OVERNIGHT TECH: House panel to consider 'fair use'

THE LEDE: House members will hear arguments for and against current limitations on copyright protections at a hearing Tuesday.

The House Judiciary subcommittee on Intellectual Property hearing — which will start at 2 p.m. and be livestreamed on the committee’s site — will focus on the fair use doctrine, which sets out guidelines for unlicensed work of copyrighted material.

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The hearing is a part of the Judiciary Committee’s overarching look at copyright law, led by Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).

“The fair use section of copyright law is the most significant limitation on the exclusive rights of copyright owners, and is arguably the most cited section in copyright infringement cases,” Goodlatte said in a statement. “I look forward to hearing from all of tomorrow’s witnesses.”

Some of Tuesday’s witnesses — including Newspaper Association of America general counsel Kurt Wimmer and singer/songwriter David Lowery — will tell subcommittee members that the fair use doctrine is working as intended and should not be rewritten.

In his written testimony, Wimmer outlined the digital transition of the newspaper industry which presents new opportunities and challenges for the copyright-reliant industry. 

“Many online platforms, including those operated by newspaper companies, curate the content of others, which, if done with respect for the rights of copyright owners and in compliance with fair use, can be a benefit to readers,” he said.

June Besek, executive director of Columbia Law’s Kernochan Center for Law, Media and the Arts, will warn panel members of the “extraordinary” expansion of fair use, according to her written testimony.

“Fair use is not a carte blanche to make unlimited use of others’ work, even for a socially beneficial cause,” she wrote.

On the other side of the issue, author Naomi Novik will argue that Congress needs to strengthen the fair use doctrine, asking “in particular that Congress consider improving protections for fair users, especially individual artists, who are threatened with lawsuits or [Digital Millennium Copyright Act] takedowns.”

The tech industry will want to pay attention to how the committee regards fair use as it broadly considers copyright law.

“Fair use is the legal underpinning” of the innovation taking place in the U.S. tech industry, Michael Petricone, senior vice president of government and regulatory affairs at the Consumer Electronic Association, said.

Petricone — who will not be testifying Tuesday — pointed to examples of the fair use doctrine, including search engines and "The Daily Show’s" use of copyrighted programming.

“Fair use is essential to innovation” and “inherent in what you do every day,” he said.

Data Privacy Day: The annual day dedicated to digital privacy education will take place Tuesday, with tech companies, trade groups and privacy advocates taking up the common goal of increasing digital privacy. 

Mozilla is set to release a statement, echoing its calls for an online environment that evokes trust from users. The company will highlight its privacy-enhancing efforts, including calling for an end to sweeping surveillance and its work on Do Not Track, a tool to keep websites from tracking users.

“We know that the Web can empower people across classes, cultures and languages, and create unparalleled opportunities for economic prosperity,” the company is set to say in a statement. “But if people can’t trust what happens to their information and activity on the Web — whether on laptops, phones or other devices — they’ll be less inclined to engage with the Web at all, and go to great lengths to isolate their data.”

The Internet Society is planning to release guidelines for protecting digital privacy focused on “fragmenting” online sharing to silo information. In its “Tips for Minimizing Your Digital Footprint,” the group will suggest using different Internet browsers, passwords and email and financial accounts for different online activities.

Privacy groups — including the Center for Digital Democracy, the Electronic Privacy Information Center and Consumer Watchdog — will hold a Twitter privacy about consumer privacy online. The chat, starting at 2 p.m., can be followed at the hashtag #DPDchat.

Dems unveil IT procurement bill: Democratic Reps. Anna Eshoo (Calif.) and Gerry Connolly (Va.) introduced a draft bill on Monday to overhaul the way the government develops information technology systems. The Reforming Federal Procurement of Information Technology ACT would create a new office in the White House to review and guide major IT projects from the beginning. It would also try to allow more small businesses to bid for federal IT contracts.

The two lawmakers are the top Democrats on subcommittees that oversee technology and procurement policy. Citing statistics that most government IT projects come in over budget and behind schedule, Eshoo said that the current $80 billion IT budget “is an absolutely unacceptable waste of taxpayer dollars.”

“Our draft bill puts proven best practices to work by instituting a White House office of IT procurement and gives all American innovators a fair shake at competing for valuable federal IT contracts by lowering the burden of entry,” Eshoo concluded.

The government has for years had problems with federal IT projects. President Obama partly blamed the disastrous rollout of HealthCare.gov on the government’s flawed IT procurement system.

FTC, consumer bureau warn about hacks: The Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) both made efforts to warn consumers of data breaches at major retailers. The CFPB released a consumer advisory with steps people can take to ward off data theft, and the FTC shared a video about protecting themselves.

The releases come on the heels of new reports that the craft store chain Michaels had also been hit by hackers in recent weeks. On top of news that millions of shoppers may have had their data stolen from Target and Neiman Marcus, some have raised calls for new data security legislation to protect consumers.

Retail trade group to focus on cybersecurity: The Retail Industry Leaders Association is planning a new initiative to beef up cybersecurity and data protection. The group, which counts Apple, Target and Sears among its members, will push for federal laws outlining how businesses should protect their information and handle data breaches. It will also be pushing financial institutions to switch to new, more secure credit and debit card technology that requires a PIN and microchip.

 

ON TAP

The nonprofit Internet Education Foundation is holding the State of the Net conference at D.C.'s Newseum. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler will start things off with a discussion at 9:00 a.m., which will be followed by remarks from Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Mythili Raman, the acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s criminal division.

The House Oversight Committee is examining security flaws at HealthCare.gov on Tuesday morning.

President Obama will deliver his State of the Union address in the evening.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Privacy groups are calling on President Obama to address a 1986 law that allows law enforcement to access emails without a warrant.

The Obama administration on Monday said it would allow Internet companies like Google and Microsoft to disclose more information about the surveillance requests they receive from the government.

President Obama’s planned reforms to the National Security Agency (NSA) “will do serious damage to U.S. intelligence collection capabilities,” a think tank warned on Monday.

Drone makers are encouraging the Federal Aviation Administration to allow unmanned aircraft to fly over rural areas before a broader integration with commercial airplanes is completed. 

The U.S. government cannot force Verizon to turn over user data stored in foreign countries, the company said in a blog post Monday.

A bipartisan group of House members is criticizing President Obama for not going far enough in his attempts to rein in the country’s surveillance programs.

The recent federal court ruling overturning the Obama administration’s “net neutrality” rules will not radically change the market for Internet access, Republican Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Michael O’Rielly said Monday.

Documents released by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden show U.S. and British spy agencies have the ability to snoop on people through the apps they use.

Tech giants Google and Samsung have signed an agreement allowing the two companies to license each other’s patents.

 

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