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Global Media and Communications Watch

The International Media and Telecoms Law Blog

Posted in Internet, Policy & Regulation, Telecoms & Broadband

Net neutrality in Europe: BEREC publishes report on monitoring Internet QoS

Net neutrality has in recent years become a prominent area of interest for BEREC – the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications – which is composed of high level representatives of the relevant national regulatory authorities (NRAs) in each EU Member State.  In 2011 the European Commission asked it to undertake a fact-finding exercise on issues crucial to ensuring an open and neutral internet, and since then, BEREC has published various frameworks and guidelines on quality of service and transparency as well as findings on the traffic management practices and restrictions applied by ISPs. 

This latest report follows its public consultation on internet access service (IAS) quality monitoring systems, and seeks to establish a basis for creating quality-monitoring that is capable of (i) enhancing transparency for end users of electronic communications services and (ii) assisting NRAs in assessing potential degradation of service and intervening with appropriate corrective measures.  In this context, BEREC discusses issues relating to the metrics and methods of quality monitoring IAS, both as a whole and individually, and considers the costs benefits of controlled and less controlled measurement systems in different contexts.  It recommends that:

  • for the quality monitoring of IAS as a whole upload/download speed, delay and jitter, and packet loss ratio should (as a minimum) be measured at the IP layer, while for individual applications using IAS, assorted applications (i.e. content and applications) should be measured by NRAs to check whether there is degradation; 
  • for transparent information about IAS for individual end users, a software-based measurement agent downloaded to end user equipment can be sufficient, low cost and user-friendly, while for in-depth long-term regulatory supervision of IAS quality, a more controlled measurement system (e.g. with hardware probes) would be appropriate – NRAs will need to strike a balance between the two.  

BEREC also goes on to consider the possibility of establishing a multi-NRA opt-in quality-monitoring system dedicated to regulatory purposes.  This is no small feat given such a system would need to meet the current and future needs of NRAs as well as providing the basis for cross-border measurements.  Although BEREC recommends an evolutionary multi-stage approach in principle, it recognises the potential practical challenges involved e.g. cost of cooperation, complexity of system, time constraints related to alignment among NRAs etc.  It therefore proposes an initial feasibility study to investigate whether an opt-in approach involving the convergence of methods and sharing of infrastructure could be realised in practice, including NRAs with no existing systems. 

Posted in Policy & Regulation

Russia tightens foreign ownership restrictions in media

On 14 October 2014 the Russian President signed into law a bill introducing amendments to the Russian Mass Media Law[1] (the “Law”), which introduces severe restrictions for foreign ownership in media business in Russia.[2] The Law will come into force on 1 January 2016.  The draft of the Law was submitted to the State Duma (the lower house of the Russian Parliament) for its consideration on 17 September 2014, and passed all three readings within the State Duma and approval by the Federation Council (the upper house of the Russian Parliament) within a record-breaking time by 1 October 2014[3].

Previously, the Mass Media Law limited foreign ownership to 50% for (i) founders of TV and radio channels, TV, radio and video programs, and (ii) broadcasting organizations with a certain coverage area.  The Law goes further and provides for stricter rules for foreign ownership applicable to all mass media, including printed publications, web publications, TV and radio channels and TV, radio and video programs, newsreel programs, and other forms of regular distribution of information under a permanent name.

In short, the Law limits direct and indirect foreign ownership of Russian mass media businesses, and applies to both existing and future foreign ownership interests.

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Posted in Data Protection & Privacy, Internet, Policy & Regulation, Spectrum, Telecoms & Broadband

Winnik International Telecoms & Internet Forum

Please join us for the third annual Winnik International Telecoms & Internet Forum, which will be held on 22 October 2014 at Hogan Lovells’ Washington, D.C. office. This forum brings together professionals from around the world for an afternoon of high-level discussion on current topics in international telecoms, media, and the Internet landscape. Please register using the link on the right.Hogan Lovells is hosting this forum in honor of our former partner Joel Winnik, who practiced international telecom law until his passing in 2012.


Agenda:

12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.

Lunch and keynote address by Maureen Ohlhausen, Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission

 

1:15 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Panel discussions on hot topics including:

  • Spectrum Policy — Emerging Issues in Mobile Broadband and Wireless Services
  • Privacy, Cybersecurity, and Law Enforcement Access Issues for Connected Devices
  • Connected in Mobile Health
  • Internet of Things — Who Owns the Customer?

