|European Commission Seeks 497 Million Euros
and Code Removal from Microsoft
3/24. The European Commission (EC) announced, but did not release the text
of, a decision that imposes a record fine upon Microsoft of 497.2 Million Euros, orders
Microsoft to make changes to its software sold in Europe, and orders
Microsoft to disclose certain information to its competitors.
The EC issued a short
press release describing its decision. It states that "Microsoft is
required, within 120 days, to disclose complete and accurate interface
documentation which would allow non-Microsoft work group servers to achieve full
interoperability with Windows PCs and servers."
The decision also addresses Microsoft's Windows Media Player (WMP), which
allows users to, among other things, play music and video on their computers.
The EC release states that "Microsoft is required, within 90 days, to offer to
PC manufacturers a version of its Windows client PC operating system without WMP."
The EC asserted that the basis for these actions is that Microsoft "broke
European Union competition law by leveraging its near monopoly in the market for
PC operating systems (OS) onto the markets for work group server operating
systems and for media players".
The EC also issued a second
Ed Black, President of the Computer &
Communications Industry Association (CCIA), an anti-Microsoft interest
group, praised the EC decision. He stated in a
release that "The
European Commission's decision today is another confirmation of Microsoft's
anti-competitive and illegal business tactics."
He added a criticism of the U.S. Department of
Justice. "The past has shown all to well that many authorities lack the
sustained will to effectively check the abuses of such a powerful firm. It is with this
dubious past in mind that we look towards the enforcement process as a key to restoring
the competitive landscape to the software market."
Microsoft announced that it will challenge the decision in the
of First Instance. See, following story, titled "Microsoft Will Challenge EC
Decision in Court".
The U.S. Department of Justice, which has already sued and settled with
Microsoft, issued a statement that is critical of the EC decision. See,
following story, titled "US Antitrust Chief Says EU's Microsoft
Decision Could Harm Innovation and Consumers".
|US Antitrust Chief Says EU's Microsoft
Decision Could Harm Innovation and Consumers
3/24. Hewitt Pate, the
Assistant Attorney General in charge of the U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ)
Antitrust Division, issued a
criticizing the action taken by the European Commission against
Microsoft. He stated that the code removal requirement "risks protecting
competitors, not competition, in ways that may ultimately harm innovation and the consumers
that benefit from it". He also criticized the fine, stating that "For this fine
to surpass even the fines levied against members of the most notorious price
fixing cartels may send an unfortunate message about the appropriate hierarchy
of enforcement priorities."
Pate (at right) first
reviewed the history of the US antitrust action against Microsoft. He then wrote
that "The United States' Final Judgment provides clear and effective protection
for competition and consumers by preventing affirmative misconduct by Microsoft
that would inhibit competition in 'middleware' programs, such as the web browser
that was the subject of the United States' lawsuit and the media player that is
the subject of the EC's action today. The Final Judgment, for example, prohibits
the use by Microsoft of exclusive contracts or other provisions that inhibit
competition, prohibits anticompetitive manipulation of icons and default
settings, and requires Microsoft to provide information to allow
'interoperability' of competitors' software. The United States continues to be
active in its enforcement of Microsoft's compliance with the Final Judgment, and
this work has resulted in substantial changes to Microsoft's business
In contrast, wrote Pate, "The EC has today pursued a different
enforcement approach by imposing a
'code removal' remedy to resolve its media player concerns. The U.S. experience
tells us that the best antitrust remedies eliminate impediments to the healthy
functioning of competitive markets without hindering successful competitors or
imposing burdens on third parties, which may result from the EC's remedy. A
requirement of 'code removal' was not at any time -- including during the period
when the U.S. was seeking a breakup of Microsoft prior to the rejection of that
remedy by the court of appeals -- part of the United States' proposed
Pate continued that "Imposing antitrust liability on the basis
of product enhancements and
imposing 'code removal' remedies may produce unintended consequences. Sound
antitrust policy must avoid chilling innovation and competition even by
'dominant' companies. A contrary approach risks protecting competitors, not
competition, in ways that may ultimately harm innovation and the consumers
that benefit from it. It is significant that the U.S. district court considered
and rejected a similar remedy in the U.S. litigation."
