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July 23, 2004, 9:00 AM ET, Alert No. 944.
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House Judiciary Committee Passes Family Movie Act

7/21. The House Judiciary Committee approved HR 4586, the "Family Movie Act of 2004" by a vote of 18-9. The vote broke down along party lines, with Republicans voting for the bill and Democrats voting against the bill. However, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), who represents a Silicon Valley district, voted for the bill.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the Chairman of the HJC's Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property (CIIP), introduced this bill on June 16, 2004.

This bill would permit home viewers of DVDs to use software that filters out certain types of content. Currently at issue is a filtering technology sold by ClearPlay.

Rep. Lamar SmithRep. Smith (at right) stated that "Parents have the right to decide what their children watch on screen in the privacy of their own home and the right to protect their children from sex, violence, and profanity in movies. Raising children may be the toughest job in the world. Parents need all the help they can get. Parents should be able to mute or skip over anything they want if they feel it's in the best interests of their children."

The CIIP Subcommittee held a hearing on June 17, 2004. Marybeth Peters, the Register of Copyrights, wrote in her prepared testimony [PDF] that "I do not believe that such legislation should be enacted -- and certainly not at this time. As you know, litigation addressing whether the manufacture and distribution of such software violates the copyright law and the Lanham Act is currently pending in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado. A summary judgment motion is pending. The court has not yet ruled on the merits. Nor has a preliminary injunction been issued -- or even sought. At the moment, providers of such software are free to sell it and consumers are free to use it. If the court ultimately rules that the making or distribution of the software is unlawful -- a ruling that I believe is unlikely -- the time may then be opportune to consider legislation. But meanwhile, there is every reason to believe that the proposed Family Movie Act is a solution to a problem that does not exist."

This case is Robert Huntsman, et al. v. Steven Soderbergh, et al., U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Colorado, D.C. No. 02-M-1662 (MJW).

The bill has yet to be passed by the Senate.

Senate Commerce Committee Approves Satellite Home Viewer Extension Bill

7/22. The Senate Commerce Committee approved S 2644, the "Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Rural Consumer Access to Digital Television Act of 2004".

The Committee approved an amendment in the nature of a substitute offered by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), who are also the sponsors of the bill, to shorten the phase-in period for existing two dish markets and establishing a satellite provider's ability to import distant signals.

In the House, there is HR 4501, the "Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act of 2004", sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) of the House Commerce Committee, and HR 4518, also titled the "Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act of 2004", sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) of the House Judiciary Committee. The Judiciary Committee approved this bill on July 7.

Senate Commerce Committee Approves Junk Fax Bill

7/22. The Senate Commerce Committee approved by voice vote S 2603, the "Junk Fax Prevention Act of 2004", without amendment.

This bill, which is sponsored by Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR), would amend 47 U.S.C. 227 to preserve the "established business relationship" exception to the general ban on unsolicited faxes.

On June 24, the House Commerce Committee amended and approved its bill, HR 4600, the "Junk Fax Prevention Act of 2004". See, story titled "House Commerce Committee Approves Junk Fax Bill" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 927, June 28, 2004. On June 20, the full House passed HR 4600 by voice vote. See, story titled "" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 942, July 21, 2004.

Rep. Greenwood Will Not Seek Re-election

7/22. Rep. James Greenwood (R-PA) announced that he will not run for re-election. He further announced that he will become the President of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), effective on January 5, 2005. He is a senior member of the House Commerce Committee, and the Chairman of its Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. See, statement by Rep. Greenwood.

Rep. Greenwood will replace Carl Feldbaum, who has been in charge of the BIO since 1993.

Rep. James GreenwoodIn addition, the BIO issued a release that provides a heart wrenching explanation from Rep. Greenwood (at right) for his switch. He stated that "had virtually any other organization approached me, I would have politely declined to interview. However, I passionately believe in the promise of biotechnology to find cures and treatments for the diseases that force parents to watch their children suffer and die, and children to endure their parents disintegration into the clutches of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases ... the research and the science that BIO's members represent hold so much potential: regenerative medicine to enable us to repair our organs and spinal cords, biotech crops and foods which can help feed the hungry, and biofuels to help save the environment."

