It’s the age old [Internet] question:  what should be done to curb online piracy?  

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While there is widespread consensus that online piracy is challenging given the scale and scope of the Internet, the answer to this age old question depends on who you ask.  

Suggested policy solutions range from pure self-regulation; to voluntary multi-stakeholder processes think the current DMCA multi-stakeholder process driven by the USPTO; to subtle pushes for legislative solutions.  

Currently, the United States House Judiciary IP Subcommittee is in the middle of its comprehensive review of the U.S. Copyright Act in light of the digital age.  As the conversation regarding the effectiveness of the copyright system in the  digital era rages on, it is clear that a “one size fits all” policy solution is not practical.  In previous iterations of this debate, increased online piracy was often attributed to a narrow list of culprits, most notably search engine results.  However, this narrow focus fails to account for the trending marketplace realities and consumer behavior.  

This week’s events alone are a strong indication that the digital marketplace is rapidly evolving and recent innovations and product launches have propelled us into a dramatically different, online context.  Principally, the lines between platforms and content providers are increasingly blurring.

What Happened?

  • 'Winter Is Coming':  HBO, the cable channel that brought us Game of Thrones announced earlier this week that in 2015, the network will offer a stand alone, over-the-top web-streaming service in the United States to capture more of the 80 million homes that currently don’t have access to the network. This service will compete directly with existing services like Netflix.  In a statement following this announcement, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said, "…competition will drive us both to be better."

  • We Want In: Shortly after HBO’s announcement and post the Supreme Court’s Aereo’s decision in favor of the network, CBS announced its “CBS All Access” digital subscription service search to launch in its top 14 markets.  For about $6 a month, the service will offer on demand episodes of its top primetime shows after their air live as well as episodes from previous seasons of its programs. CBS CEO Les Moonves said this move is intended to "capitalize on technological advances that help consumers engage with our world-class programming."  

  • Making Moves: Google is moving full steam ahead in its quest to help Internet users effectively and efficiently reach legitimate sources of content.  The search company just rolled out three key features to help this effort including:

  1. Changing up its ad formats related to search results on music and movie queries:  Now, when you search for a movie or song of your choice, Google will prominently display authorized platforms offering legitimate content such as Amazon, Netflix, and even its own Google Play.
  2. Improving its DMCA demotion signal in Search:  Google has refined its 2012 tools to downgrade websites that receive large volumes of valid DMCA notices. which it thinks will noticeably impact the rankings of these illegitimate sites. Expect this to go live globally next week.
  3. Autocompletion Changes: Google will also be removing additional terms from autocomplete (based on DMCA removal notices) that are typically associated with piracy.
  • There’s More: In addition to rolling out these features, YouTube recently announced that Content ID — its system to help creators identify their respective works on the platform and then monetize the distribution of these works — has generated a whooping $1 billion for its partners that participate in the program.  Also, YouTube just announced its first ever NY production studio to help its artists refine their skills.  To get the full scope of what Google is doing to fight piracy, check out their new report here.

What Does This All Mean?

It’s simple - the marketplace is working, and the market can act more nimbly and effectively than regulation can.  

In 2008, a “Digital Entertainment Survey” found that a perceived lack of choice in legal alternatives contributes to online infringement.  And, according to Ipsos, the introduction of legal alternatives such as Spotify and Netflix was followed by dramatic reductions in online infringement of music and videos – 80% and 50%, respectively.   Furthermore, Sandvine found that BitTorrent traffic used to account for about 60% of online traffic, but in recent years due to services like Netflix, Spotify, and YouTube, this percentage has plummeted to less than 10%.

The takeaway…

Healthy marketplace competition in providing availability and access to legal alternatives of content are critical to meeting consumers demands. The current U.S. copyright system continues to allow for a dynamic and flexible digital environment where creators can adequately protect their works while also allowing for new and innovative products and services.  Industry efforts and marketplaces solutions are proven methods to address the challenges presented by online piracy and should be encouraged through sound copyright policy.