He then criticized the fine. "While the imposition of a civil fine
is a customary and accepted aspect of
EC antitrust enforcement, it is unfortunate that the largest antitrust fine ever
levied will now be imposed in a case of unilateral competitive conduct, the most
ambiguous and controversial area of antitrust enforcement. For this fine to
surpass even the fines levied against members of the most notorious price fixing
cartels may send an unfortunate message about the appropriate hierarchy of
Pate did not offer any criticism of the interoperability remedy, which
requires Microsoft to license technologies used by Microsoft server software to
communicate with other Microsoft software on a network, at this time.
|Microsoft Will Challenge EC Decision in
Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, stated at a
press conference regarding the European Commission's announcement that "the
legal review process begins".
SVP and General Counsel of Microsoft, added that "we now will move forward with the
legal process in Europe. We will file our appeal in accordance with the timetable set by the
European Court of
First Instance, and we will ask the court to suspend many or perhaps all of the
sanctions that the European Commission ordered today." See,
right) added that "We will definitely ask the court to suspend a number of the
sanctions, including the code-removal sanction that was addressed in the Media Player
Smith offered his assessment of the US and EC antitrust actions. "We
think that today's decision is a step in the wrong direction. It's an
unfortunate step and it's an unnecessary step. The U.S. government spent over
five years addressing these issues, and at the conclusion of that process it put
in place the consent decree that addresses these issues, including Windows Media
Player. The Department of Justice put in place a regime that created new
opportunities for our competitors and new opportunities for PC manufacturers to
install competing media players, and change the default setting on PCs, and even
remove end-user access if they wish to our Windows Media Player."
"In contrast," said Smith, "the code-removal approach that
the commission pursued today is an approach that in our view will help a small number of
competitors -- at least that is its theory -- at the expense not only of our
innovation but at the expense of consumers as well. And it's worth noting that
the same competitors that have sought this outcome in Europe also sought it in
the United States. They encouraged the states' attorneys general to ask the
District Court in Washington, D.C. in 2002 to issue a code-removal remedy. And
the District Court in D.C. listened to over 60 days of testimony from witnesses,
and then issued a very considered opinion. The court rejected the precise
code-removal remedy that the commission has endorsed.
Smith then recited three quotes from the District Court: "innovation would be
stifled"; "this would disrupt the industry, harming independent software vendors
and consumers"; and "clear and certain harm to the entire personal computer
He continued that "So our competitors had their day in court, and it's
unfortunate that after that day came and went they simply chose to move across the
Atlantic to try to have a day in another court. And we think it's especially unfortunate
that the European Commission today embarked on a remedy that shows so little regard for
the work and decision-making of the U.S. government, and so little regard for
the comity proceedings or processes that are established under the commission's
1991 treaty with the Department of Justice. This is a case that started in the
United States. Microsoft is an American company. The complainant companies are
American companies. The software is designed in the United States, and the U.S.
government dealt with the issues thoroughly. There was no need for the
commission to disrupt that regime with this conflicting approach in which it's
|4th Circuit Affirms That Section 230 Immunity Extends to
Federal Civil Rights Action
3/24. The U.S. Court of Appeals
(4thCir) issued its
pages in PDF] in Noah v. AOL, affirming the District Court's opinion
that Section 230 of the
Communications Act immunizes AOL from claims that it violated the Civil Rights Act of
1964 when it provided chat rooms in which subscribers mocked Noah's religious beliefs.
The interactive computer service immunity clause, which is
codified at 47 U.S.C. § 230, was enacted as a part of
the Communications Decency Act. Since then, AOL and other interactive computer
services have prevailed in numerous cases by invoking Section 230.
However, this case is significant, because most earlier cases
involved state law tort claims of defamation or negligence. In the present case,
the District Court held, and the Appeals Court affirmed, that Section 230
immunity extends to claims under federal statutes.
The case may also be significant because of the District Court's
alternative basis for dismissing the case -- that an internet chat room is not a
"public accommodation" within the meaning of Title II of the Civil Rights Act.
