Platform Access

Will two privacy cops on the same block be one too many?

By Tim Sparapani:

Late last year in Washington something of consequence happened: Two federal agencies decided to jointly regulate consumer privacy issues. And just this week, dozens of consumer and privacy advocates are pushing one of those agencies – the Federal Communications Commission – to vigorously enforce consumer privacy rights.

Given the turf-conscious nature of Washington, the success of last year’s unusual agreement is deserving of critical review. There are high stakes for American consumers who expect privacy violations to be policed properly. For businesses in the converging communications, Internet, and app spaces that rely on their ability to use customer data, doubling the number of privacy cops could create significant headaches.

Traditionally, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been the lead agency for consumer privacy issues. The U.S. has a handful of consumer privacy laws that are sector- or industry-specific. For example, there are statutes on the books that provide authority to regulate the data of health care patients, students and minors. For nearly everything else the FTC has a sort of catch-all consumer privacy enforcement authority not authorized by statute but built up principally over the last 25 years through a series of policy pronouncements and enforcement actions against companies. The FTC uses its core power to police unfair or deceptive trade practices when companies do not live up to their own statements concerning, and promises regarding, their collection, sharing, usage and protection of their customers’ personally identifiable information. Unless a separate privacy statute grants regulatory authority to a different federal agency, the FTC has assumed it is the privacy cop on the beat.

Read the full article here.

Two Is Not Better Than One: The FTC And FCC Join Forces On Privacy

By Tim Sparapani:

At the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, there was plenty of high-tech gadgetry on display — from virtual-reality goggles to the latest incarnation of the hoverboard. But one of the hottest tickets was an hour-long conversation with a couple of D.C. wonks.

CES President Gary Shapiro hosted back-to-back fireside chats with Federal Communications Commission (FCC ) Chairman Tom Wheeler and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairwoman Edith Ramirez to discuss consumer privacy. It’s a topic that has tech executives grinding their teeth in frustration.

Thanks to a recent memorandum of understanding triggered by the Open Internet Order (“Order”) and signed by the two agencies, there are now two cops on the privacy beat.

The order redrew privacy turf when the FCC finalized it this spring. The main purpose of the order was to classify the Internet as a utility under Title II of the Communications Act in the interest of cementing net neutrality. What most of the mainstream press didn’t pick up on at the time was that the order also greatly expanded the FCC’s authority to investigate and enforce perceived privacy violations by broadband companies.

Read the full article here.

TV’s App-Based Future Is At Risk

By: Tim Sparapani

Today, we are closer than ever to that dreamy, sci-fi-ish reality of being able to watch anything we want, whenever we want, wherever we want on the device of our choosing. Services like Netflix NFLX -3.39%, Amazon and Hulu (also known as online video distributors, or OVDs) have made apps the norm for streaming video. And thanks to apps from pay-TV providers, and from programmers like DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket, HBO GO, WatchESPN and FXNOW, many “TV” viewers can use their cable, satellite or IPTV subscriptions to watch shows on any device in any way they like.

So what exactly is broken about this system? Most viewers would say nothing. There’s fantastic content available 24/7, and it’s more convenient than ever to consume. This sounds like a complete win for consumers in an era that is undoubtedly television’s golden age 2.0.

The emergence of the iPhone ushered in the era of the app, which was heartily embraced by consumers. We now live in an app-based society where the majority of our lives happen online. Food delivery via telephone has gone the way of the dodo; today we can push a few buttons and order from Postmates or DoorDash instead. No longer do we need to stand on a street corner and flag a taxi, as Uber and Lyft have got us covered. If you’re a music fan, nearly gone are the days of buying and spinning CDs; today a slew of apps stream your favorite artists or help you discover new ones. And television is becoming no different. There is a way to deliver television content without the need for a box. Even Apple AAPL -2.86%’s Tim Cook calls apps “the future of television.”

Read the full article here.

As the Future of Music Streaming is Decided, Americans Say that Labels and Industry Groups Should Get Smaller Piece of Revenue Pie

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 15, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — As the Copyright Royalty Board prepares to weigh in on the future of online music royalty rates, by a 4-1 ratio Americans think that labels and industry groups should get a smaller piece of the revenue pie according to a new CALinnovates survey.

The survey of 1,092 Americans found that 53 percent believe that “labels and industry groups should get a smaller slice of the pie so the artists and streaming companies can make a living.” That is compared to only 12 percent of Americans who said, “streaming companies should be forced to pay more so that the labels and industry groups can keep their share.”

At stake with the pending Copyright Royalty Board is how revenues from online music should be divvied up. Music labels and performing rights organizations have argued that streaming companies should have to pay more, while others have argued that the labels and industry groups should loosen their hold on the industry so that streaming companies can continue to innovate, which will benefit the entire music ecosystem.

One thing is clear: Americans want to see songwriters and artists get paid. 78 percent said musicians should make the most money from the sale of streaming music. They also put the labels and industry groups last in the order of priority: only 9 percent believe they should make the most money from streaming music.

Read the full article here.

Musicians Are Attacking The Wrong Enemy

By: Mike Montgomery

Music royalty payments are at an all-time high. So why are artists turning on the streaming companies?

According to the companies that collect royalties for songwriters and publishers, times are good. ASCAP and BMI, the two performance rights organizations (or PROs) that represent almost all songwriters and publishers, are falling over each other to brag about how much money they’ve collected.

In March, ASCAP announced that it was the first PRO in the world to report $1 billion in revenues. The nonprofit boasted of “historic high” distributions of over $883 million to its members. In September, BMI also announced “record breaking revenues” of $1 billion with digital revenues exceeding $100 million for the first time ever.

And yet, songwriters and musicians are complaining loudly that they aren’t getting their share of the pie. They are demanding royalty rate increases and a larger direct cut of streaming companies’ revenues, which already operate at half-mast by paying out 50% or more of revenue to royalties.

Where is this disconnect coming from? On the one hand, it seems like streaming is the engine that is finally starting to turn things around for the suffering music industry. Consumers are embracing platforms like Pandora, iHeart and Soundcloud instead of piracy and as a result, they are once again paying for music with subscriptions or by willingly listening to ads.

Read the full article here. 

The Hill – Time For Hollywood and Silicon Valley to stop fighting over copyright

(This article ran in the TheHill.com on December 3, 2015)

By: Mike Montgomery

Recently, the idea of felony streaming once again reared its ugly head. Making streaming copyright infringement a felony is a terrible idea and an example of backward thinking that creates further rifts between tech and entertainment at a time when these two sectors are not only reliant upon one another, but melding. As some may recall, this kind of backward thinking famously and furiously failed before when it was a key part of the ill-conceived effort known as SOPA-PIPA (Stop Internet Piracy Act / Protect IP Act). So strong was the backlash against these would-be laws and their breathtaking overreach, to this day, the term “SOPA-PIPA” sends chills down the spines of lawmakers.

And rightly so.  When it was first proposed in 2011, millions of Internet users demanded it be shut down. YouTubers, on the forefront of the new entertainment industry, worried that uploading images of video games or parts of songs could suddenly land them in jail. Wikipedia, Google and an estimated 7,000 other websites coordinated a day-long service blackout in protest against the bill. One petition drive attracted seven million signatures. Companies and organizations that supported the legislation were boycotted. Even the White House’s Senior Intellectual Property Enforcement official at the time, responding to a We The People Petition against the legislation, vowed to oppose any legislation that would chill innovation and free expression. Much to the relief of many lawmakers, the bill was quietly set aside.

Read the full article here.

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