TPP and Telecom News

(NOTE: Originally published June 20, 2013, this post was re-edited for public display, Sept. 20, 2013.  The IAG is no longer my interest group at the NYC chapter of the Graphic Artists Guild, and I am no longer an officer, volunteer, or member of the Graphic Artists Guild.)

If you’re interested in the big picture of copyright and IP policy, and wish to know a little bit about the political sausage-grinding that will likely have an impact on the graphic arts industry, not to mention the U.S. economy and citizen’s rights, here are a few items you might want to dig into:

Why Should I Care About the TPP? (Video by PublicKnowledge.org)

There’s additional background information on Public Knowledge’s TPP page.  If you watched the video or are already aware of MPAA’s and RIAA’s support for SOPA/PIPA and now TPP, then you’re probably not very comfortable with the Graphic Artists Guild’s support for them through their front group, the Copyright Alliance.  While the Guild is very quiet about its membership in the Alliance, please note how the Guild’s logo is prominently displayed on the Copyright Alliance Members’ page.

In addition to the TPP continuing to roll along, there have been two noteworthy events in the past several days;

Michael Froman is Confirmed by Senate as the New USTR (U.S. Trade Representative)

(Huffington Post, June 20, 2013.)  Michael Froman, President Obama’s pick for USTR, will be overseeing negotiations on TPP and upcoming trade deals between the U.S. and Europe.  He was overwhelmingly confirmed by the Senate, with all Republican senators voting yes, and only 4 Democrats voting no.  However, the dissenters Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Carl Levin (D-MI) Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), have some serious concerns about the current lack of transparency in trade negotiations and Froman’s lack of support for more public disclosure.

Confirmation Hearings for Thomas Wheeler, Nominee for FCC Chairman

I spent a couple hours watching C-SPAN’s coverage of the Senate confirmation hearing for nominee Thomas Wheeler on Tuesday. (C-SPAN Videos- Part IPart II)  While he appeared thoughtful and sympathetic to concerns across a wide spectrum of political viewpoints, (something all nominees have a tendency to do) I have more homework to do on him, since there will be some very large questions concerning copyright, net neutrality, corporate mergers, and god-knows what else coming before him as chair of the FCC.  His background as a lobbyist, investor, and corporate telecom executive has raised some eyebrows; see the New York Times editorial of May 08, 2013-  An Industry Man for the FCC.

More Alliance, Nickles, and Patent Troll News

(NOTE: Originally published Feb. 10, 2013, this post was re-edited for public display, Sept. 20, 2013.  The IAG is no longer my interest group at the NYC chapter of the Graphic Artists Guild, and I am no longer an officer, volunteer, or member of the Graphic Artists Guild.)

Geez, I didn’t have to lift a finger this weekend to find fresh news relating to our friends at the Copyright Alliance.  Within 10 minutes of sitting down with my coffee and the New York Times on Saturday morning, I came across Joe Nocera’s op-ed on patent trolls, Innovation Nation at War, a subject which I wrote about in my very recent post Copyright Alliance Update.

A short while later when I checked my e-mail inbox, I was presented with a link to Friday’s “Moyers and Company” program, Susan Crawford on why the U.S. Internet is Slow, Costly, and Unfair.    Bill Moyers interviews Susan Crawford, author of “Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the Gilded Age” who provides yet another unsettling view of the mischief that the backers of the Copyright Alliance and its parent, the Nickles Group LLC, are into:

Susan Crawford:

“What’s happened is that these enormous telecommunications companies, Comcast and Time Warner on the wired side, Verizon and AT&T on the wireless side, have divided up markets, put themselves in the position where they’re subject to no competition and no oversight from any regulatory authority. And they’re charging us a lot for internet access and giving us second class access.”

Crawford discusses the role these companies have had in actually stifling broadband access across America, and how their efforts to preserve and increase their profits are doing great economic and social harm.  To remind you, these are the same corporations that pushed for SOPA  (Stop Online Piracy Act) that similarly would have done great harm to the internet in the name of corporate profits.  You helped them, by the way; the Guild’s executive membership in their proxy, the Copyright Alliance, gave substance to their claims of “grassroots” support for their pro-SOPA lobbying efforts.

The small amount of digging I did this weekend was to follow up on Susan Crawford’s account of municipalities trying to create their own independent broadband networks being stymied by corporate-sponsored legislation.  Efforts by town and city governments to treat the internet as a vital utility rather than merely a luxury commodity, have been met by state legislatures who’ve passed laws banning them from doing this, which of course might endanger the monopolistic power and profits of the big telecom service providers.  This sounded to me like the work of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), and a quick Google search turned up a number of articles confirming this, such as this one at ars technica, South Carolina Passes Bill Against Municipal Broadband.   If you’ve read my report on the Copyright Alliance, you might recall that its parent organization, the Nickles Group LLC, is a supporter of ALEC, and that ex-senator Don Nickles was a contributor to ALEC while serving in the senate.