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Copyright Alliance Picks Time Warner Lawyer To Head Up Its Lobbying Efforts

in Copyright by
The Copyright Alliance's New Executive Director Sandra Aistars

The Copyright Alliance on Monday named Sandra Aistars as its executive director. Aistars succeeds the group’s Founder Patrick Ross, a well-respected Washington, D.C. technology journalist who left earlier this year to return to writing.

Aistars is currently a vice president and associate general counsel at Time Warner, which is a board member of the educational outreach  group. She’s held that position for the past seven years.

In its press statement on her selection, the Copyright Alliance noted Aistars’ management, communications and leadership skills, and her background in addressing distribution issues across different kinds of digital media platforms.

Aistars has also worked with policymakers both domestically and internationally, and served as an industry trade advisor to the Department of Commerce on international trade issues.

“Despite my own regrettable lack of artistic talent, my life has been enriched by a host of incredibly gifted creators who have given me a great appreciation for the creative process and a recognition of its importance in our culture,” Aistars said in a press statement.

Family members include an opera singer, authors and painters.

The Copyright Alliance is a membership group that represents corporate content creators. Its corporate members include AT&T, Time Warner, Viacom, NBC Universal, the Motion Picture Association of America,  and Walt Disney, as well as many associations from the worlds of photography, illustration, publishing, software and music.

From the Department of Bogus Statistics: Measuring the Impact of Piracy and Fair Use

in Intellectual Property/International/Patents/Trademarks/Transparency by

SAN FRANCISCO, April 29, 2010 – Measuring the impact of the U.S. legal doctrine of “fair use,” which enables online activities such as search, limited copying, sharing, ripping, mixing and burning might seem impossible, but not to the Computer & Communications Industry Association.

Windows XP, The Pirated Edition, by Jurvetson.

The trade group released a study this week saying it measured the “Economic Contribution of Industries Relying on Fair Use.” CCIA members include AMD, eBay, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Oracle, among others.

The D.C.-based economic consultants Capital Trade, which conducted the study on behalf of CCIA, asserted that: “In 2007, fair-use industries generated revenue of $4.7 trillion, a 35 percent increase over 2002 revenue of $3.4 trillion.”

The tally rightfully should include every company that maintains an informative web page, owns and uses a photocopier and fax machine, and whose staff uses the internet to communicate and perform basic research tasks. However, the CCIA lists specific industries in an exhaustive appendix in order to demonstrate how important the amorphous and context-specific legal doctrine is to fostering the growth of key parts of the economy. The industries it lists include everything from equipment manufacturers and software publishers to the financial services industry.

The Copyright Alliance, a consortium of associations and companies that represents composers, authors, publishers and the entertainment industry, was quick to issue a measured response the very same day that called the study “muddled.”

“It is not helpful to policymakers or the public to pronounce sweeping arguments that defy logic,” said Copyright Alliance Executive Director Patrick Ross. “In its report, CCIA identifies broad industries, suggests some entities in those industries occasionally engage in what some might call fair use, and then lumps all revenues and jobs in those industries into a newly coined ‘fair use’ industry.”

The issuance of the report is clearly an attempt by CCIA to reframe the discussion about digital copyrights beyond a binary discussion over piracy.

Historically, the debate over intellectual property in the U.S. Congress largely has been driven by numbers supplied by the entertainment and software industries, a practice that a government report recently called into doubt. Legislators have generally called for increasingly punitive measures against copyright violations, citing industry piracy statistics.

Government Accountability Office’s report, released earlier this month, cast doubt over these statistics.

“While experts and literature we reviewed provided different examples of effects on the U.S. economy, most observed that despite significant efforts, it is difficult, if not impossible, to quantify the net effect of counterfeiting and piracy on the economy,” the authors of the GAO report wrote.