 

Washington, D.C. – As abusive patent litigation remains a problem in the U.S. court system, The Internet Association stands in support of legal action to prevent the International Trade Commission (ITC) from stretching its patent law authority to regulate the Internet.

In an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, The Internet Association argued that the ITC’s position – that the agency has jurisdiction over all electronic signals transmitted into the United States – is an overreach of the Commission’s authority and urged the Court of Appeals to make clear that the ITC cannot enjoin the transmission electronic data.  The Internet Association’s brief argues that the ITC’s decision would “risk widespread disruption of the global Internet and to essential American economic interests.”

“This landmark patent law case has enormous implications for cloud computing, the free flow of information between countries and the future of a free and open Internet,” said Abigail Slater, Internet Association Vice President of Legal and Regulatory Policy.  “The ITC believes it can use patent law to regulate all electronic data entering the United States.  We believe the Commission’s position is unlawful, unenforceable, and harmful to global Internet commerce.”    

The amicus brief contends that the ITC overstepped its patent authority in two key regards: (1) that Commission has jurisdiction only over tangible objects, not electronic data; (2) the Commission’s jurisdiction is limited to articles that “infringe,” and that do so when imported.

The case centers on the ITC’s jurisdiction in patent cases.  Section 337 of the ITC’s enabling statute allows owners of U.S. intellectual property to seek to block “articles that infringe” a patent from entering the U.S. market.  However the term “articles that infringe” has long been defined as tangible objects, and does not include electronic data.  Previous court rulings have made clear that digital data cannot be treated as “articles that infringe” because electronic signals cannot be patented.  The determination that digital signals are not patentable means that a digital signal cannot be an “infringing article” within the meaning of the ITC’s statute.

“It is extremely important for the Court to clarify that the ITC Act does not extend the scope of exclusive rights beyond the intent of Congress,” continued Slater. “Extending ITC remedies beyond congressional intent will hurt Internet users and threaten large investments in the Internet’s infrastructure.”

Cloud computing realizes enormous efficiencies through economies of scale, allowing users to benefit from reduced cost and increased network reliability.  It touches every sector of society – including large and small businesses, schools and universities, and governments.  But the cloud can only deliver its benefits to the economy if data can be stored, processed, and served in identical ways throughout the world.  Any ITC remedy negatively impacting electronic data transfer into the United States would serve to undermine the benefits of the cloud to customers, both large and small.  The ITC acknowledges that an exclusion order is unworkable for electronic data transfers over the Internet because the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service would be unable to enforce such a remedy.  The Internet Association’s brief argues that an ITC cease and desist order is similarly unworkable:

    “The [ITC] statute makes clear that the authority to issue cease and desist orders does not extend to cases where an exclusion order is unavailable – a conclusion that is reinforced by the legislative history and the ITC’s prior consistent practice.”  

“It is a known fact that patent litigation has run amok and is clogging our court system.  The trial bar is now trying to convince the ITC to get into the act.  Internet innovators need clear rules, not more uncertainty.  We urge the Court to hold that the ITC may not stretch U.S. patent law to enjoin the transmission of data over the Internet.” said Slater.  

See the press release here. The amicus brief can be viewed here.      

There are approximately 3 billion people in the global workforce. LinkedIn’s vision is to create economic opportunity for every one of them. The development of the world’s first Economic Graph will lead to making that vision a reality. This, of course, is no easy task. Our vision is grand, but it’s not unattainable.

So, here’s the challenge: Given the wealth of data that exists within LinkedIn, what research would you propose that has the potential to create greater economic opportunity?

We are launching the LinkedIn Economic Graph Challenge to encourage researchers, academics and data-driven thinkers to solve some of the most challenging economic problems of our times.

Together, we believe we can effectively remove barriers to economic growth and create opportunity for every member of the global workforce.

Learn more about the LinkedIn Economic Graph Challenge

What is the Economic Graph?

