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Experts Debate Need for New Digital Copyright Law

WASHINGTON, July 2, 2010 – The Digital Millennium Copyright Act that extended the reach of copyright when it became law in 1998 may have been created for the new millennium, just not this one, said an academic expert during a Thursday panel discussion.

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WASHINGTON, July 2, 2010 – The Digital Millennium Copyright Act that extended the reach of copyright when it became law in 1998 may have been created for the new millennium, just not this one, said an academic expert during a Thursday panel discussion.

Peter Menell of the University of California Berkeley School of Law said the topic had become “a very complex puzzle” because it has affected so many groups, such as content creators, publishing and distributing companies, consumers and the technology innovation sector.

He participated in the first panel of the Patent and Trademark Office and National Telecommunications and Information Administration Symposium, which focused on copyright policy, creativity and innovation in the information economy and the impact of domestic online copyright infringement.

Joshua Friedlander of the Recording Industry Association of America said for teens and college students, one third of their music comes from peer-to-peer file sharing.

Twenty-six million people have tried file sharing, according to Friedlander, and because of the technology’s prevalence and use, music industry sales are down more than 50 percent.

Friedlander said numerous studies point directly to internet piracy for this decline, and even when legal internet sales do occur, they do not offset the losses in physical sales.

Piotr Stryszowski of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said consumers like free content, and that they will get it where they can.

Menell agreed, adding that consumers accept the dilution of programming by advertising because they can get the content for free.

Menell said this leads to a symbiotic relationship by all of those affected by piracy. Content creators work with distributors to find new outlets to provide consumers with content with a reasonable return for them. Hardware and software innovators find ways to work with the created content for the best consumer experience.

Consumers need to realize that the money they pay for content ultimately leads to better content because of the reinvestment of that capital, he said.

The stipulation Mennell put on this relationship is that government policy – like a new DMCA – should guide innovators to keep their innovations legal, and shepherd them away from piracy.

“We’re seeing an evolution in this sector,” said Menell.

However, when innovators see “policy” or “legal” they immediately think “stifling innovation.” However, Menell said this sort of thing happens all the time, and is in fact good for the industry.

“We chill innovation in automobiles all the time because we not only care about speed, but also about the safety,” countered Menell.

Friedlander said the way to regulate piracy is through a comprehensive review of data. But Stryszowski said that data is not currently available.

Data is hard to find and, for many countries and areas of piracy, there is no data, said Stryszowski.
Besides gathering data, how do you compare it, Stryszowski asked. Do you measure theft in megabytes, number of files, dollars lost or jobs lost?

The data must be in real-time because in this rapidly changing area, using numbers from 2009 will not accurately regulate problems in 2010, he said, adding that finding an accurate methodology and measure is essential to the success of new regulation.

“In my opinion, we have to focus on specific aspects,” said Stryszowski, adding that the problem must be tackled from a different perspective.

AT&T legal counsel Keith Epstein said finding this new measure is essential to internet service providers because about 18.7 petabytes of traffic passed through the AT&T combined data network in 2009, and about 9.7 petabytes of this solely through AT&T.

Epstein said Congress – in the DMCA – did not want internet service providers to have the burden of deciding whether a customer’s activity was infringement; that the role of ISPs was to facilitate the content producer in legal matters by providing information and guiding them upon request.

However, Epstein said file sharing, as a percentage of overall internet growth, is declining. While he said this might be due to new technologies and cyber lockers, the use is declining for any number of reasons. But it is precisely because of technologies like cyber lockers and file sharing that Friedlander urges swift action. He said even though there has been a decline in illegal peer-to-peer sharing there has been a rise in other forms of piracy.

Statistics do not support the theory that musicians and artists have been able to make a living despite internet piracy, according to Friedlander.

Even though, since 2004, there has been over $7 billion in internet music sales, this is a drop in an empty bucket, according to Friedlander.

“There can be a lot of frustration when we see a lot of data … but we cant let this be an excuse” to forgo policy, he said.

“The answers are very complicated because this is one of the most complicated ecosystem,” Menell added.

Broadband's Impact

Dianne Crocker: Recession Fears Have Real Estate Market Forecasters Hitting the Reset Button

Growing fears of recession trigger pullback on previous rosy forecasts.