The District Court's analysis may be noteworthy because there are situations
were an online activity may not qualify for interactive computer service immunity,
but might assert that it is not a "public accommodation". For example, the
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people
with disabilities in public accommodation. A website operator that is sued or
prosecuted under the public accommodation provision of the ADA might assert the
present case as authority for the proposition that it is not a public
Although, the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division may
not share the 4th Circuit's understandings of either Section 230 immunity or
Background. Saad Noah is a Muslim who was a subscriber to
America Online's (AOL) interactive computer service. AOL operates online chat
rooms that enable subscribers to post messages. Two of these chat rooms were named
"Beliefs Islam" and "Koran".
Noah states that other AOL subscribers posted messages in
these chat rooms that insulted, threatened, mocked, ridiculed, and spread
misinformation about Islam. Indeed, 20 pages of the 29 pages of his first complaint
recite vulgar posts in these chat rooms.
On August 30, 2001, Saad Noah filed a
complaint [29 page PDF scan] in U.S.
District Court (EDVa) against AOL Time Warner and AOL. The two count
complaint alleged violation of Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by
discrimination in public accommodation (42 U.S.C. §
2000a), and breach of contract. Noah sought class action status. The alleged
class is all Muslims who subscribed to AOL and whose religious beliefs were
insulted. He subsequently filed a pro se complaint on September 3, 2002.
AOL and AOL TW filed
a motion to dismiss plaintiff's claims on January 22, 2003.
47 U.S.C. § 230(c)(1) provides that
"No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the
publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content
47 U.S.C. § 230(f)(2) provides
that "The term ``interactive computer service´´ means any information service,
system, or access software provider that provides or enables computer access by
multiple users to a computer server, including specifically a service or system
that provides access to the Internet and such systems operated or services
offered by libraries or educational institutions.
47 U.S.C. § 2000a provides, in part, that "All persons shall be entitled to
the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges,
advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined
in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race,
color, religion, or national origin." The statute goes on to define public
accommodations as hotels, restaurants, theaters, and related facilities.
District Court Opinion. The District Court issued its
opinion on May
13, 2003 granting the motion to dismiss. It wrote that "Plaintiff's Title II
claim fails for two alternate and independent reasons. First, plaintiff's claim
against AOL is barred because of the immunity granted AOL, as an interactive
computer service provider, by the Communications Decency Act of 1996, 47 U.S.C.
§ 230. Second, plaintiff's claim fails because a chat room is not a ``place of
public accommodation´´ as defined by Title II, 42 U.S.C. § 2000a(b)."
The Court wrote, citing
AOL, that "the ``plain language´´ of §
230 ``creates a federal immunity to any cause of action that would make service
providers liable for information originating with a third-party user of the
service. ... In other words, ``§ 230 precludes
courts from entertaining claims that would place a computer service provider in
a publisher's role,´´ and ``lawsuits seeking to hold a service provider liable for
its exercise of a publisher's traditional editorial functions -- such as
deciding whether to publish, withdraw, postpone, or alter content -- are
barred.´´ ... By specific statutory exclusion, certain causes of action are not
barred by § 230; namely, causes of
action based on (i) federal criminal statutes, (ii) intellectual property
law, (iii) state law ``that is consistent with this section,´´ and (iv) the
Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986."
The District Court continued that
in providing such immunity is evident. As the Fourth Circuit noted in Zeran,
ISPs such as AOL have millions of users who generate a ``staggering´´ amount of
content or information; thus it is ``impossible for service providers to screen
each of their millions of postings for possible problems.´´ ... If ISPs faced
tort liability for information posted through their services by third parties,
they might be forced to restrict access to their public forums. ... Such a
result would be counter to the statutory purpose of ensuring that the
Internet remain a ``forum
for true diversity of political discourse, unique opportunities for cultural
development, and myriad avenues for intellectual activity.´´"
The District Court also wrote that "relying on the
fact that his claim is brought under Title II, not state defamation or
negligence law, plaintiff contends that the claim treats AOL as the owner of a
place of public accommodation, not a ``publisher.´´ This argument, though novel, is
unpersuasive. An examination of the injury claimed by plaintiff and the remedy he
seeks clearly indicates that his Title II claim seeks to ``place´´ AOL ``in a
publisher's role,´´ in violation of § 230."