Guest panelists include:

  • Roger Sherman, Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
  • Dean Brenner, Senior Vice President for Government Affairs, Qualcomm
  • Michael Brown, Vice President of Security Product Management and Research, BlackBerry
  • Charlie Giordano, Chief Technology Officer for GE Healthcare Life Care
  • Kathleen Ham,  Vice President of Federal Regulatory Affairs, T-Mobile
  • David Jeppsen, Vice President of Business Development and Public Affairs, NTT DoCoMo USA
  • Julie Kearney, Vice President, Consumer Electronics Association
  • Danielle Kriz, Director of Global Cybersecurity Policy, Information Technology Industry Council
  • Harry Lightsey, Executive Director, Global Connected Consumer,General Motors
  • Jules Polonetsky, Executive Director & Co-Chair, Future of Privacy Forum
  • Tom Schaffnit, President, VII Consortium/Consultant to Honda

 

Cocktail reception — 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

Register for the Forum

 

Date

22 October 2014

 

Time

12:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

 

Click here for calendar appointment

 

Venue

Hogan Lovells

Fulbright Center – 13th Floor

Columbia Square

555 13th Street, NW

Washington, D.C. 20004

 

Click here for map

 

CLE certification

This program is pending approval for CLE credit in New York, Virginia, and California. For all other jurisdictions, attendees will receive a Uniform Certificate of Attendance.

 

Note to NY attorneys

This program is appropriate for both newly admitted and experienced attorneys.

 

Contact

For more information, please contact Hogan Lovells’ D.C. Marketing Team.

 

 

Posted in Data Protection & Privacy, Internet, Policy & Regulation

French Digital Council launches consultation on digital technology

On 4 October 2014, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, along with State Secretary for digital economy Axelle Lemaire, launched a national consultation on digital technology, which will be implemented under the aegis of the French Digital Council (Conseil National du Numérique). In this scope, Prime Minister Manuel Valls expressed his wish for digital technology to become “a tool of growth, competitiveness, education, culture, justice and equality“. 

The main goal of this national consultation is to issue independent opinions and recommendations on any question relating to the impact of digital technologies on economy and society. These recommendations will notably be used by State Secretary for digital economy Axelle Lemaire to draft the future bill relating to digital technology, which should be submitted to the French Parliament during the course of 2015. The results of this broad consultation will also be used to redefine France’s new strategy with respect to digital technology, as well as new operational tools.

The national consultation is organized around four main topics which will be opened to consultation from 4 October 2014 until 30 January 2015. The four main topics are the following: growth, innovation and disruption (from 4 October to 4 November 2014); loyalty in digital environment (from 4 October to 28 November 2014); digital transformation of public action (from 3 November to 31 December 2014); and society faced with digital transformation (from 3 November 2014 to 30 January 2015).

Each general topic contains several specific subjects such as: 10 years after French law for the confidence in digital economy: new liabilities, right to be forgotten and delisting, net neutrality, fight against online criminality, health and digital technology, open data, loyalty between economic actors, internet governance, State technologic strategy etc.  

On each specific topic, the French Digital Council firstly identifies the main issues and suggests various approaches and ways forward. On this basis, every internet user within civil society, including companies, institutions, associations, experts, citizens etc. is invited to contribute to assess the propositions made, offer alternative solutions, enrich the debates with additional information etc. The idea behind this process is to enable the French Digital Council to gather as much information as possible and to identify disagreements. At the end of the consultation process, the French Digital Council will draft summaries for each topic and finally a general opinion which will be officially communicated to the French Government.

To learn more, participate and submit an opinion, contributors are invited to visit the following website: http://contribuez.cnnumerique.fr  

Posted in Data Protection & Privacy, Telecoms & Broadband

FTC Reminds Broadband Providers of their Data Privacy and Security Obligations

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in which it reminded broadband Internet service providers that they are subject to several data privacy and security laws enforced by the FTC.  The FTC’s comments underscore why broadband providers – as well as their vendors and business partners – must keep a close watch on both FCC and FTC developments in the privacy and security space.

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Posted in Copyright, Policy & Regulation

UK: three new copyright exceptions come into force

The statutory instruments relating to new UK copyright exceptions for private copying and quotation & parody have now been approved by UK Parliament and come into force on 1 October 2014.

The private copying exception allows individuals in the UK to make copies of copyright works they have legally acquired on a permanent basis, for their own personal, non-commercial use, e.g. to copy a legally bought CD onto a pc. The new laws, however, do not allow the personal copies to be shared with others. Unlike other EU jurisdictions, there is no accompanying levy structure to compensate rights holders. In order to limit the harm, rights holders are not prevented from using “restrictive measures” (such as DRM) to restrict the copying of their works for private use. However consumers may raise complaints with the UK’s Business Secretary if such measures are deemed to be unreasonably deployed.

The new quotation exception extends the current criticism and review and news reporting exceptions, allowing users to quote from any copyright work for any purpose (not just criticism and review or reporting current events) subject to the existing provisos (fair dealing, sufficient acknowledgement etc). Although the exception applies to all works, in practice there are some works, such as photographs, which are impossible to extract or quote from. As with the other new exceptions it is no longer possible for rights holders to restrict the doing of a permitted act by contract.

A new exception for fair dealing for the purposes of parody, caricature and pastiche has also been introduced. An exception to infringement for use for the purposes of parody, caricature and pastiche is available to EU member states under the InfoSoc Directive and has been implemented in a number of member states. However, in implementing the exception, the UK has made it subject to a ‘fair dealing’ proviso, in order to avoid unfairly damaging the normal commercial exploitation of the work. Such a proviso may ultimately reduce the usefulness of such an exception but it remains to be seen how the UK Courts will interpret the new law.

Posted in Broadcasting, Policy & Regulation, Spectrum, Telecoms & Broadband

USA: Next Steps in the FCC’s Incentive Auction – A Preview of the Seven Near-Term Releases

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) is deep in the midst of planning the world’s first broadcast incentive auction, currently slated for mid-2015.  The auction will give over-the-air television broadcasters an opportunity to sell their valuable spectrum rights in a reverse auction process, and the FCC will then repackage this cleared spectrum and auction it to broadband wireless companies, enabling them to better meet consumer’s exploding demand for wireless data.  The Commission issued initial rules for the auction in its Report and Order in May of this year, but its work is far from over.

In the coming weeks, the FCC has seven different items scheduled for adoption that will further affect the mechanics of the Incentive Auction, and some of these items implicate key policy decisions, including, for example, any minimum price the Commission will set for the spectrum it sells.  The FCC has previously released a summary of these follow-on items, as well as a timeline for their release, targeting third quarter of 2014.  With the third quarter of 2014 coming to a close this month and with only three of the follow-on Incentive Auction items scheduled for a vote at the upcoming September 30th Open Meeting, below is an update regarding all seven of these items based on the further details that have emerged since the Commission’s last official releases earlier this summer. Continue Reading

Posted in Copyright, Policy & Regulation

Spanish Supreme Court refers questions to CJEU on private copying levies

On September 10, 2014, the Spanish Supreme Court referred a question to the European Court of Justice related to the new copyright levy system. The debate has arisen in connection with the procedure for payment of copyright levies set out by the Royal Decree 1657/2012, which now regulates the payments by way of a charge to the general State budget. Despite the fact that the levy is still calculated on the basis of the damage effectively caused, it must be fixed within the limits of the national budget determined for each year.

The novelty of the Royal Decree lies not in the copyright levy regime, but in the method of compensating the relevant right holders. Whereas under the previous system, copyright levies were charged ultimately on the end-users, all taxpayers are now the ones committed to paying copyright levies, regardless of the use that each one has made of the private copy.

The main issue referred to the European Court is to determine if the copyright levy funded by the general budget is in accordance with article 5.2.b) of the InfoSoc Directive (Directive 2001/29). But, if the first question is answered in the affirmative (so the Royal Decree complies with the InfoSoc Directive), the Supreme Court also questions whether or not the final amount required for copyright levies must be fixed within the budget limits set out for each year. Thus, the Supreme Court is considering whether this system would mean a breaking of the “right balance” between the interests of the right holders and the users of private copies.

In conclusion, the copyright levy funded by the general budget, challenged since it was first established and only in place in Spain in Norway, will soon be confirmed or denied by the European Court of Justice.

Posted in Copyright, Policy & Regulation

CJEU rules on digitizing and electronic access to works in public libraries

May public libraries digitize the books they have in their collections? May they display the digitized works? And, if so, is it permissible for the library user to make a copy – either on paper or a storage device? These are interesting questions which the CJEU had to consider in the case of Technische Universität Darmstadt vs. Eugen Ulmer KG (Case Ref.: C-117/13). The ruling came through last week and the Luxembourg judges clearly warmed their hearts for the venerable public library and the aim of safeguarding modern electronic offerings. However, it is now for the German Federal Court to interpret the answers given by the CJEU and to render a decision on the merits of the case.

The CJEU ruling has to be seen against the background of a long-lasting dispute between publishers and public libraries in Germany about how to interpret Section 52b of the German Copyright Act. This section implements  Article 5 (3) lit. n) of the InfoSoc Directive into German law. The case started before the Regional Court of Frankfurt back in 2009 and eventually made  its way to the German Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe. There, the proceedings were stayed and, in total, three questions were referred to the CJEU.

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Posted in Policy & Regulation

National Health IT Week at the FCC

This week the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) CONNECT2HEALTHFCC Task Force, a group formed in March 2014 that is focused on using broadband deployment to accelerate the adoption of advanced healthcare technologies, is joining more than 400 other public and private organizations in recognizing National Health IT Week (NHIT week).  NHIT week is a series of events and activities aimed at increasing awareness of the ability of information technology (IT) to advance healthcare services.  For example, health IT, or electronic health records, can improve healthcare by increasing patient safety, decreasing medical errors, and facilitating better communication between patients and their healthcare providers.  The themes for this year’s NHIT week include patient engagement, advancing interoperability, and clinical quality and safety.

NHIT week began September 15 with the Annual Consumer Health IT Summit hosted by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.  FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn delivered the keynote address at the Summit and will also present at the First Annual National Health IT Collaborative for the Underserved Conference on Tuesday, September 16.  The Conference will focus on strategies for using Health IT to eliminate disparities in healthcare and ensure that all patients have and use the tools available to maintain their health and well-being.  Additional NHIT week events include a webinar on new electronic health record certification criteria and a webinar on using health IT to improve the safety of healthcare.

The author wishes to thank Leigh Gusky, an Associate in our Washington, D.C. office, for her assistance in preparing this article.