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The author of this Expert Opinion is Dianne Crocker, Principal Analyst for LightBox

The lyrics to “Same As It Ever Was” by the Talking Heads certainly don’t apply to how 2022 is playing out in the commercial real estate market. Two quarters of negative economic growth has put a damper on market sentiment and triggered fears that the U.S. economy is heading for a recession. By midyear, market analysts were taking a good, hard look at their rosy forecasts from the start of the New Year and redrawing the lines.

Once upon a time…

At the start of 2022, forecasters were bullishly predicting that commercial real estate investment and lending levels would be nearly as good as 2021. This was significant, considering that 2021 set new records for deal-making and lending volume as the debt and equity capital amassed during the pandemic while looking for a home in U.S. commercial real estate.

What a difference a few quarters have made. Virtually, all the predictions that started the New Year were obsolete by mid-summer. The abrupt shift in market conditions is palpable and surprised just about everyone. Now, markets are reaching an inflection point that is in sharp contrast with the strong rebound of last year.

The two I’s: Inflation and interest rates

At the core of the recent upset in market sentiment is the persistence of high inflation, which seems to be ignoring all attempts by the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates and bring prices down. Higher inflation is having a ripple effect throughout the economy, pushing up the costs of construction materials, energy, and consumer goods. Among the notable economic indicators showing stress at mid-year was the GDP, which fell for the second consecutive quarter, and the Consumer Price Index, which jumped 9.1% year-over-year in June – the highest increase in about four decades.

In July, the CPI fell to 8.5%, an encouraging sign that inflation was beginning to stabilize. By the latest August report from LightBox, however, hopes were dashed when the CPI showed little improvement, holding firm at a still high of 8.3%.

The market is responding to a higher cost of capital as lenders tap the brakes. As the cost of capital rises with each interest rate hike and concerns of a recession intensify, many large U.S. financial institutions are pulling back on their loan originations for the rest of 2022 and into 2023. This change in tenor is a significant shift, given that 2021 was a record-breaking year for commercial real estate lending. Many lenders have already shifted to a more defensive underwriting position as they look to mitigate risks.

The Mortgage Bankers Association, which had previously predicted that lending levels in 2022 would break the $1 trillion mark for the first time revised their forecast downward in mid-July. By year-end, the MBA now expects volume to be a significant 18% below 2021 levels—and one-third lower than the bullish forecast made in February. Now, investment activity is cooling as higher borrowing costs drive some buyers from the market.

In the investment world, transactions were down by 29% at midyear due to a thinning buyer pool as higher rates impact access to debt capital. Market volatility is causing investors, lenders, and owners to rethink strategies, reconsider assumptions, and prepare for possible disruption.

Looking ahead to year-end and 2023

The rapid and diverse shifts in the market make for an uncertain forecast and certainly a more cautious investment environment. The battle between inflation and interest rates will continue over the near term. As LightBox’s investor, lender, valuation, and environmental due diligence clients move toward the 4th quarter—typically the busiest quarter of the year–unprecedented volatility is driving them to recalibrate and reforecast given recent market developments.

Continued softness in transaction volume is likely to continue as rates and valuations establish a new equilibrium. If property prices begin to level out, there will be more pressure on buyers to consider how to improve a property to get their return on investment. The next chapter of the commercial real estate market will be defined by how long inflation sticks around, how high interest rates go, and whether the economy slips into a recession (and how deeply). The greatest areas of opportunity will be found in asset classes like office and retail that are evolving away from traditional uses and morphing to meet the needs of today’s market. Until barometers stabilize, it’s important to rethink assumptions, watch developments, and recalibrate as necessary.

Dianne Crocker is the Principal Analyst for LightBox, delivering strategic analytics, best practices in risk management, market intelligence reports, educational seminars, and customized research for stakeholders in commercial real estate deals. She is a highly respected expert on commercial real estate market trends. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to commentary@breakfast.media. The views reflected in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

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Digital Inclusion

White House Presses Outreach Initiatives for Affordable Connectivity Program

White House officials urged schools and other local institutions to engage in text-message and social media campaigns for the ACP.