Finally, the District Court wrote that "Nor can it be plausibly argued
that § 230 is limited to immunity from state law claims for negligence or defamation.
Such a limitation is flatly contradicted by § 230's exclusion of some specific federal
claims. Those exclusions would be superfluous were § 230 immunity applicable only to
certain state claims.
Moreover, the exclusion of federal criminal claims, but not federal civil rights
claims, clearly indicates, under the canon of expressio unius est exclusio alterius,
that Congress did not intend to place federal civil rights claims outside the scope of
§ 230 immunity."
The Appeals Court affirmed the District Court in a brief non-precedential per
The body of the opinion, states, as follows: "Saad S. Noah appeals the
district court’s order granting Defendants' motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.
R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) and dismissing Noah’s cause of action. Noah also appeals
from the scheduling order entered by the magistrate judge. We have reviewed the
record and find no reversible error. Accordingly, we affirm for the reasons
stated by the district court."
The Appeals Court did not explain why it wrote only a brief non-precedential
opinion in a case of such importance. One explanation might be that since this
was a pro se case, Saad Noah might not have litigated and briefed the case with
sufficient zeal and expertise to place the pertinent arguments and authorities
before the court.
This case is Saad Noah v. AOL Time Warner, Inc. and America Online, Inc.,
U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, App Ct. No. 03-1770, an appeal from
the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, D.C. No.
02-1316-A, Judge T.S. Ellis presiding.
3/24. The U.S. Supreme Court issued its
pages in PDF] in Nixon v. Missouri Municipal League reversing the
U.S. Court of Appeals. TLJ will publish a story on this important case in the
3/24. The House passed
the "Multidistrict Litigation Restoration Act of 2004" by a vote
of 418-0. See, Roll Call
3/24. The Senate Foreign Relations
Committee postponed its hearing on intellectual property piracy issues,
which had been scheduled for Wednesday, March 24.
3/23. The Recording Industry Association of
America (RIAA) announced in a
release that "on
behalf of the major record companies, brought a new round of legal action
against individual computer users offering substantial amounts of copyrighted
music files for free on peer-to-peer networks, including illegal file sharers at
21 different universities."
Lamy, the European Union's Trade Commissioner, gave a
speech in Brussels, Belgium on "What role for fair trade in EU Policies?"
3/23. BellSouth issued a
release regarding its contracts with competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs)
for access to its network. The release, quoting various BellSouth officers,
states that "Three times the mandated unbundling rules that govern our current
arrangements have been found illegal by federal courts. It is inevitable that
the below-cost rates we now charge will go away and that true market-based rates
will replace them. What we are offering is in keeping with a call for a
transition period which was issued by Federal Communications Commission Chairman
Michael Powell." See, March 10
[PDF] by Michael Powell,
and story titled "Powell Offers Timetable for FCC's Fourth
Attempt to Write Unbundling Rules" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 854, March 11,
2004. BellSouth added that it is offering CLECs "predictable rates and a
42-month transition with modest increases phased in beginning January 1, 2005
... The offer bridges our regulatory past with our anticipated free market
|Washington Tech Calendar
New items are highlighted in red.
|Thursday, March 25
The House will meet at 10:00 AM for legislative business. The
House will take up several items under suspension of the rules.
See, Republican Whip
The Senate will meet at 9:30 AM for morning
business, and at 10:30 AM to begin consideration of
the "Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004".
8:00 - 9:30 AM. The
Republican Technology Council and the
U.S. Chamber of Commerce will host a
panel discussion titled "Global Competitiveness: Countering Economic
Isolationism". The speakers will include
Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT), Rep. Darrell
Issa (R-CA), and Robert Goodman (Kentron Technologies). RSVP by March 23
to 202 467-4424 or email@example.com.
Location: American Gas Association, 400 North Capital Street.
9:00 AM - 4:30 PM. The
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will
host a meeting title "Emergency Communications and Homeland Security --
Working with the Disability Community". See,
notice [PDF]. Location: FCC, 445 12th Street, SW.
