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Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt
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CDT’s Tech Policy Download
Welcome to the Center for Democracy & Technology’s Tech Policy Download, a twice-monthly update on developments in the Internet policy space. We’ll review recent activities on Capitol Hill and in statehouses, courts and federal agencies, paying particular attention to matters that impact the free and open Internet. If you’re getting this inaugural issue, it’s because you're already on one of our existing lists. For a link to unsubscribe, scroll down to the bottom. And with that out of the way, on to the Download……
A federal court has ruled that mobile phone carriers don’t need to pay copyright performance royalties for the ringtones that their customers legally download. ASCAP -- the performance rights organization -- had argued that when a ringtone plays in a public place, it constitutes a “public performance” that must be compensated. Earlier this year, CDT joined with EFF and Public Knowledge in urging the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to dismiss ASCAP’s strained argument. In its October 14 ruling, the court did just that , holding that both users and carriers are exempt from liability when a ringtone plays in public. The upshot being that you’re not infringing copyright and don’t have to send ASCAP a check just because your phone breaks into “Don’t Stop Believin’” while you’re walking down the street.
The US government agreed last month to loosen the sway it has long held over the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the private, non-profit body that oversees administration of the Internet's addressing system. In a new “Affirmation of Commitments” with the Department of Commerce, ICANN agreed to create international review teams to assess its work and the US withdrew from its role overseeing ICANN's procedures. We're pleased to see this reaffirmation of the bottom-up, private sector led model for governance of the domain names system. Some governments had sought to take more direct control over the ICANN process, something CDT strongly opposed. The big remaining questions of accountability are how to create a system for appealing the decisions of the ICANN board and by what standard should such appeals be judged. Check out our blog post for our take on ICANN’s future.