Rep. Greenwood's departure may have policy consequences in two information technology areas. First, as Subcommittee Chairman, he presided over an investigation of fraud in the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) e-rate subsidy program. Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA), who was the full Committee Chairman until February of this year, was also active on this issue. Under their leadership, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations has pursued e-rate fraud more aggressively that the Senate Commerce Committee, the FCC, and most of the entities receiving e-rate subsidies.

At a hearing on July 22 of the Subcommittee regarding fraud at the San Francisco School District, Rep. Greenwood and Rep. Tauzin were absent. The Vice Chairman, Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) presided, and the new full Committee Chairman, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), participated. However, based on the statements and questions of Rep. Walden and Rep. Barton at the July 22 hearing, they intend to pursue e-rate fraud, and fraud related legislation, as enthusiastically as did Rep. Greenwood and Rep. Tauzin.

Rep. Greenwood is also currently the leading proponent on the House Commerce Committee of legislation to create a new federal intellectual property right to incent the development and maintenance of electronic databases. In the current Congress, he is a cosponsor of HR 3261, the "Database and Collections of Information Misappropriation Act'". Rep. Tauzin is another cosponsor. In contrast, Rep. Barton does not share their views on protecting databases.

People and Appointments

Ben Wu7/22. The Senate Commerce Committee approved the nomination of Benjamin Wu (at right) to be Assistant Secretary for Technology Policy for the Department of Commerce.

7/22. The Senate Commerce Committee approved the nomination of Brett Palmer to be Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Department of Commerce.

7/22. The Senate rejected a motion to invoke cloture on the nomination of David McKeague to be a Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit by a vote of 53-44. See, Roll Call No. 162. A three fifths majority is required to pass a cloture motion. Cloture motions cut off a filibuster. It was almost a straight party line vote, with Republicans and Sen. Zell Miller (D-GA) and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) voting in favor, and Democrats voting against. President Bush stated after the vote that "These filibuster tactics are shameful and inconsistent with the Senate's constitutional obligation." He added that "the use of this obstructionist tactic by some Democrats has become commonplace. With today's action, ten appeals court nominees have now been filibustered." See, statement by Bush.

7/22. The Senate rejected a motion to invoke cloture on the nomination of Richard Griffin to be a Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit by a vote of 54-44. See, Roll Call No. 161.

7/22. The Senate rejected a motion to invoke cloture on the nomination of Henry Saad to be a Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit by a vote of 52-46. See, Roll Call No. 160. See also, floor statement by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) in support of Saad, Griffin and McKeague, and statement by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) in opposition to the three nominees.

7/22. President Bush announced his intent to nominate Gregory Jenner to be an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Tax Policy. He is now a Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy. Before that, he was a partner in the Tax and Legislative Groups of the law firm of Venable Baetjer. And before that, he worked for the Treasury Department and the Senate Finance Committee. See, White House release.

7/21. Intel Corporation named Bruce Sewell General Counsel, effective November 1, 2004. He will replace Thomas Dunlap. See, Intel release.

More News

7/21. The House Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census held a hearing titled "Where's the CIO? The Role, Responsibility and Challenge for Federal Chief Information Officers in IT Investment Oversight and Information Management". See, report [68 pages in PDF] of the General Accounting Office (GAO) titled "Federal Chief Information Officers: Responsibilities, Reporting Relationships, Tenure, and Challenges"; prepared testimony [20 pages in PDF] of David Powner of the GAO titled "Information and Technology Management: Responsibilities, Reporting Relationships, Tenure, and Challenges of Agency Chief Information Officers"; and prepared testimony of Ira Hobbs (CIO of the Department of the Treasury).