9:30 AM. The
Senate Commerce Committee will
hold a hearing titled "Escalating Cable Rates: Causes and Solutions".
The witnesses will be Mark Goldstein (General
Accounting Office), James Robbins (P/CEO of Cox Communications), George
Bodenheimer (President of ESPN and ABC Sports), Gene Kimmelman (Director of
the Consumers Union), and Rodger Johnson (P/CEO of
Knology). The hearing will
be webcast by the Committee. See,
Location: Room 253, Russell Building.
10:00 AM. The
House Judiciary Committee's
(HJC) Subcommittee on the Constitution will hold a hearing on HRes 568,
which expressing the sense of the House that judicial determinations regarding the
meaning of the laws of the U.S. should not be based on judgments, laws, or
pronouncements of foreign institutions. The hearing will be webcast by the HJC. Press
contact: Jeff Lungren or Terry Shawn at 202 225-2492. Location: Room 2141, Rayburn
12:00 NOON. The Progress and Freedom
Foundation (PFF) will host a debate between Stanford Law School Professor
Lawrence Lessig and
PFF Fellow James DeLong. Lessig will also release his latest book, titled
Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture
and Control Creativity [Amazon order page]. The PFF
states that "Those interested in attending should register by contacting
Brooke Emmerick at 202-289-8928 or
firstname.lastname@example.org. Members of the media should contact David Fish at 202
289-8928 or email@example.com. Location: First
Amendment Lounge, National Press Club, 529
14th St. NW, 13th Floor.
12:00 NOON. The Federal Communications Bar
Association's (FCBA) Common Carrier Practice Committee will host a brown
bag luncheon titled "Distribution of Universal Service Support to High Cost
Areas: Reflections on the Joint Board 'Portability' Proceeding". The
speakers will be Matthew Brill (Senior Legal Advisor to Commissioner
Abernathy), Karen Brinkmann (Latham & Watkins), Joel Lubin (AT&T), David
Sieradzki (Hogan & Hartson). RSVP to Cecelia Burnett at 202-637-8312 or
firstname.lastname@example.org. Location: Hogan &
Hartson, 555 13th St., NW, Lower Level.
2:00 PM. The House
Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and State,
the Judiciary, and Related Agencies will hold a hearing on the proposed
budget for the
U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). USTR
Zoellick is scheduled to testify. Location: Room H-309, Capitol Building.
2:00 PM. The
House Armed Services Committee's
Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities will hold a
hearing on the President's FY 2005 budget request for Department of Defense
science and technology policy programs. The witnesses will be Ronald Sega
(Director, Defense Research and Engineering), Anthony Tether (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency),
Thomas Killion (Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and
Technology), Rear Admiral Jay Cohen (Chief of Naval Research), and James Engle
(Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Science, Technology and
Engineering). Location: Room 2212, Rayburn Building.
2:00 PM. The
House Judiciary Committee's
(HJC) Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, and the
House Homeland Security Committee's
Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism, will hold a joint hearing
titled "Progress in Consolidating Terrorist Watchlists -- The Terrorist
Screening Center (TSC)". The witnesses will be Donna Bucella (Director,
Terrorist Screening Center, FBI), Charlie Bartoldus (Director, National Targeting
Center, Customs and Border Protection, DHS), Jim McMahon (Director, Office of Public
Security, New York), and Jerry Berman (Center for Democracy
and Technology). The hearing will be webcast by the HJC. Press contact: Jeff Lungren
or Terry Shawn at 202 225-2492. Location: Room 2141, Rayburn Building.
4:00 PM. Joseph
Scott Miller (Lewis and Clark Law School) will present a paper titled "Roles
and Rules for Dictionaries in the Patent Office and the Courts". For more
Robert Brauneis at 202 994-6138 or
email@example.com. Location: George
Washington University Law School, Faculty Conference Center, Burns Building,
5th Floor, 716 20th Street, NW.
|Friday, March 26
9:00 AM - 4:00 PM. The
Federal Communications Commission's (FCC)
Consumer Advisory Committee will hold a meeting. See,
agenda [PDF]. Location: FCC, Room TW-C305,
445 12th Street, SW.
