The role of copyright law in the FCC’s set-top box rulemaking

While there seem to be broader problems with the proposed approach to increasing set-top box “competition,” the Copyright Office focused only on those aspects within the scope of its own unique expertise—the serious conflicts between the Proposed Rule and US copyright laws.

The Copyright Office thus explained how those copyright-related conflicts could affect all parties—content creators, MVPDs, third-party software or device developers, and consumers—implicated by the Proposed Rule.

Source: The role of copyright law in the FCC’s set-top box rulemaking

U.S. Copyright Office Criticizes FCC’s Plan on Set-Top Boxes 

The U.S. Copyright Office criticized a federal agency’s plan to open up the market for pay-TV set-top boxes in a letter to lawmakers on Wednesday.

The letter adds to political pressure on Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler, who has been pushing since the beginning of the year for new FCC rules to open up the market for the costly set-top boxes—currently dominated by cable and satellite pay-TV providers—to new entrants such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google unit.

Source: U.S. Copyright Office Criticizes FCC’s Plan on Set-Top Boxes – WSJ

Content Companies Commend Box-Ditching Effort 

0502_washington_fccheadquarters_91Major content companies 21st Century Fox, Time Warner, Viacom, CBS and Scripps offered their support for the basics of cable operators’ “ditch the box” set-top proposal in meetings with top aides to Republican commissioner Ajit Pai last week but said it needed tweaking to insure content protections.

They told the staffers that of the “various alternatives” the FCC is considering for boosting competition in the video navigation space, the apps-based MVPD plan “offers a constructive foundation for providing consumers with an alternative to leasing set-top boxes, subject to certain additional protections for programmers and the clarification of particular details.”

Source: Content Companies Commend Box-Ditching Effort | Broadcasting & Cable

NCTA Pitches ‘Ditch the Box’ Set-Top Proposal 

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association and other parties opposed to the FCC’s “unlock the box” set-top proposal are pitching a compromise “ditch the box” (#ditchthebox) alternative they say “combines enforceable obligations and open standards, which are centerpieces of the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, with the market-driven apps solutions preferred by critics of the FCC’s proposed mandate.”

They said after talks with ISPS about how to achieve the FCC end of a competitive market, they hit on an alternative based on enforcing an industry-wide commitment–“binding, enforceable obligations” to “develop and deploy video ‘apps’ that all large MVPDs would build to open HTML5 web standards,” which they say would benefit consumers and commercial rights.

Source: NCTA Pitches ‘Ditch the Box’ Set-Top Proposal | Multichannel

Appeals Court Hands Obama Administration Major Win In Net Neutrality Case

In a long-awaited decision, a federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld the Obama administration’s net neutrality rules, dealing a punishing blow to telecom and cable companies that have sought to overturn the regulations.

Characterizing the government’s net neutrality effort as an “attempt to achieve internet openness” and “the principle that broadband providers must treat all internet traffic the same regardless of source,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit concluded that the rules are authorized under current law.

Source: Appeals Court Hands Obama Administration Major Win In Net Neutrality Case

Sen. Leahy: FCC Must Clarify Set-Top Proposal

Count Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, among the fans of the FCC’s set-top box proposal but only if it protects MVPD content and contracts.

Leahy sent a letter to Wheeler this week (there were no co-signers), saying he supported the need for competition, though he characterized the proposal as “beginning a discussion of how best to [spur meaningful set-top competition] in today’s environment.”

Source: Sen. Leahy: FCC Must Clarify Set-Top Proposal | Broadcasting & Cable

Rights and the Set-top Box

The formal comsettop _box_openment period in the Federal Communications Commission’s set-top box proceeding closed this week after tallying 256,747 submissions. Most were canned comments submitted by consumers who had been rounded up for the purpose by interest groups on both sides of the issue. But the controversial proposal to require pay-TV providers to “unlock” the set-top box and make disaggregated elements of their service available to third-party device makers and app developers also drew over 1,000 substantive comments from rights owners, members of the pay-TV industry, technology providers and other agencies of government involved in telecommunications policy.

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