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Congress Should Oppose H.R. 2666, the “No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act”

Today, the Center for Democracy & Technology joined other consumer rights and privacy advocates in sending a letter to the leadership of the House of Representatives opposing H.R. 2666, the “No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act.” This bill would strip the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of authority to review certain practices of broadband providers related to their customers’ privacy. Specifically, the FCC would have no power to inquire into broadband providers’ offers of discounts or other incentives in exchange for the ability to use or disclose customers’ personal information.

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CDT Comments to Copyright Office Focus on Preserving Balance and Cooperation in the DMCA

CDT and the R Street Institute filed comments in response to the Copyright Office’s Notice of Inquiry regarding Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Section 512 protects the conduits, websites, cloud storage providers, and search engines from statutory damages and other liability for copyright infringement based on works posted by users so long as service providers comply with certain requirements. CDT very much hopes that the Office does not lose sight of the importance of that flexibility and balance as it evaluates the many proposals for change it will receive.

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Needed Reforms to Section 1201 of the DMCA

The US Copyright Office accepted its first round of comments on Section 1201 of the DMCA. This provision imposes civil and possibly even criminal penalties on persons who circumvent “technological protections measures” that control access to copyrighted works. CDT hopes that any changes to Section 1201 can build on points of general agreement and arrive at a more stable, predictable, and permissive approach to circumvention for noninfringing purposes that do not implicate the copyright interests of rightsholders.

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A Hard Look at India’s Ban on Zero Rating

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) released its “Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulations,” effectively banning differential pricing arrangements (such as zero rating) for Internet access. The outcome is not altogether surprising, but the TRAI’s decision to ban all arrangements that either charge or have the effect of charging differential pricing on the basis of content seems under-explained and overbroad.

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Beyond the Elephants’ Graveyard: Recent Additions to the Public Domain

Like open licensing, a vibrant public domain can further equality, education, and access to information. It also can fuel intellectual curiosity. Fostering this vibrancy requires actively populating the public domain rather than just waiting for works to end up there. It also requires reassessment of basic assumptions behind copyright policy (such as equating “harmonization” with longer copyright terms). But the effort is worthwhile. After all, the public domain is a shared resource: we get out what we put in.

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Fair Use Gets a Legal Defense Fund and a Highlight Reel

YouTube today announced that it will provide legal indemnification for a handful of uploaded videos that are “best examples” of fair use, but nonetheless have been the subject of takedown notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The videos selected will be showcased on YouTube’s page devoted to fair use. Although only four videos have been selected thus far, this is a big deal. It demonstrates the importance of fair use in different contexts and the genuine concern of DMCA takedown misuse. YouTube’s actions also hint that Internet intermediaries might actually be competing on the ability to facilitate and protect user generated content creation.

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A Qualified Win for Cybersecurity Researchers in DMCA Triennial Rulemaking

Today, the Library of Congress released its final rule granting a number of three-year exemptions from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s prohibition against circumvention of technological measures controlling access to copyrighted works. Of particular note, the final rule grants an exemption for security research. CDT has focused on winning this exemption, arguing that the DMCA’s prohibition chills essential cybersecurity research and has little to do with copyright infringement. The granted exemption is an acknowledgment of the importance of security research and the unnecessary legal risks security researchers currently face under the DMCA.

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A 21st Century Copyright Office: Renovation Over Relocation

Today, the re:Create Coalition, of which the Center for Democracy & Technology is a member, sent a letter to Congress regarding Copyright Office modernization. As the letter notes, there is no consensus, even among re:Create members, of what it means to modernize the Copyright Office. In CDT’s view, the debate about moving the Office distracts us from more important questions around improving core functions of the Office.

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Preserving Openness as the Internet Evolves: CDT Joins Intervenors in Defending the FCC’s Open Internet Order

Yesterday, the Center for Democracy & Technology joined 24 startups, public interest organizations, venture capital firms, and other organizations in defending the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order, currently on appeal in the D.C. Circuit. The joint intervenors’ brief makes the point that this entire appeal boils down to one very simple issue: did the FCC have the authority to reclassify broadband as a Title II telecommunications service and do the facts on the ground justify that reclassification? The answer is a simple yes.

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