9:30 AM. The Consumer Federation of
America (CFA) will host an event titled "Network Neutrality for the
Broadband Internet". The speakers will include
Commission (FCC) Commissioner
Lawrence Lessig (Stanford
Vinton Cerf (MCI WorldCom), and
(University of Virginia Law School), Andrew McLaughlin (Google), and Earl
Comstock. To attend, contact Mark Cooper (CFA) at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 301 384-2204.
Location: Room 628, Dirksen Building, Capitol Hill.
12:15 PM. The Federal Communications Bar
Association's (FCBA) Young Lawyers Committee will host a brown bag lunch
regarding emerging technologies. The speakers will be Jeff Campbell (Cisco),
Mark Murphy (Ericsson), Bill Lane (FCC Office of Strategic Planning), Kenneth
Carter (FCC Office of Strategic Planning). For more information, contact Ken
Kenneth.Carter@fcc.gov or Pam
Slipakoff at Pam.Slipakoff@fcc.gov.
Location: Willkie Farr & Gallagher, 1875 K Street, NW.
|Monday, March 29
8:30 AM - 4:15 PM. The
Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) will
host its event titled "HDTV Summit: Partnership, Policy and Profits".
Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), the Chairman
of the House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the
Internet, will be the keynote speaker at 9:40 AM. Prices vary. See, CEA
notice. Location: Washington DC Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Place,
9:30 AM. The U.S. Court Appeals (DCCir)
will hear oral argument in SBC Communications v. FCC, No.
03-1118. Judges Sentelle, Rogers and Tatel will preside. Location: 333
Deadline to submit comments to various federal agencies regarding whether
these agencies agencies should consider amending existing regulations that
implement sections 502 and 503 of the Gramm Leach Bliley Act (GLB) to allow or
require financial institutions to provide alternative types of privacy
notices. The agencies are the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve
System, Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Federal Deposit Insurance
Corporation (FDIC), Federal Trade Commission
(FTC), National Credit Union Administration, Office of the Comptroller of the
Currency, Office of Thrift Supervision, and the Securities and Exchange
Commission (SEC). See,
notice in the Federal Register, December 30, 2003, Vol. 68, No. 249, at
Pages 75164 - 75174.
|Tuesday, March 30
9:00 AM. The
President's Council of Advisors on
Science and Technology (PCAST) will hold a meeting. The agenda includes "(1)
Discuss a draft report from its workforce-education subcommittee; and (2) continue
its discussion of nanotechnology and its review of the federal National Nanotechnology
Initiative ... " See,
notice in the Federal Register, March 17, 2004, Vol. 69, No. 52, at Page
12694. Location: Crystal Ballroom, St. Regis Hotel, 923 16th Street, NW.
10:00 AM. The
House Appropriations Committee's
Subcommittee on Homeland Security will hold a hearing on the proposed budget
for the Science and Technology directorate at the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
McQueary, Under Secretary for Science and Technology, is scheduled to
testify. Location: Room B-308, Rayburn Building.
10:00 AM - 1:00 PM. The
Federal Communications Commission's (FCC)
Network Reliability and Interoperability Council will meet. See,
notice [PDF] and
agenda [PDF]. Location: FCC, Commission Meeting Room (TW-C305), 445 12th
11:00 AM. The
Heritage Foundation will host a panel discussion titled "Leveraging
Cutting-Edge Commercial Technology For
Defense". Joseph Mait (Center for Technology and National Security
Policy), Stephen Prior (Potomac Institute for Policy Studies), Robert Bott
(Boeing Company), James Jay Carafano (Heritage), and Jack Spencer (Heritage).
Location: Heritage, Lehrman Auditorium, 214 Massachusetts Ave NE.
12:00 NOON. Deadline to submit written comments to the
U.S. Trade Representative's (USTR) Trade
Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) regarding negotiating objectives for the
proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the U.S. and four Andean countries
(Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia). See,
notice in the Federal Register, February 17, 2004, Vol. 69, No. 31, at
Pages 7532 - 7534.
