Copyright Alliance slams Public Knowledge's 'campaign of misinformation' in FCC set-top proceedings

James Madison Memorial Building of the Library of Congress (Credit: U.S. Copyright Office)

The Copyright Alliance called out Public Knowledge’s “campaign of misinformation” in response to a letter from the Register of Copyrights, scrutinizing the FCC’s proposed set-top rules.

In a letter to the FCC earlier this month, the U.S. Copyright Office said the proposal could possibly interfere with programming deals and lessen copyright holders’ ability to properly license their content. In response, Public Knowledge Senior Staff Attorney John Bergmayer said the letter contained “many inaccuracies” and that the Copyright Office’s analysis rendered “irrelevant” the interests of consumers.

“Public Knowledge’s criticisms of the Copyright Office’s objectivity, statutory mission, and legal analysis are wholly without merit,” said Copyright Alliance CEO Keith Kupferschmid in a statement. “Public Knowledge also accuses the Copyright Office of treating the interests of consumers as ‘irrelevant’ and fair use as ‘an obstacle to be overcome.’ These accusations ring hollow.”

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Kupferschmid goes on to say that Public Knowledge attempts to discredit the Register’s analysis by accusing the Copyright Office of being biased, adding that there is “no factual evidence to support these wild accusations, and ample evidence to the contrary.”

Kupferschmid also accuses Public Knowledge of denigrating the Copyright Office’s status and expertise.

“According to Public Knowledge, the Copyright Office is ‘merely an office within the Library of Congress,’ to whose opinion courts give ‘no particular weight.’ This claim is flat-out wrong,” said Kupferschmid. “The Copyright Office’s has a statutory mandate from Congress to function as an expert on copyright law and policy and to ‘. . . [p]rovide information and assistance to Federal departments and agencies and the Judiciary on national and international issues relating to copyright.’”

In defending the Copyright Office’s critique of the proposal, Kupferschmid said certain terms would require MVPDs to re-engineer their service to allow third-party device manufacturers and apps developers to repackage an MVPD’s content into a service vastly different from that originally offered by the MVPD.

“The Proposal also invents a new concept, so-called ‘Navigable Services,’ which consists of the components of MVPD service that must be made available – for free – on an unbundled basis to such third parties for use in creating their derivative services,” said Kupferschmid. “The Proposal further envisions that these third parties could alter aspects of MVPD service in providing their derivative services to MVPD customers. Furthermore, many of the proponents of the Proposal have stated their intent to use the access they receive as set-top box manufacturers to store and repackage content.”

“The FCC’s proposed set-top box mandate would harm creative professionals who create content that such third parties seek to exploit,” said Kupferschmid. “Decision-makers should not allow Public Knowledge’s campaign of misinformation to lead them astray – the copyright concerns in the FCC’s proposal are real and glaring, and must be addressed.”

For more:
- see this FCC filing

Related articles:
U.S. Copyright Office questions FCC’s set-top plan
Majority Whip to Wheeler: 'Abandon' Unlock the Box
Nebraska Sen. Fischer: 'Vibrant competition in the video market already exists'


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