However clumsy the CCIA report is, it’s timely and raises an important concept as trade negotiators around the world haggle over the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which seeks to impose harsher penalties against “infringers” in signatory countries’ jurisdiction

Many of these countries don’t have a comparable fair-use doctrine, said Matthew Schruers, CCIA senior counsel for litigation and legislative affairs. He argues that this means that the basic mechanisms, such as search, that allow the web to function could land companies in trouble.

“Even if ACTA turns out to be consistent with U.S. law, it’s increasing penalties overseas without any concurrent increase in the limitations and exceptions that permit legal activity here in the U.S.,” he says. “Imagine if [companies that engage in] innovative activities that we see on the internet like search being subjected to statutory damages, but not being able to avail themselves of the defense that we have in the United States of fair use, it dramatically increases the prospect of liability.”

Content Groups Link Copyright Infringement to Net Neutrality Rules

in Copyright/Net Neutrality by

December 8, 2009 – The Songwriters Guild of America is the latest intellectual property-focused group weighing into the debate about whether the government should take steps to regulate internet access to support so-called Net neutrality principles. The group claims that the rules, which have been proposed by the Federal Communications Commission, would create a legal safe harbor for copyright invasion.

“While these rules require that all lawful uses be treated “in a non-discriminatory manner,” they ignore whether or not the usage is unlawful. The result is the property created and owned by songwriters like me is discriminated against,” songwriter Phil Galdston said in a statement.

The guild said the rules would “restrain Internet service providers from fighting illegal file sharing on their networks.”

Songwriter Gordon Chambers said 70 percent of the volume of traffic on broadband networks is peer to peer file sharing, and is generated by 5 percent of network users. Permitting a “small percentage of looters to control a majority of a network’s bandwidth for the purpose of theft, is unacceptable, let alone the proper subject for permanent protection,” he said.

The songwriters and the president of the Songwriters Guild of America recently testified before the New York City Council against a resolution that would express support for the FCC concept of Net neutrality.

The Songwriters Guild of America is not the only group representing those with an interest in protecting intellectual property that has voiced opposition against the net neutrality or open internet movement, which has been supported by the Obama Administration.

The Copyright Alliance said in September 2009 testimony (PDF) that “government promotion of broadband deployment must encourage meaningful distinctions between lawful and unlawful traffic.”

The group said it supported FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski when he said, “It is vital that illegal conduct be curtailed on the Internet. I do not interpret the goals of net neutrality as preventing network operators from taking reasonable steps to block unlawful content.”

In March of 2008 Motion Picture Association of America Chairman and CEO Dan Glickman said new tools are enabling intellectual property holders to work with internet service providers to prevent illegal activity but net neutrality efforts threaten this progress.

“It’s a clever name,” said Glickman, referring to Net neutrality. “But at the end of the day, there’s nothing neutral about this for our customers or for our ability to make great movies—blockbuster first-run films—in the future.

“If Washington had truth in labeling, we’d call this proposal by another name: Government regulation of the Internet. Government regulation of the Internet would impede our ability to respond to consumers in innovative ways, and it would impair the ability of broadband providers to address the serious and rampant piracy problems occurring over their networks today,” said Glickman.

Citizens Against Government Waste has also said Net neutrality would weaken intellectual property protections. “If an Internet service provider is required to allow all traffic to flow, that will include the illegal uploading and downloading of music, movies, books or any other protected intellectual property,” the group said in 2008.

Recording Industry Association of America CEO Mitch Bainwol said in testimony last year on proposed Net neutrality legislation that he would encourage “Internet service providers to work with the content community to adopt effective marketplace solutions to digital copyright theft — the root cause of any network congestion — but added that if voluntary agreements could not be reached, government action may be necessary.”

Editor’s Note: Broadband Census News is planning to hold a special event, “Net Neutrality, Copyright Protection, and the National Broadband Plan Town Hall Meeting,” on January 19, 2010, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. (program from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.), at Clyde’s of Gallery Place. To register for the event, which includes breakfast from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. To register, click here.

