I’m announcing a couple of changes in the Copyright and Technology conference on January 24.
When we were setting the agenda for the next conference, the FCC was deep in to deliberations over its “Unlock the Box” proposal to require pay-TV operators to stop requiring consumers to pay for renting their set-top boxes and make their signals available to third-party devices or apps. Although the proposal failed to come up for a vote last month, I figured this would continue to be an issue on January 24 — four days after the inauguration of the 45th president — and therefore would make a good topic for the conference. When Donald Trump won the election, I continued to assume that the Democrat-controlled FCC would try to push a version of the regulation through before President Obama left the White House.
As Trump said repeatedly throughout the three televised presidential debates: “Wrong!”
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, under pressure from the Republican-led Senate, has agreed not to act any further on regulations that the next Congress “will have an interest in reviewing.” Beltway insiders believe that this means near-certain death for “Unlock the Box,” given that the two Republican FCC commissioners were never in favor of the proposed regulation and that Republicans — characteristically averse to regulation — will get control of the FCC soon.
That would give us not much to talk about at the upcoming conference. So we’ve replaced that panel with another one:
Circumventing the Future: The Fate of Section 1201
Section 1201 of the Copyright Act makes it a violation of copyright law to circumvent “technical protection measures” such as DRM systems. The law is currently being reexamined on a few levels. Earlier this year, the Copyright Office opened a public review of parts of it; the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a federal lawsuit hoping to have it found unconstitutional; and new services such as PlayOn’s cloud-based video stream recording could be said to make DRM circumvention unnecessary. In this session, we’ll consider the future and relevance of Section 1201 for copyright owners, service providers, and consumers.
I’m accepting proposals to moderate this panel now, and there are a couple of speaking slots still available on it; please email if interested.
And speaking of the conference: Earlybird registration rates expire next Thursday, December 1 – register today!