FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Tech at Night: Net Neutrality, Copyright, Patent, Security
Hello! There’s no one clear theme of things to discuss tonight. It’s a diverse list of topics, so let’s just muddle on through and see what’s going on.
We’ve got some good news from what the Republicans in Washington are going. On the Senate side, the side we haven’t heard nearly as much about thanks to the Obama-Reid majority there, conservative Republicans are taking key roles. Senators Toomey, Rubio, and Ayotte will join the Senate subcommittee responsible for FCC oversight. Get to it, gentlemen and lady.
Meanwhile, in the House, Speaker Boehner has come out strong against Net Neutrality, calling it a threat, and warning about follow-on regulation like the Fairness Doctrine. Committee members are active too, judging by H. J. Res. 37 by Greg Walden, Fred Upton, and the gang. This simple, readable, eight-line resolution disapproves the Net Neutrality power grab.
Congressional action against the FCC is needed because the FCC will say one thing and do another, lying as much as necessary in order to push the radical agenda one step at a time.
It will be interesting to see just how aggressive the Obama FBI is in investigating conspiracy theory-motivated attacks on conservative websites online. When “Anonymous” went after credit card companies, they were rolled up pretty quick. But will Eric Holder be so aggressive when the Koch conspiracy theory is on the line, and Americans for Prosperity is the victim? They claim to be big on “cybersecurity” when wanting to take more power online, so it’s put up or shut up time, isn’t it?
Further on the security front, Digital Society continues to analyze the security measures taken by popular websites, though I have to disagree on one point in this report: When Democrats like Senator Schumer express interest, I don’t get happy. I worry about regulation and control, expanding the scope of government online.
And now let’s close with so-called intellectual property. Senator Leahy has set aside his copyright bill (COICA) for now to work on patents. The plan apparently is to change the priority system of patents. The Computer and Communications Industry Association opposes the bill, saying that the bill problems and can’t be supported. It apparently does nothing to prevent overbroad business method patents, and the “first to file” priority system lacks protections for prior users that threaten innovation by the little guys, instead supporting the big guys who can fund fast, efficient patent mills. I’m inclined to demand much more information before I could support the Leahy bill.
And to close the night, I think we seriously need a debate on copyright on the right. It’s one issue where some of our basic principles of economics come into conflict. On one side, my side, there is the argument that copyright is too strong and too long, perverting a Constitutional duty to look out for the public and becoming a subsidy for a few big businesses at the expense of everyone else. I say overly restrictive copyright threatens creative works by rewarding passive sitting.
On the other hand there is the argument based on property rights and the role of government in protecting creators from freeloaders at home and abroad, and finding tools both for copyright holders to protect their property, as well as for government to enforce copyright. Too weak a copyright system they say will threaten creative works.
I think conservatives will find both sides of this argument sympathetic, as they both push our buttons and appeal to our views of government and the market. We’ve got to find a way to thread the needle between protecting the public, and protecting copyright holders. We need a compromise we can unite around to oppose the left’s total disrespect for the market and for creators.