7/21. The U.S. Court of Appeals (11thCir) issued its opinion [28 pages in PDF] in Peat v. Vanguard Research, a trade secrets case involving plasma energy systems. This is a diversity case to which the court applied the law of state in which the case arose, the Alabama Trade Secrets Act, which is codified at ALA. CODE 8-27-1, et seq. The District Court found that Vanguard breached its contract with Peat and appropriated Peat's trade secrets, and awarded compensatory damages on both claims. The District Court reduced the jury's punitive damages award on the trade secrets claim. The Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part. It granted a new trial on the trade secrets claim based upon the erroneous admission of evidence by the District Court. This case is Peat, Inc. v. Vanguard Research, Inc., U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, App. Ct. No. 03-11565, an appeal from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, D.C. No. 99-02553-CV-BE-NE.

7/20. The U.S. Court of Appeals (4thCir) issued its opinion [11 pages in PDF] in Humanoids v. Rogan, affirming the District Court's holding that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) may reject an application to register a trademark because the application contains multiple marks. This case is Humanoids Group v. James Rogan, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, App. Ct. No. 03-1896, an appeal from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, at Alexandria, Judge James Cacheris presiding, D.C. No. CA-02-1419.

House Passes US Morocco FTA Bill

7/22. The House passed HR 4842, the "United States-Morocco Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act", by a vote of 323-99. See, Roll Call No. 413. Most of the votes against the bill were cast by Democrats.

On Wednesday, July 21, the Senate passed its version of the bill, S 2677, also titled the "United States-Morocco Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act", by a vote of 85-13. See, Roll Call No. 159. See also, story titled "US Morocco FTA Bill Moves in Congress" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 943, July 22, 2004.

Washington Tech Calendar
New items are highlighted in red.
Friday, July 23

The House may meet at 9:00 AM. See, Republican Whip Notice.

10:00 AM. The House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law will hold a hearing titled "Regulatory Aspects of Voice Over the Internet Protocol (VoIP)". The hearing will be webcast. Press contacts: Press contact: Jeff Lungren or Terry Shawn at 202 225-2492. Location: Room 2141, Rayburn Building.

12:00 NOON. Hewitt Pate, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Antitrust Division, and Timothy Muris, Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), will hold a press conference to release a joint DOJ/FTC report titled "Improving Health Care: A Dose of Competition". The DOJ notice also states that "Reporters unable to attend the event may call in. The call-in information is as follows: Dial-in number: 1-800-720-5850. Confirmation number: 25271466. Chairperson: Bruce Jennings. The call-in lines, which are for press only, will open at 11:45 a.m." Location: Room 432, FTC, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW.

12:30 PM. The Cato Institute will host a panel discussion titled "The Case for CAFTA: Promoting Freedom in our Neighborhood". The speakers will be Dan Griswold (Cato) and Mario Canahuati (Ambassador from Honduras). See, notice and registration page. Lunch will be served. Location: Room B-354, Rayburn Building.

Deadline to submit comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response to its notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) regarding a national one call notification system. The FCC adopted this NPRM on May 13, 2004, and released the text [34 pages in PDF] on May 14, 2004. See, story titled "FCC Adopts NPRM Regarding One Call Notification System" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 899, May 17, 2004. This NPRM is FCC 04-111 in CC Docket No. 92-105. See, notice in the Federal Register, June 8, 2004, Vol. 69, No. 110, at Pages 31930 - 31939.

Deadline to submit comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response to its Notice of Inquiry (NOI) [30 pages in PDF] regarding its annual report to the Congress on the status of competition in the market for the delivery of video programming. See also, story titled "FCC Adopts NOI For Annual Report to Congress on Video Programming" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 916, June 11, 2004. This NOI is FCC 04-136 in MB Docket No. 04-227. See also, notice in the Federal Register, July 1, 2004, Vol. 69, No. 126, at Pages 39930 - 39933.