The Economic Graph is, in short, a digital mapping of the global economy. It will include a profile for every one of the 3 billion members of the global workforce, enabling them to represent their professional identity and subsequently find and realize their most valuable opportunities. It will include a profile for every company in the world, who you know at those companies up to three degrees to help you get your foot in the door, and the product and services those companies offer to enable you to be more productive and successful. It will digitally represent every economic opportunity offered by those companies, full-time, temporary and volunteer, and every skill required to obtain those opportunities. It will include a digital presence for every higher education organization in the world that can help members obtain those skills. And it will overlay the professionally relevant knowledge of every one of those individuals, companies, and universities to the extent that they want to publicly share it. Learn more about the Economic Graph  and join the discussion.

To read more, click here.

 

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We released a new whitepaper today, Reasserting Canadian Internet Competitiveness, which concludes that the current competitiveness gap between Canada’s digital economy and those of other G20 nations can be closed with smart public policy.  Representatives from Google Canada, Salesforce, and SurveyMonkey will participate in a panel at the Economic Club of Canada today to discuss the importance of the digital economy to Canada’s future.

"The proliferation of Internet-enabled systems and devices allows businesses to innovate and grow, helps Governments to provide services, and expands human capacity to interact, collaborate, and share knowledge," The Internet Association notes in the whitepaper. "As Canada’s policy-makers struggle to improve the country’s competitiveness, a key part of the answer is hidden in plain sight. The future performance of the Canadian economy is dependent on the dynamism of the Internet economy."  

According to a 2014 report by Comscore, Canada ranks number one overall in the number of web pages visited per month, and a separate report conducted by CIRA, indicates that Canadians are second only to the United States for the average number of hours spent online per user. While Internet usage in Canada is high, only 45.5 percent of Canadian businesses have a website. The whitepaper identifies increased adoption of the Internet by small and medium sized businesses as a clear area for economic growth.

"The Government of Canada can grow the Internet economy with supportive policies like tax credits that encourage small and medium sized businesses to adopt digital technologies," said Michael Beckerman, President and CEO of The Internet Association. "Promoting Internet access nationwide and increasing STEM education will ensure Canada’s workforce has the skill set needed for a 21st Century economy and help Canada close the competitiveness gap that exists with other G20 nations.”

Follow along on Twitter with #IAcanada2014 and read more here: http://bit.ly/IAcanada

 

We released a new nationwide survey demonstrating strong support for net neutrality protections for wireless Internet users.  Nearly 90 percent of respondents say they do not favor wireless carriers creating fast and slow lanes for the Internet, while more than two-thirds say that wireless Internet providers should not be able to block access to lawful websites and apps.  

In multiple filings with the FCC, we have pressed the case for harmonizing net neutrality rules over wireline and wireless networks.  We have highlighted the dangers of treating mobile and wireline networks differently, pointing out that wireless providers believe that mobile broadband should be exempt from no-blocking and non-discrimination rules, essentially arguing for the right to block any mobile app or use at their discretion.  

“There is only one Internet and the FCC’s open Internet rules should recognize that.  No matter how users choose to connect to the Internet, net neutrality rules should apply universally on both wireless and wireline networks,” said Michael Beckerman, President and CEO of The Internet Association.  

Strong public support for net neutrality is evident in the overwhelming flood of more than 3.7 million comments to the FCC, urging the Commission to protect an open Internet.  This recent survey finds a similar measure of support among the public specifically on the question of wireless net neutrality.  The survey was fielded on September 8, 2014 and commissioned by the Internet Association and SurveyMonkey. Results were collected from a representative sample of 550 Americans using SurveyMonkey Audience.

“High speed Internet access is a necessity to compete in today’s economy,” said Beckerman.  “Connecting through a mobile device is often the only way low-income Americans get online.  Creating enforceable net neutrality rules that cover both wired and wireless connections ensures that all Americans have access to an uncensored Internet.”

If you’d like to see the results to the full wireless net neutrality survey, it can be viewed by clicking here.

 

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Last month, The Internet Association hosted a small business crawl to spotlight success stories of businesses in Fresno, California that are making the Internet an important element to the success of their operation.

Joined by Assemblyman Henry T. Perea (D – Fresno), members of the local business community, and Internet Association member company representatives, the crawl participants visited these thriving businesses located in Fresno’s popular Tower District: Chase Flower Shop, Dusty Buns Bistro Bus, Frosted Cakery and Piemonte Italian Delicatessen.