Broadband People Column: Victoria Espinel Confirmed For Top Intellectual Property Post

in Broadband's Impact/Copyright/Premium Content by

WASHINGTON, December 4, 2009 – The Senate has confirmed Victoria Espinel to be the first U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator.

Her job will be to craft the nation’s next intellectual property strategy. Though former President George Bush created the position of U.S. Coordinator for International Intellectual Property Enforcement and filled it with Chris Israel, the intellectual property czar has been elevated to a White House position under President Obama.

Espinel is a former U.S. Assistant Trade Representative and taught at George Mason University School of Law after leaving the USTR. Her confirmation was supported by the American Intellectual Property Law Association, Copyright Alliance, International Trademark Association, Public Knowledge, Motion Picture Association of America, National Music Publishers’ Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and others.

“A sound national IP Strategy will demonstrate to our domestic stakeholders as well as our trading partners that the U.S. is committed to the promotion of IP here in the U.S. and abroad,” said Mark Esper, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center, in a statement. According to the Chamber, American IP-intensive industries employ nearly 18 million workers and account for over $5 trillion of the U.S. gross domestic product. IP industries also comprise more than half of all U.S. exports, the Chamber holds.

In the portions of this article included as Premium Content, the Broadband People Colummn discussed new appointments at the Federal Trade Commission, the departure of a cable industry veteran, and new changes at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners

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Remembering A Cable Industry Pioneer

Cable television industry pioneer William Bresnan died November 27th at the age of 75 from complications of cancer “without ever once complaining,” according to a statement from the company, Bresnan Communications, he founded in 1984.

“Throughout his career, Mr. Bresnan played a leadership role in the cable television industry. He did so formally through industry associations, having testified before the FCC and U.S. congressional committees on a wide range of communications and copyright issues. Known as one of the cable industry’s leading contributors to technological advancement, he played a major role in the development of the first domestic satellite transmission as well as the country’s first commercial fiber optic communications system. He was the recipient of virtually every award and recognition within the cable industry,” according to his company.

Bresnan began his cable career in 1958 when at the age of 25 he designed and built his first cable system. He latter worked for entrepreneur Jack Kent Cooke, the TelePrompTer Corporation, and Group W Cable. His company said Bresnan was best known for his spirit of generosity and for always trying to do the right thing. He was raised along with 3 siblings by a single mother.

FTC Announces New Staff

Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz announced this week the appointments of Cecelia Prewett as Director of the Office of Public Affairs, Jessica Rich and Charles Harwood as Deputy Directors in the Bureau of Consumer Protection, and Norm Armstrong, Jr. as Deputy Director in the Bureau of Competition.

Prewett joins the agency from the American Association for Justice, where she was vice president for strategic communications. She also served as a designated senior spokesperson for AARP and a senior communications manager for the State of Illinois. Prewett spent seven years working communications roles on Capitol Hill for seven years. She has a master’s degree in political management from The George Washington University.

Rich has previously worked on privacy, identity protection and financial issues for the FTC. She worked in private practice in New York City and is a graduate of New York University Law School and Harvard University. Harwood previously worked on antitrust and consumer protection issues for the FTC. He joined the FTC in 1989 after six years as a counsel to the Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. He is a graduate of Willamette University College of Law.

Leibowitz also announced the appointments of Joel Winston as Associate Director of the Division of Financial Practices in the Bureau of Consumer Protection, Maneesha Mithal as Associate Director of the Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, and Mark Eichorn as Assistant Director of the Division of Privacy and Identity Protection.

NARUC Names New Board Member

The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners President David Coen has appointed Philip Jones to serve on the association’s executive committee and board of directors.

Jones will fill the slot on the executive committee reserved for the Western Conference of Public Service Commissioners. He is replacing former NARUC President Marsha Smith of Idaho, whose term on the committee has expired.

Jones was appointed to the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission in early 2005. Prior to his commission appointment, he served as managing director of Cutter & Buck and was a senior legislative assistant to former Washington Sen. Daniel Evans.

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