2:00 PM. The
House Appropriations Committee's
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related
Agencies will hold a hearing on the proposed budget for the Departments of
Commerce, Justice and State. The purpose of this hearing is to allow
Members of Congress to testify. Location: Room H-309, Capitol Building.
2:30 PM. The
Senate Commerce Committee will
hold a hearing an several pending nominations, including that of
Theodore Kassinger to be Deputy Secretary of
Commerce. Location: Room 253, Russell Building.
|Wednesday, March 31
10:00 AM. The
House Commerce Committee will
hold a hearing titled "U.S.-China Trade: Preparations for the Joint
Commission on Commerce and Trade". Press contact: Larry Neal or Jon
Tripp at 202 225-5735. The hearing will be webcast. Location: Room 2123, Rayburn Building.
10:00 AM. The House
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related
Agencies will hold a hearing on the proposed budget for the
Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
FCC Chairman Michael Powell
is scheduled to testify. Location: Room H-309, Capitol Building.
12:15 PM. The Federal Communications Bar
Association's (FCBA) Online Communications Practice Committee will host a
brown bag lunch titled "Digital Rights Management". The speakers will
be Mark Cooper (Consumer Federation of America),
and Paul Glist (Cole Raywid & Braverman).
RSVP to Evelyn Opany at 202-689-7163. Location: Cole, Raywid & Braverman, 1919
Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Suite 200.
2:00 - 3:30 PM.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) World RadioCommunication 2007 (WRC-07)
Advisory Committee's Informal Working Group on Regulatory Issues will meet. The FCC
notice [PDF] states that "Non-U.S. citizens who wish to attend must preclear
24 hours in advance of the meeting by e-mailing their name, nationality and company
Location: The Boeing Company, 1200 Wilson Boulevard. The nearest metro stop is
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
(USTR) may conclude its review regarding the operation and effectiveness of,
and the implementation of and compliance with, the World Trade Organization (WTO)
Basic Telecommunications Agreement, other WTO agreements affecting market
opportunities for U.S. telecommunications products and services, the
telecommunications provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement
(NAFTA), Chile FTA and Singapore FTA, and other telecommunications trade
notice in the Federal Register, December 8, 2003, Vol. 68, No. 235, at
Pages 68444 - 68445.
6:00 PM. Deadline to submit applications to the
National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for
grants under the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP).
Deadline to submit reply comments to the
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding
Level 3 Communications' petition for forbearance requesting the FCC to
forbear from application of
47 U.S.C. § 251(g),
the exception clause of § 51.701(b)(1) of the FCC's rules, and § 69.5(b) of
the FCC's rules to the extent those provisions could be interpreted to permit
local exchange carrier (LECs) to impose interstate or intrastate access
charges on internet protocol (IP) traffic that originates or terminates on the
public switched telephone network (PSTN), or on PSTN-PSTN traffic that is
incidental thereto. This is WC Docket No. 03-266. See,
notice [3 pages in PDF].
Deadline to submit comments to the
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in response
notice in the Federal Register requesting comments regarding a National Do
Not E-mail Registry. Section 9 of
S 877, the
"Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pormography and Marketing Act of
2003" (CAN-SPAM Act), requires the FTC to write a report to the Congress on
establishing a nationwide Do Not E-Mail Registry. It is due by June 16, 2004.
See, story titled "FTC Announces CAN-SPAM Act Rulemaking" in TLJ Daily E-Mail
Alert No. 855, March 15, 2004. The notice is published in the Federal
Register, March 11, 2004, Vol. 69, No. 48, at Pages 11775-11782. See also, FTC
|Evans Opposes Isolationist Response to
3/24. Secretary of Commerce
testified before a House Commerce
Committee hearing titled "The State of U.S. Industry". He argued that
isolationism is not the appropriate policy response to the outsourcing of jobs to
other countries. He also addressed federal research and development spending,
protection of intellectual property rights, piracy in the PR China, extending the internet tax
moratorium, voice of internet protocol, broadband over powerline, and other
technology related issues.
Evans (at right) wrote in his
prepared testimony that "New foreign investments occur regularly, although they
do not seem to attract the attention devoted to investment offshore. But foreign
investments made here are creating many times more jobs than are being offshored
from the United States."