Monday, July 26

The House and Senate tentatively will not meet from July 26 through September 6.

The Democratic National Convention will be held in Boston, Massachusetts on July 26 through July 30.

Deadline to submit comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response to its notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) regarding the reporting requirements for U.S. providers of international telecommunications services. This NPRM is FCC 04-70 in IB Docket No. 04-112. See, notice in the Federal Register, May 25, 2004, Vol. 69, No. 101, at Pages 29676 - 29681.

Wednesday, July 28

9:00 AM - 1:30 PM. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will hold a public meeting on Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6). Location: Room 4830, Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue, NW. See, NTIA notice July 20, 2004, and notice in the Federal Register, July 15, 2004, Vol. 69, No. 135, at Page 42422.

10:00 AM - 3:00 PM. The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Technological Advisory Council will meet. See, FCC notice [PDF] and notice in the Federal Register, July 6, 2004, Vol. 69, No. 128, at Pages 40638. Location: FCC, 445 12th St., SW., Room TW-C305.

2:00 - 4:00 PM. There will be a meeting of the WRC-07 Advisory Committee, Informal Working Group 3: IMT-2000 and 2.5 GHz Sharing Issues. See, FCC notice [PDF]. Location: FCC, 445 12th Street, SW, Room 7-B516 (South Conference Room 7th Floor), Washington DC.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Auction No. 56 is scheduled to begin. This pertains to licenses in the 24 GHz Service in the 24.25-24.45 GHz and 25.05-25.25 GHz bands. See, notice in the Federal Register, April 20, 2004, Vol. 69, No. 76, at Pages 21099 - 21110.

Deadline to submit nominations to the Department of Commerce for consideration for the 2005 Medal of Technology awards. See, notice.

Deadline to submit comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response to its notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) regarding unlicensed use of the 3650-3700 MHz band. The FCC adopted this NPRM on April 15, 2004. This item is FCC 04-100 in ET Docket Nos. 04-151, 02-380 and 98-237. See, notice in the Federal Register, May 14, 2004, Vol. 69, No. 94, at Pages 26790 - 26803. See also, story titled "FCC Announces NPRM Regarding Unlicensed Use in the 3650-3700 MHz Band" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 878, April 16, 2004.

Deadline to submit reply comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response to its notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) regarding changes to the FCC Form 477 local competition and broadband data gathering program. This NPRM is FCC 04-81 in WC Docket No. 04-141. See, notice in the Federal Register, May 27, 2004, Vol. 69, No. 103, at Pages 30252 - 30277.

Thursday, July 29

9:00 AM - 4:30 PM. The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Media Bureau will sponsor a symposium titled "A La Carte MVPD Pricing". Location: FCC, 445 12th Street, SW, Room TW-C305 (Commission Meeting Room).

9:00 AM - 4:30 PM. The National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) Judges Panel of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award will hold a partially closed meeting. See, notice in the Federal Register, June 28, 2004, Vol. 69, No. 123, at Pages 36063 - 36064. Location: 222, Red Training Room, Gaithersburg, MD.

Extended deadline to submit comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding its proceeding titled "In the Matter of Review of the Commission's Broadcast and Cable Equal Employment Opportunity Rules and Policies". This is MM Docket No. 98-204. See, notice of extension [PDF].

Friday, July 30

9:30 AM - 1:00 PM. The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Internet Policy Working Group (IPWG) will host an event that it describes as "a roundtable discussion to address international issues associated with the migration of communications services and applications to IP-based technologies". See, FCC notice [PDF]. Location: FCC, 445 12th Street, SW, Commission Meeting Room.

Extended deadline to submit reply comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response to its Public Notice (DA 04-1454) regarding a la carte and themed programming and pricing options for programming distribution on cable TV and direct broadcast satellite systems. This is MB Docket No. 04-207. See, notice of extension [PDF].

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