Tech Tidbits: Copyright Matters

Two copyright-related items:

--A federal judge has granted preliminary approval--a procedural step-- of Google's revised settlement agreement with the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers. U.S. District Judge Denny Chin also scheduled a hearing for Feb. 18, when he will presumably make his final judgement.

The Justice Department, which raised a number of concerns with the first version of the $125 million settlement, has until Feb. 4 to weigh in. There have already been rumblings from critics of the settlement who say it does not go far enough to ensure that Google will not end up controling rights to a significant number of books.

--Dan Glickman, CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, sent a letter (PDF) to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), urging them to support the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which would help crack down on copyright infringement. Some concerns have been raised that the agreement could result in Internet filtering.

Glickman also calls complaints from some groups that the agreement has been drafted behind closed doors "a distraction." And he urges the U.S. government to guide the process "so that we can engage in a meaningful dialogue on substance rather than procedural matters."

The letter was also sent to the leaders of the Senate Finance, House Judiciary, House Ways & Means and House Energy & Commerce committees.

On a related note, the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday confirmed Victoria Espinel to be the country's first Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator. If confirmed by the full Senate, she's expected to play a key role in the completion of the ACTA agreement. 

--Information Week reports that Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) has introduced a bill that would ban peer-to-peer file sharing programs, such as BitTorrent and Limewire, on government computers and networks. It would require the Office of Management and Business to set policies on homes use by employees to telecommute or access federal networks remotely.