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Photo of President Joe Biden, obtained from Wikimedia.

WASHINGTON, September 15, 2022 – The White House on Monday urged schools and other local institutions to engage in text-message and social media campaigns, PSAs, and other community-outreach initiatives to promote enrollment in the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program among of families with school-age children.

The Affordable Connectivity Program subsidizes internet service bill for low-income households. Monthly discounts of up to $30 are available for non-tribal enrollees, $75 for applicants on qualifying tribal lands. In addition, the ACP offers enrollees a one-time discount $100 on qualifying device purchases.

To boost ACP enrollment, speakers encouraged schools to reach out directly to families. Bharat Ramanurti, deputy director of the National Economic Council, said text-message campaigns drive up enrollment in government programs. A Massachusetts text-message campaign doubled ACP enrollment rates in subsequent days, said Ramanurti.

Also highlighted was the administration’s “ACP Consumer Outreach Kit,” which provides partners with resources, including fliers, posters, audio PSAs, social-media templates.

In fact, many of these tactics have proved effective in increasing ACP enrollment among telehealth patients. In addition, Microsoft and Communications Workers of America recently announced a circuit of ACP sign-up drives in that will tour several states including Michigan, New York, and North Carolina.

Political considerations as November nears…

As students go back to school and midterm elections loom, new ACP sign-ups could benefit the enrollees as well as the Democrats’ political chances.

Public officials and private experts alike recognize the value of community involvement in extending broadband connectivity and digital literacy nationwide. Marshaling community institutions – like schools – to maximize broadband access could help Biden and other Democrats overcome inflation-driven electoral headwinds in the November midterms. The White House obtained commitments from 20 providers to offer high-speed internet plans for $30 per month or less to ACP-eligible households – this means no out-of-pocket costs for recipients of ACP discounts. Free broadband coverage could bring the administration – and all Democrat candidates, by extension – back into the good graces of low-income families.

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Digital Inclusion

Federal Government Must Collect More Granular Data on Minorities to Aid in Initiatives

Discussion on the “data gap” comes as the nation tries to connect the unserved and underserved.

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Screenshot of Denice Ross, the White House's chief data scientist

WASHINGTON, August 31, 2022 – In order to serve the needs of all Americans, the federal government must gather and act on more granular data on underrepresented minority groups that have been historically overlooked in the data-gathering process, said Denice Ross, the White House’s chief data scientist.

Ross argued at an online event hosted by the Center for Data Innovation on Tuesday that many minority groups – including African Americans, Native Americans, the disabled, and the LGBT community – are disadvantaged by the “data divide,” a term which refers to disparities in the amount and quality of available data on various groups.

Ross was citing a report issued earlier this year by the Equitable Data Working Group, a task force created by President Joe Biden earlier this year, which said policymakers are often unable to perceive or ameliorate problems facing minority communities if data on those communities are unavailable or insufficiently disaggregated. Disaggregated data, the report says, is “data that can be broken down and analyzed by race, ethnicity, gender, disability, income, veteran status, age, or other key demographic variables.”

The report recommends a federal data collection strategy that safeguards privacy and facilitates analysis of “the interconnectedness of identities and experiences,” or how individuals’ various minority-group identities compound the societal disadvantages they face. The report also advocates the creation of “incentives and pathways” promoting minority representation in the data collection process.

The recommendations come as the broadband industry and federal agencies try to improve knowledge of where there are unserved and underserved areas for broadband connectivity and to take action to improve digital literacy. The Illinois Broadband Lab and other state broadband offices, for example, implement a community-up approach to data gathering. Direct community involvement provides data insights that help states deliver coverage to in-need communities, officials say. 

In the panel discussion that followed Ross’s opening remarks, experts and academics agreed that community outreach is a necessary step in closing the data divide. Dominique Harrison, director of bank Citi Ventures’ Racial Equity Design and Data Initiative, said that some in the African American community view data collection with skepticism.  

Christopher Wood, executive director of LGBT Tech, argued that the passage of a federal privacy standard is a critical step toward establishing trust in government data collection. The most recent attempt to pass a national privacy regime, the American Data Privacy and Protection Act, was approved by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce last month.

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