The Grokster Decision: Senators Tell Tech. Industry To Do More To Curb Infringement

Update: The Committee has posted the video archive of the hearing (RealPlayer required) — skip ahead approx. 17 minutes to get to the start of the hearing.

Original post (7/28/2005): The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee held a hearing today on implications of the Supreme Court’s MGM vs. Grokster decision. The witnesses were (their testimony is linked to the names):

We haven’t had time to read through all the testimony, but that wasn’t the interesting part of the hearing. During the question and answer session, Senators came down hard on the technology industry — ISPs and P2P software providers. Mr. Eisgrau had floated the idea of a conference of all intersted parties to work out their issues — including a collective licensing system. That idea flopped with the Senators. Instead of a conference, they wanted action.

At one point, Senator Stevens, critical here because he is the Chairman of the Committee, seemed stunned when the ISPs asserted that they couldn’t identify specific copyrighted music files flowing over their networks (presumably to filter it). He analogized that it was similar to a piano player at a house of disrepute saying he didn’t know what was going on upstairs.

Senator after Senator (including Senator Boxer from California) were incredulous that the tech industry wasn’t doing more with the technology to curb infringement. The tech witnesses tried to make it clear what the technology could or couldn’t do and about active inducement vs. how the technology was designed, but across the board the Senators didn’t seem to care about that degree of nuance — they just wanted more done. Chairman Stevens concluded the hearing by saying that rarely do he and Senator Boxer agree, but on this point it was clear the technology industry must do more to curb piracy, and they will be watching.

We are hoping that the webcast will be archived, but if it isn’t we will post the transcript. It is going to be well worth a read to see where USACM needs to clarify the capabilities of technology. This clearly wasn’t a good “messaging” hearing for the technology industry.

Congress to Bolster Math & Science Programs

Update (7/29/05): Here is the final text of the math/science amendment that was adopted. The larger bill passed the House Education and Workforce Committee by a 27-20 vote. This provision will probably be somewhat contentious as the bill moves forward, not because of substance but because of the program it replaces. We would be curious what the community thinks about this provision and whether or not it will address the computer science education issues that are currently being debated (feel free to e-mail us comments). Ed Felten did a good post capturing the two pieces of this debate at a high level.
Continue reading “Congress to Bolster Math & Science Programs”

Congress to Bolster Math & Science Programs

Update (7/29/05): Here is the final text of the math/science amendment that was adopted. The larger bill passed the House Education and Workforce Committee by a 27-20 vote. This provision will probably be somewhat contentious as the bill moves forward, not because of substance but because of the program it replaces. We would be curious what the community thinks about this provision and whether or not it will address the computer science education issues that are currently being debated (feel free to e-mail us comments). Ed Felten did a good post capturing the two pieces of this debate at a high level.
Continue reading “Congress to Bolster Math & Science Programs”

Turing Award Winner Blasts Current State of Federal R&D Funding

Internet pioneer Vinton Cerf (who, along with Robert Kahn, won ACM’s 2004 Turing Award) and Information Technology Association of America President Harris Miller join the chorus of leaders expressing concern about the federal R&D enterprise in today’s Wall Street Journal (subscription required). They frame the argument very similar to those laid out by the joint information technology R&D coalition that the Computing Research Association (CRA) is leading (and USACM is part of):

“America will soon find its grip on the levers of international commerce slipping as we turn our backs on a proud tradition of technology innovation. The stewards of our national destiny are busily tightening the tap on the federal R&D budget, the most important source of funding for programs that seek to answer fundamental questions of science and technology.”

Continue reading “Turing Award Winner Blasts Current State of Federal R&D Funding”

Turing Award Winner Blasts Current State of Federal R&D Funding

Internet pioneer Vinton Cerf (who, along with Robert Kahn, won ACM’s 2004 Turing Award) and Information Technology Association of America President Harris Miller join the chorus of leaders expressing concern about the federal R&D enterprise in today’s Wall Street Journal (subscription required). They frame the argument very similar to those laid out by the joint information technology R&D coalition that the Computing Research Association (CRA) is leading (and USACM is part of):

“America will soon find its grip on the levers of international commerce slipping as we turn our backs on a proud tradition of technology innovation. The stewards of our national destiny are busily tightening the tap on the federal R&D budget, the most important source of funding for programs that seek to answer fundamental questions of science and technology.”

Continue reading “Turing Award Winner Blasts Current State of Federal R&D Funding”

Senate Commerce Committee joins the data security & privacy fray

Not to be outdone by other Congressional committees working to address the current data security and privacy crisis illustrated by this year’s numerous data breach disclosures and controversies, the Senate Commerce committee has decided to wade into the debate and is set to markup S. 1408 on Thursday. The bill, dubbed the Identity Theft Protection Act of 2005, is sponsored by Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) and enjoys the support of the committee leadership. Briefly, the bill includes — among other things — the following provisions:

(1) Calls on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to develop regulations to require “covered entities to develop, implement, and maintain an effective information security program,”

(2) Establishes a security breach notification requirement featuring a “reasonable risk” trigger,

(3) Spells out how consumers can “freeze” their credit reports,

(4) Prohibits the unnecessary solicitation and display of Social Security numbers (e.g., on ID cards or driver’s licenses),

(5) Calls on the FTC Chairman to create an “Information Security Working Group” composed of participants from industry, consumer groups, and other interested parties to develop best practices for handling sensitive information, and

(6) Preempts state and local laws regarding security breach notifications and security freezes.

Continue reading “Senate Commerce Committee joins the data security & privacy fray”

Senate Commerce Committee joins the data security & privacy fray

Not to be outdone by other Congressional committees working to address the current data security and privacy crisis illustrated by this year’s numerous data breach disclosures and controversies, the Senate Commerce committee has decided to wade into the debate and is set to markup S. 1408 on Thursday. The bill, dubbed the Identity Theft Protection Act of 2005, is sponsored by Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) and enjoys the support of the committee leadership. Briefly, the bill includes — among other things — the following provisions:

(1) Calls on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to develop regulations to require “covered entities to develop, implement, and maintain an effective information security program,”

(2) Establishes a security breach notification requirement featuring a “reasonable risk” trigger,

(3) Spells out how consumers can “freeze” their credit reports,

(4) Prohibits the unnecessary solicitation and display of Social Security numbers (e.g., on ID cards or driver’s licenses),

(5) Calls on the FTC Chairman to create an “Information Security Working Group” composed of participants from industry, consumer groups, and other interested parties to develop best practices for handling sensitive information, and

(6) Preempts state and local laws regarding security breach notifications and security freezes.

Continue reading “Senate Commerce Committee joins the data security & privacy fray”

Pentagon seeking new controls on foreign researchers’ access to sensitive tech

A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education [subscription req’d] points us to proposed rule changes from the Department of Defense that would create new restrictions on foreign researchers’ access to export-controlled technology:

The proposed rules would require foreign researchers to wear badges and would require laboratories to contain segregated work areas to control the scientists’ access to the technology.

College officials fear that the mandate, if instituted as currently drawn, would drastically curtail academic freedom in laboratories where such studies are performed and in fields of research where large numbers of the graduate students participating in studies are foreigners …

The Pentagon rules … would complement rules, proposed by the Commerce Department in March, that could have similar effects …

USACM recently filed comments with the Department of Commerce (DOC) on its proposed rule changes regarding deemed export controls. USACM’s primary concern is that the proposed changes could endanger innovation: Continue reading “Pentagon seeking new controls on foreign researchers’ access to sensitive tech”

Pentagon seeking new controls on foreign researchers' access to sensitive tech

A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education [subscription req’d] points us to proposed rule changes from the Department of Defense that would create new restrictions on foreign researchers’ access to export-controlled technology:

The proposed rules would require foreign researchers to wear badges and would require laboratories to contain segregated work areas to control the scientists’ access to the technology.

College officials fear that the mandate, if instituted as currently drawn, would drastically curtail academic freedom in laboratories where such studies are performed and in fields of research where large numbers of the graduate students participating in studies are foreigners …

The Pentagon rules … would complement rules, proposed by the Commerce Department in March, that could have similar effects …

USACM recently filed comments with the Department of Commerce (DOC) on its proposed rule changes regarding deemed export controls. USACM’s primary concern is that the proposed changes could endanger innovation: Continue reading “Pentagon seeking new controls on foreign researchers' access to sensitive tech”

The Grokster Decision: Lawyers Tussle Over Active Inducement’s Meaning

Earlier this week, the Congressional Internet Caucus held a good panel discussion about the implications of the MGM v. Grokster decision. (Here is the video — real, windows.) While the debate wades quite deep into the legal weeds at times, it is well worth a review. I’ve summarized a couple of the key points below.

As mentioned in our previous post, the Court created an active inducement standard for determining whether or not a company is liable for users using its product for copyright infringement. Panelists staked out their interpretation of what the Supreme Court said, and each one was clearly laying the groundwork for arguments in future litigation.
Continue reading “The Grokster Decision: Lawyers Tussle Over Active Inducement’s Meaning”