourt General Inc. businesses from Reed Elsevier subject to Thomson's sale of certain overlapping products and services resulting from the acquisition. Thomson will sell certain college textbook products and portions of Assessment Systems, Inc., a computer based testing business. To put this agreement into effect, the DOJ filed a complaint and proposed consent decree in U.S. District Court (DDC). See, DOJ release, Thomson release, and Reed Elsevier release.
Charles James, the recently appointed Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Antitrust Division, stated that "Without these divestitures, college students would likely have paid higher prices for a variety of important textbooks. In addition, both professional organizations that offer computer based tests, and candidates seeking to take those tests, would likely have faced higher prices and diminished innovation for such services."
More News
6/27. The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments gave the USPTO an award for its Trademark Work at Home Program. 90 out of 400 trademark examining attorneys telecommute from home using workstations supplied by the USPTO. See, USPTO release.
6/26. EU Competition Commissioner Mario Monti gave a speech in Brussels on antitrust cooperation between the U.S. and E.U.
6/27. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) introduced the Class Action Fairness Act.
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