Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

In this edition of The Week in Tech Policy, we have stories on the Apple v. Samsung case, Washington Monthly’s 2012 list of top universities, mobile phone text donations and more.

Federal Aviation Administration to consider overhaul of in-flight rules for electronic devices. Frustrated you can’t use your wireless device’s cellular connection to the Internet while on a long cross-country flight? Then you’ll be relieved to know that the FAA plans to “convene a working group that will reevaluate the current regulations concerning the use of personal electronic devices on airplanes,” according to this recent report in CIO, among others. However, if you were hoping to make voice calls while in flight, prepare the be disappointed. ZDNet reports the working group won’t be considering changing the rules regarding voice calls.

Injunction against ivi TV service upheld. The Internet has been a disruptive force across many industries, especially the broadcast, film and recording industries. Now, a federal appeals court has upheld an injunction against pay TV streaming service ivi, according to various reports. “Several broadcasters and TV networks, including ABC, NBCUniversal and Univision, sued ivi for copyright infringement in 2010 for streaming its programming live online without their permission. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted them a preliminary injunction against ivi in February 2011,” Hillicon Valley recently reported. “According to the Copyright Act, cable systems are allowed to retransmit signals of copyrighted TV programming to subscribers, but for a royalty fee.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals noted that the Copyright Office had previously decided that Internet retransmission services are not cable systems and therefore not eligible for a compulsory license, which lets cable systems skip negotiating individual programming licenses with copyright owners. Congress had also not intended for compulsory licenses to be extended to Internet retransmission services like ivi, the court said.”

The Apple v. Samsung case. The verdict in the Apple v. Samsung case was one of the biggest stories in all of technology last week, resulting in massive amounts of news coverage all over the world. In this Aug. 28 piece in The Wall Street Journal, Holman W. Jenkins Jr. opined, “if Friday's jury decision finding that Samsung infringed Apple's iPhone patents means anything, it means there's still plenty of scope to compete with Apple in smartphones, with devices that do all the things Apple has shown smartphones must do. It also means it's neither necessary nor acceptable blatantly to rip off the iPhone.”

From the Washington Monthly: Top universities of 2012. The technology industry has a huge stake in the success of the U.S. education system at all levels, including post-secondary institutions. Earlier this month, Washington Monthly published its 2012 national university rankings, which “rates schools in three broad categories: Social Mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students), Research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and PhDs), and Service (encouraging students to give something back to their country),” according to this Aug. 27 post on the University of Washington’s Office of Planning & Budgeting OPBlog. The report contained good news for UW, which “ranks 8th in the nation among national universities, while UC San Diego, Texas A&M and Stanford take the top three spots. This represents a huge jump for the UW, from 23rd in 2010 to 16th in 2011, and now to 8th place, achieved amidst severe budget cuts.”

On mobile app privacy. Privacy advocates and other stakeholders continue to struggle to find common ground on mobile app privacy, according to this Aug. 29 report in the National Journal’s Tech Daily Dose Blog. “The latest meeting hosted by the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration once again focused on where to begin actual discussions on developing an industry code of conduct for mobile apps transparency. The code is part of a larger effort proposed by the Obama administration aimed at improving online privacy for consumers by encouraging companies, privacy advocates and other stakeholders to develop industry codes of conduct,” Tech Daily Dose writer Juliana Gruenwald reported. “The first proposed code is focused narrowly on providing more transparency in what information developers and sellers of mobile apps are collecting from users and how they are using that data.”

CTIA – The Wireless Association releases text donation guidelines. On Aug. 29, CTIA published its “Guidelines for Federal Political Campaign Contributions via Wireless Carrier’s Bill” to provide a framework for federal candidates to conduct political fundraising campaigns via text message. The Guidelines summarize several recent Advisory Opinions issued by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that prescribe the circumstances when such fundraising activity is permissible.” More detail is available in this press release from on the CTIA website.

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