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“The Internet helps every business sector in every region across the state, especially in Fresno and throughout the Central Valley. While the region is often known for agriculture, it should also be recognized for some of the exciting restaurants, art venues, and specialty retail stores that are flourishing in the area as well,” said Perea in an opinion editorial about the crawl. “It’s critical we ensure California continues to remain a leader in technology, and that policy decisions we make here in Sacramento support innovation and help grow Internet economies across the state.”

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The fact is small businesses use the Internet to boost their bottom-line. According to the National Small Business Association’s 2014 Mid-Year Economic Report, just under one-third of small business owners surveyed said that their growth strategy over the next 12 months includes expanding Internet and e-commerce operations. For example, the Fresno Business Journal reported that “Michael Butler, who purchased Chase Flower Shop about 10 years ago, said about 30 percent of his business is generated by online sales. He said even more people go to the website to check out products that they will later come in and buy in person. Butler said it’s essential to use every Internet tool available.”

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It was a successful event and we thank Assemblyman Perea and the Fresno-based business and community leaders as well as the small business owners for participating. Here are a few highlights of the lively Twitter conversation from the crawl:

To see more photos from the crawl, click here to view our Flickr album.

For years, tech companies ignored Washington. But Washington wasn’t about to ignore them.

A few years ago, Congress debated some big bills on Internet policy, and Silicon Valley wasn’t at the table. So tech companies opened D.C. headquarters and started lobbying.

Web giants like Google, Amazon and Facebook joined forces to create a new trade group, The Internet Association, two years ago. Michael Beckerman is the association’s president and CEO.

He showed me around their sleek, new Washington office and explained why he’s here.

“That’s my job,” he says. “To help build relationships and bridge the gap between our industry and Congress.”

That gap makes it hard for tech to gain traction in Washington. Part of the problem? It takes time to build relationships on Capitol Hill, and tech is new to the K Street lobby game. Also, the tech industry wants quick movement on huge issues, like immigration and patent reform.

Back in Silicon Valley, they can’t understand what’s taking so long.

“In the Internet world and Silicon Valley, people see a problem and they find a way to solve it, but that’s not always how Washington works,” Beckerman says.

So Beckerman and his chief lobbyist, Gina Woodworth, make regular trips to Capitol Hill. The day I meet up with them, they’re off to Congressman Paul Ryan’s office to talk about trade legislation.

Of course, we take an Uber SUV to Capitol Hill.

“The last time they drafted a trade bill was in 2002,” says Gina Woodworth. “In 2002, a lot of our companies weren’t even created and we weren’t really an active stakeholder at that time. But now we are.”

To read the full article, click here.

Beckerman: “Sharing economy platforms like Sidecar exemplify the Internet’s ability to foster new and innovative services that disrupt entrenched industries and improve people’s lives…”

Washington, D.C. — The Internet Association announced today that ridesharing company Sidecar has joined the trade group of leading Internet companies as its 28th

“Sidecar’s technology platform offers a safe and affordable way for people to get around their city,” said Sunil Paul, Co-founder and CEO of Sidecar.  “Sidecar also helps everyday drivers monetize the extra space in their car providing real economic value and job creation. As with many innovative companies, policies  don’t  always  keep  pace  with  innovation  and  progress.  We are excited to join The Internet Association and work with them to advance our shared goal of championing technology innovation and challenging  roadblocks that  attempt to stall or stop the application of these solutions to revolutionize industries.”

Founded in  2012,  Sidecar is  a  ridesharing  service that  connects  everyday  drivers  with  people nearby via a smartphone app.  The San Francisco based company is currently offering its services in 10 U.S. markets and has facilitated more than a million safe and affordable rides over the past two years.

“Sharing economy platforms like Sidecar exemplify the Internet’s ability to foster new and innovative services that disrupt entrenched industries and improve people’s lives,” said  Michael Beckerman, President and CEO of the Internet Association.  “The Internet Association is proud to welcome Sidecar as our newest member.”

To read the original press release, click here.