He continued that "jobs are at risk if this country begins to engage in the
isolationism that would cause us to close down global labor markets. America
cannot turn back from a global marketplace of goods and services. Engagement
with the world adds jobs and growth, while a policy of economic isolation
"It is important to have the facts: according to the Bureau of Labor
Statistics, only one percent of job losses in large layoffs are associated with
overseas relocation, with another two percent due to import competition", said
Evans. "IBM, for example, recently won a contract from Nokia, the Finnish
telecommunications company, worth over $5 billion. Alone, this contract equals
almost one-third of the entire Indian information technology software and
services industry in 2003."
Research and Development Spending. Evans also addressed R&D spending.
"We will spend a record $126 billion on federal R&D this year, and the
President has proposed $132 billion next year."
He added that "the Administration continues to support the
unique capabilities of national
labs and universities, including establishing cooperative research programs for
the benefit of small and medium-sized businesses. In addition, this
Administration is promoting the process of manufacturing technology transfer to
ensure that the benefits of R&D are diffused broadly throughout the
manufacturing sector, particularly to small and medium-sized enterprises."
Intellectual Property and Piracy. Evans wrote that "Business
leaders emphasize the importance of adequately and effectively
protecting intellectual property rights, and the corrosive effect of the failure
of some of our trading partners to enforce these rights. Intellectual property
protection is essential in ensuring the virtuous cycle of innovation that raises
our productivity and meets the needs of consumers around the world. That is why
the Department of Commerce continues to strengthen the Patent and Trademark
Office, enhancing intellectual property protection and increasing the
availability of new products and services."
He also focused on IPR theft in the People's Republic of China. He stated
that "Nothing hurts innovation like having your ideas stolen from you. We are
working hard to make sure that does not happen. The World Trade Organization (WTO)
has agreements barring the theft of intellectual property. Piracy by foreign
businesses, particularly in China, for example, is a chronic problem for many
American firms. Last fall, I led a mission to China and highlighted China's lack
of IPR enforcement. I met with high-ranking Chinese officials and reiterated our
continuing concern; that effective IPR protection requires that criminal
penalties for intellectual property theft and fines are large enough to be a
deterrent rather than a business expense."
"I believe in the strong enforcement of our trade laws, especially
intellectual property protection, and we are taking proactive measures to combat
piracy. I have tasked Commerce agencies, such as the Patent and Trademark Office
and the new Office of Investigations and Compliance, to coordinate their efforts
to vigorously pursue allegations of IPR violations wherever they occur,
especially in China."
Finally, he testified that "The Administration is committed to
exercising the legal remedies available
under the WTO and under U.S. law when clear violations occur. As a matter of
fact, the United States Trade Representative announced the filing of a case at
the WTO regarding China's discriminatory tax rebate policy for integrated
titled "US Complains to WTO About PR China's Tax Preference for Domestic
Producers of Integrated Circuits", March 18, 2004.)
Other Issues. He advocated passage of the Internet Non-Discrimination Act.
He stated that President Bush "urges the Congress to make the
moratorium permanent". (For a summary of this bill and related bills, see
titled "Sen. Alexander Introduces Bill Regarding Internet Tax Moratorium",
February 12, 2004.)
Evans stated that "The Administration also supports policies that
will ensure that Voice-over-Internet Protocol is also free from unnecessary
He also stated that "The Administration is working to ensure that
Broadband-over-Power Lines can be beneficially deployed as quickly as possible."
|About Tech Law Journal
|Tech Law Journal publishes a free access web site and
subscription e-mail alert. The basic rate for a subscription
to the TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert is $250 per year. However, there
are discounts for subscribers with multiple recipients. Free one
month trial subscriptions are available. Also, free
subscriptions are available for journalists,
federal elected officials, and employees of the Congress, courts, and
executive branch. The TLJ web site is
free access. However, copies of the TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert are not
published in the web site until one month after writing. See, subscription
Contact: 202-364-8882; E-mail.
P.O. Box 4851, Washington DC, 20008.
Copyright 1998 - 2004 David Carney, dba Tech Law Journal. All