By Neil Munro
Online Copyright: A slew of four new copyright bills have been introduced by Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., chairman of the intellectual property panel of the House Committee on the Judiciary.
One high-stakes bill would force intellectual property owners and communications companies to share the responsibility for curbing online theft of digital property. A second bill would criminalize unauthorized not-for-profit distribution of copyrighted software, while two more bills would bar efforts to bypass or remove technology features intended to prevent illegal copying or to identify the owners of digital property.
TV Industry: The National Association of Broadcasters has persuaded Congress to postpone by perhaps a decade the day when the government regains use of the spectrum now used for analog TV signals until the FCC jumps through three legal hoops. But even this is not enough for the industry, which had asked to keep the spectrum until 95 percent of people had digital TVs.
Internet Rules: The Federal Communications Commission would be barred from regulating the Internet or online charges, under a new bill introduced by Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., chairman of the telecommunications panel of the House committee on commerce.
Privacy: Tauzin has also introduced two privacy-related bills. One bill, prompted by the public release of a cell-phone conversation early this year among Republican leader Rep. Newt Gingrich, D-Ga., and his allies, would outlaw the modification of legal radios into illegal scanners than can monitor cellular phone conversations. The second bill would require that the online industry draft a voluntary privacy code, and require that companies notify adults how data about their online activities could be used.
Taxes: Despite White House opposition, a quartet of Republican and Democratic legislators has introduced legislation that would remove the Internal Revenue Service from the Department of the Treasury and place it under the control of a nine-person board, to be appointed by the White House. Seven of the nine members would come from industry, according to the measure, sponsored by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa and Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb.