OVERNIGHT TECH: House to consider rewrite of copyright law

THE LEDE: The House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet will hold a hearing on Wednesday to consider whether to update copyright laws.

Maria Pallante, the register of copyrights, will argue that it is time for a broad update of copyright laws to make them more "forward thinking and flexible.

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"Because the dissemination of content is so pervasive to life in the 21st century, the law also should be less technical and more helpful to those who need to navigate it. Certainly some guidance could be given through regulations and education," she will say, according to a copy of her remarks. "But my point is, if one needs an army of lawyers to understand the basic precepts of the law, then it is time for a new law." 

One issue that is likely to come up is cellphone unlocking, which allows the owner to switch the device to another carrier. At the advice of Pallante, the Librarian of Congress issued a decision that made cellphone unlocking illegal this year.

The White House and numerous lawmakers have called for legislation to overturn the decision.

Ahead of the hearing, the Motion Picture Association of America circulated a memo laying out its priorities for copyright law.

Microsoft under investigation for bribery: Federal regulators are investigating Microsoft's relationship with business partners that allegedly bribed foreign officials in exchange for software contracts, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

Sources told the Journal that the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating alleged bribery in China, Romania and Italy.

In a blog post, Microsoft deputy general counsel John Frank said the company takes allegations seriously and cooperates with government probes.

"The matters raised in the Wall Street Journal are important, and it is appropriate that both Microsoft and the government review them," Frank wrote. "It is also important to remember that it is not unusual for such reviews to find that an allegation was without merit."

Lawmakers launch Creative Rights Caucus: Reps. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and Howard Coble (R-N.C.), both members of the House Judiciary Committee, have launched a bipartisan caucus aimed at protecting creative and intellectual property. The caucus boasts a membership of 29 members with a range of views on copyright rules, including Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.). Lofgren, in particular, was an opponent of the Stop Online Piracy Act and has spoken out against stringent copyright rules. 

"At a time when gridlock pervades in Washington, it’s clear that protecting creative rights is something members of all political persuasions find common cause in," Chu said in a statement.


ON TAP

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday morning to consider the privacy concerns with allowing drones to fly in U.S. skies.The witnesses will be Benjamin Miller of the Mesa County Sheriff's Office, Amie Stepanovich of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Michael Toscano of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International and Ryan Calo, a law professor at the University of Washington.

“My concerns about the domestic use of drones extend beyond government and law enforcement," Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) plans to say in his opening statement. "Before we allow widespread commercial use of drones in the domestic airspace, we need to carefully consider the impact on the privacy rights of Americans.” 

Fadi Chehadé, the president and CEO of ICANN, and Julie Brill, a Democratic member of the Federal Trade Commission, will speak at the Association of National Advertisers conference in Washington.

The House Homeland Security Committee’s Cybersecurity subpanel will hold a hearing that will cover the cyber threats stemming from Iran, China and Russia. The witnesses slated to testify are Frank Cilluffo, director of the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University; Richard Bejtlich, chief security officer at Mandiant; Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council; and Martin Libicki, senior management strategist at RAND Corp.

Republicans, Democrats and government officials agreed at a House hearing on Tuesday that police should need a warrant to obtain people's emails and other private online messages from third-party providers.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Consensus builds for ECPA update: Republicans, Democrats and government officials agreed at a House hearing on Tuesday that police should need a warrant to obtain people's emails and other private online messages from third-party providers.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the chairman of the Judiciary subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, which was holding the hearing, said that only requiring a subpoena, instead of a warrant, to access emails is "outdated and probably unconstitutional."

"A probable cause standard should apply to the government’s ability to compel a communications provider to disclose a customer’s email message – no matter how old the message is," Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the Judiciary Committee's ranking member, said.

Elana Tyrangiel, the acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Office of Legal Policy, agreed that requiring a warrant has "considerable merit."

Senate bill would require warrant for email searches: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced legislation on Tuesday that would require government officials to obtain a search warrant before accessing emails and other private online content.

Supreme Court: Copyrighted goods can be resold in the US: The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that copyrighted goods made abroad can lawfully be resold in the United States without obtaining permission from the copyright holder first. 

The court issued its opinion in a 6-3 decision, rejecting a copyright infringement suit that book publisher John Wiley & Sons brought against a Thai college student studying in the United States.

Bono Mack heads to K St: Former Rep. Mary Bono Mack is headed to K Street, where the longtime GOP California lawmaker will consult on issues involving technology, Internet privacy and energy for FaegreBD Consulting, the lobby shop announced Tuesday. 

Bono Mack has signed on as a senior vice president at the firm’s Washington office, where she’ll also work on intellectual property rights and entertainment issues, the company said. She is prohibited by federal rules from lobbying for one year. 


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