Fred Wilson, pictured above, is a NY VC at Union Square Ventures. He was a ground-floor investor in Twitter and Zynga. You all should be reading his blog AVC.COM. When I heard that Fred was heading to DC to discuss the E-Parasites bill, I asked him if I could re-post anything he wrote on E-Parasites. Here it is:
Protecting The Safe Harbors Of The DMCA And Protecting Jobs
My partner Brad and I spent Thursday in DC along with a bunch of entrepreneurs and VCs. We talked to dozens of our elected officials about an issue that is very concerning to us, protecting the safe harbors of the DMCA.
The DMCA is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. It received unanimous support in the Senate and was signed into law by President Clinton in 1998. It is a complex piece of legislation but it contains four “safe harbors” for “network service providers. The four safe harbors are explained here. “Network service providers” is shorthand for web services. Companies like Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are “network service providers.”
The DMCA took a long time to become law. There were many legislative stops and starts on the way to its passage. Ultimately, congress and the administration forced the content industry to negotiate with the technology industry. That negotiation produced the compromises that are contained in the DMCA and that is what allowed it to get unanimous support in the Senate.
Fast forward to today. The content industry’s lobbyists have forged two new bills, one in the Senate called Protect IP and one in the House called E-Parasites. These bills were written by the content industry without any input from the technology industry. And they are trying to fast track them through congress and into law without any negotiation with the technology industry.
These bills are positioned as necessary actions to prevent “online piracy” particularly from rogue sites outside of the US. The technology industry is certainly concerned about online piracy. It has developed both protectitive technologies like DRM and alternative distribution services like premium streaming audio and video services such as Netflix, Spotify, and many others. These protective technologies and alternative distribution services have significantly cut the amount of online piracy in the past decade. An executive from Viacom testified recently in Congress that the vast majority of piracy is limited to “about twenty websites.” So the technology industry has done a lot to help the content industry get a handle on online piracy in the past decade.
If another negotiation is in order to amend the DMCA, then let’s have it. The last negotiation produced an excellent compromise that has stood the test of time and allowed important new services like Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to be created and become large companies and massive job creators.
It is this last point that is critical. The content indusrtry is not creating new jobs right now. The tech industry, led by startups, have created all the net new jobs in the past five years. Companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, and startups like Dropbox, Kickstarter, and Twilio are the leading exporters and job creators of this time. They are the golden goose of the economy and we cannot kill the golden goose to protect industries in decline.
Big companies like Google and Apple can afford to defend themselves from litigious content companies. But three person startups cannot. And Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were three person startups not so long ago. If they had not had the protection of the safe harbors of the DMCA, they could have been litigated out of business before they even had a chance to grow and develop into the powerhouses they have become. And venture capitalists will think more than twice about putting $3mm of early stage capital into startups if they know that the vast majority of the funds will go to pay lawyers to defend the companies instead of to hire engineers to create and build product.
The bottom line is that DMCA works. Its safe harbors have allowed the Internet to become the US’s most important new industry in a century and a critical job creator. If we need to amend the DMCA, let’s do it with a negotiation between the interested parties, not with a bill written by the content industry’s lobbyists and jammed through congress on a fast track.
Now we are going to try an experiment using Disqus as an easy way to do something about this. If you want to write Congress on this issue, then simply write your letter in the comments below as if you were writing Congress directly and tag it with ‘@votizen’ followed by your residence zipcode (see my test comment as an example). The Votizen guys will get a copy of your letter through Disqus, and will automatically deliver the message to your specific Congressional representative. Votizen will follow up with you in case you want to track the message and get a response, but that is optional. Mostly, this is just a test to see if more people get involved when we make it easier and transparent. If it works and you like it the Disqus and Votizen guys might invest a bit more time on seeing how blog commenting could be used as a new form of civic engagement.
Comments on Fred’s blog are here.
Basis, owner of incontestable registration for BBX for software development tools, sues RIM, maker of the Blackberry, which has announced a BBX operating system.
Photo from here.
