The Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (PITFA), receiving a large bi-partisan approval in the House of Representatives earlier this year, is supposedly going to be taken up in the Senate this week. The provision has been added into the conference report (the final version of a bill to be considered by both chambers of congress) of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015.
Author: Bartlett Cleland
In a situation only the out of touch, inside the Beltway crowd could love, added into the conference report (the final version of a bill to be considered by both chambers of congress) of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, is a provision adding the legislative language from H.R. 235, the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (PITFA), as widely approved by the House of Representatives earlier this year.
A growing number of people have begun to appreciate the damage done to small business and innovators by so called “patent trolls.” Some of the arguments about those who take advantage of the patent system have been conjecture, some no more than name calling, but much has been well grounded with empirical studies. A recent literature review of all the studies has brought into a clear bright light the damage of the marauding trolls.
“Mission creep” as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is “the gradual broadening of the original objectives of a mission or organization.” Mission creep as practiced by the Federal Communications Commission is wholesale bootstrapping to create any authority to reach to a goal of ever more regulation of innovation.
One of the more important hearings for the future of broadband took place last week in the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee. The Committee gathered to discuss “Breaking Down Barriers to Broadband Infrastructure Deployment.”
When the value of the Internet is threatened the entire ecosystem needs to respond. Success in the digital world is achievable when all parties understand that they cannot stand on their own, that in fact an economically thriving digital ecosystem requires good faith cooperation, within the bounds of the law, and with an eye towards what is best for the broader ecosystem.
Over the last several decades, trial lawyers have found increasingly “creative” ways to use the legal system to enable themselves to cart off huge portions of legal settlements for themselves. Some of these high profile abuses made headline news, such as the class action exploitations of the 1990s. But actually being required to take a case to court does come with expense, and wanting to enhance their riches trial lawyers have found some new legal system weaknesses to exploit for less out of pocket expense.
Earlier this year Cisco released its annual Visual Network Index (VNI) Forecast Report: Mobile Data Traffic Update, 2014-2019. The report makes clear that North America, mostly the United States, has been a global leader in mobile broadband development. Case in pont, North America had 39.1 percent of all global 4G connections in 2014 with projections showing that by 2019 North America’s share will increase to 42.1 percent.
Digital goods are those delivered completely electronically, such as music or videos, downloaded books or video games. Digital services, such as job searching or resume preparation and editing, are also delivered only electronically.
Once again the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act has been introduced in the House of Representatives, this time because the last temporary extension, passed in December, will expire on October 1. The bipartisan legislation bans taxes on Internet access permanently and disallows multiple or discriminatory taxes on Internet activities. If allowed to expire, states would begin to collect taxes on Internet access, or apply other discriminatory taxes that may already be in place in the state but which have been held at bay during the moratorium.
Recently Sony Pictures became the most recent victim of hackers. This hack captured American attention in ways that many previous hacks had not despite the seriousness of each of them largely because of the trove of private embarrassing emails, sensitive employee information such as salary negotiations and results, and intellectual property being made public. Attention was further driven by scandalous, sensationalist headlines…repeatedly. Tinsel Town lives in a bubble, disconnected from the rest of the country, much like Washington, DC, so when something goes awry in these places the national schadenfreude is wide spread. In this case, things went wrong in both places.
The Internet ecosystem just added a new tool to preserve the property of rights holders even while encouraging greater use of broadband. The Motion Picture Association has announced the launch of a new search engine called WheretoWatch.com.
Pundits largely agree that those who cast ballots last week had more or less one idea in mind – Washington is broken and must be fixed. So imagine the surprise that online customers will receive when Senators Reid and Durbin lead the just voted out Senate to massively expand government power in their last few days at the helm of Congress.
Recently two towns, Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the City of Wilson, North Carolina, have petitioned the federal government, via the FCC, complaining that state laws are constraining them from the municipal provision of broadband services, that is, from building a government owned network (GON). That is, these municipalities want to expend resources to build and operate broadband systems, without following any of regulations that govern private sector providers. To overcome the state’s rightful authority the city governments have proposed that the FCC preempt state law and empower municipalities in ways that upset the political structure of the U.S.
Earlier this year, the Obama administration asked ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) to create a means of overseeing the Internet after U.S. governance is scheduled to end in another year. The administration decided not to maintain the current U.S. minimum-oversight role.
The Digital Citizens Alliance recently released a report that is troubling if somewhat unsurprising. The report documents that intellectual property piracy continues, that it is big business and that cyberlockers play a substantial role in enabling the criminal activity.
According to data released this week, Samsung and Apple make up the majority of the top 20 global smartphone models sold in the first quarter of 2014. While that success demonstrates the robust market prowess of these smartphone manufacturers, the real winners are the customers, getting more services, better products and lower prices. Almost the exact opposite happens when companies resort to lawsuits to gain market advantage, a sort of rent seeking via the courts.
As announced yesterday, Aereo, a streaming broadcast TV company, was found to be violating copyrights on programming it was providing, given that the almost live broadcasts it made available represented a public performance of the content and hence was illegal under copyright law. In plain speak, Aereo’s entire business model was to take that which didn’t belong to it and sell it. Try selling access to your neighbor’s guest room on AirBnB, or taking your neighbor’s otherwise unused car to use for your own Uber sideline, and see how things work out.