I will be speaking on “New Tools and Theories In Battling Non-US Online Infringements”, with a bonus discussion on the new gTLDs, before the Connecticut Intellectual Property Law Association, in New Haven, CT, on Wednesday November 2,
The ICM Registry, owner of the soon-to-be-launched .XXX top level domain, is operating a ‘Sunrise’ period that will end this Friday, OCTOBER 28.
WHAT IS A SUNRISE PERIOD FOR A DOMAIN NAME LAUNCH?
To mitigate cyber-squatting, a domain name registry opens the store doors early to trademark owners who can apply and reserve domain names that reflect an IDENTICAL trademark.
WHY IS THE .XXX SUNRISE DIFFERENT FROM PRIOR SUNRISE PERIODS?
Perhaps because certain companies don’t want to ‘own’ a .XXX name, there will be both a standard sunrise, known as Sunrise A, and a ‘negative’ sunrise period, known as Sunrise B, that allows trademark owners to merely block the registration of a certain name.
WHAT IS SUNRISE A?
Sunrise A is the standard sunrise, in which trademark owners, or operators of the matching domain name in the adult field, can reserve a .XXX name for use. To make things a little complex, registrars are referring to trademark-based applications as SUNRISE AT and to domain name-based claims as SUNRISE AD.
WHAT IS SUNRISE B?
Sunrise B is the negative sunrise, in which trademark owners block everyone (including themselves) from registering the name.
WHAT IF TWO ENTITIES WANT THE NAME UNDER SUNRISE A?
The highest bidder gets it.
WHAT IF THERE ARE COMPETING SUNRISE A AND SUNRISE B APPLICATIONS?
The Sunrise A applicant gets the name (although the Sunrise B trademark owner could take legal action, perhaps).
WHAT IF THERE ARE COMPETING SUNRISE B TRADEMARK OWNERS?
The name gets blocked, and the registry keeps everyone’s fees.
HOW MUCH WILL THIS COST?
Registrars are charging approximately $280 for Sunrise A and $300 for Sunrise B.
WHAT IF I TAKE NO ACTION BY OCTOBER 28 BUT STILL WANT A NAME?
Purveyors of adult services who were not eligible for Sunrise A, can utilize a ’landrush’ period starting November 8. Everyone else can obtain a name when the public opening is in December.
WHAT IF I TAKE NO ACTION BY OCTOBER 28 BUT I STIL WANT TO STOP USE OF A NAME?
Failure to use a sunrise mechanism has not been held to constitute acquiescence or estoppel.
HOW DO I FILE A SUNRISE APPLICATION?
Most registrars, such as GoDaddy, are providing online forms. If you do not have a registrar, we can recommend one.
Andrew Ferracuti used to work for The Law Offices of Peter F. Ferracuti (pictured above). Now he’s opened the FERRACUTI LAW FIRM. Same region, same field of law. Peter Ferracuti sues. Two PI lawyers, no doubt related to each other, going at it. Plaintiff received a registration last week for THE LAW OFFICES OF PETER F. FERRACUTI, stating a date of first use of 1977.
There’s a lawyer named Martin Schwimmer who ran for congress in Palm Springs, I think, and a Martin Schwimmer who practices real estate law in Queens, both of whom are not me.
Plaintiff owns incontestable rights in THE BIGGEST LOSER. Defendant fitness club allegedly used the term in promoting its services.
Just a small number of the stalls at the Palika Market in Delhi.
Sound horn, because they can’t tell you’re there otherwise.
The market at Charimar. Those are three wheeled cabs.
There is a high demand for housing, satisfied in part by hostels seeking P.G.s or paying gents.
There is a modern part of Hyderabad, known as Hitec City. This is taken from the Westin Hotel, looking at, among other modern buildings, Deloitte’s headquarters. Microsoft, Google and other global companies have large presences here.
Free transport for girls to the technical school
In the tourism district.
In the book district, near Charimar.
Really, truly, cows in the streets.
The Eco-Friendly tyre.
An ad for infrastructure.
One last photo of a cow in Hyderabad.