This Week in Washington IP: House Judiciary Committee to Review Copyright Office Section 512 Report, Senate Committees Consider Copyright Small Claims Proposal and Subpoenas for Big Tech CEOs

This week in Washington IP events, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing at noon on Wednesday to explore the findings of the Copyright Office’s report on Section 512’s safe harbor provisions under the DMCA, released this May. Over in the Senate, the Senate Commerce Committee will discuss authorizing a series of subpoenas for big tech CEOs at Google, Facebook and Twitter, while the Senate Judiciary Committee will discuss a proposed bill to create a framework for alternative dispute resolution of copyright small claims. Elsewhere, New America will focus on the ways that national governments have splintered the worldwide web, while the Center for Strategic & International Studies will explore advances in low-carbon fuels for the transportation sector. 

Tuesday, September 29 

House Task Force on Financial Technology 

License to Bank: Examining the Legal Framework Governing Who Can Lend and Process Payments in the Fintech Age

At 12:00 PM on Tuesday, online video webinar.

In recent years, technology companies have increasingly offered financial services which allow platform users to transmit money to friends and family. U.S. consumers have increasingly turned to such fintech platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic, when access to traditional banking and money payment services has been hampered by efforts to maintain social distancing. This hearing will explore the existing legal framework for tech companies offering payment processing services and the level of safeguards for consumer protection and financial stability. The witness panel for this hearing will include Raúl Carrillo, Policy Counsel, Demand Progress Education Fund, and Fellow, Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund; Everett K. Sands, CEO, Lendistry; Arthur E. Wilmarth, Jr., Professor Emeritus of Law, George Washington University Law School; and Brian Knight, Director, Innovation and Governance Program, Mercatus Center.

Wednesday, September 30

Center for Strategic & International Studies 

Innovation in Transportation Fuels

At 9:00 AM on Wednesday, online video webinar.

The transportation sector accounts for about 28 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., the single largest contributor of such emissions among any industry sector in our nation. This event, hosted by CSIS’s Energy Security and Climate Change Program, will feature a keynote address on advances in low-carbon fuels for the transportation sector by Daniel Simmons, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy. Following this address will be a discussion on the innovation chain for low-carbon fuels from basic research to commercialization with a panel including John Farrell, Laboratory Program Manager, Vehicle Technologies, NREL; Bruno Miller, Managing Director of Fuels and Regulatory Affairs, Fulcrum Bioenergy; Matthew Blieske, Global Head of Projects, Shell Hydrogen; and moderated by Nikos Tsafos, Senior Fellow, Energy Security and Climate Change Program.

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation 

NASA Mission and Programs: Update and Future Plans

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday in 253 Russell Senate Office Building.

Recent years have seen efforts to reinvigorate NASA programs aimed at manned exploration of our solar system and NASA’s Artemis program is focused on returning American boots to the lunar surface for the first time since 1972. In late September, the space agency issued an updated overview of the Artemis lunar exploration program, discussing $28 billion in funding that would be used to send Americans, including the first American woman, to the moon by 2024. The sole witness for this hearing will be the Honorable Jim Bridenstine, Administrator, NASA.

House Committee on the Judiciary

Copyright and the Internet in 2020: Reactions to the Copyright Office’s Report on the Efficacy of 17 U.S.C. § 512 After Two Decades

At 12:00 PM on Wednesday in 2141 Rayburn House Office Building.

This May, the U.S. Copyright Office published the findings of the agency’s study into the impacts of the safe harbor provisions in Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) limiting liability for Internet service providers on acts of copyright infringement committed by their subscribers. The report suggested that Congress fine-tune various aspects of Section 512 to improve protections for rights holders, suggestions that could be proposed in the coming months thanks to efforts to modernize the DMCA more than two decades after it was enacted in 1998. The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.

The Hudson Institute

Strengthening U.S. Manufacturing: Spurring Innovation

At 12:00 PM on Wednesday, online video webinar.

U.S. federal policymakers often explore issues in the nation’s manufacturing sector but some pundits suggest that the country could do much more to support the manufacturing industry’s innovative base and increase funding for R&D initiatives that could improve productivity in many U.S. factories. This event, hosted by Hudson Institute’s Manufacturing Policy Initiative, will discuss ways that the U.S. can improve its competitiveness in manufacturing with a panel including Stephen Ezell, Director of Global Innovation Policy, Information Technology & Innovation Foundation; Taffy Kingscott, Vice President, Strategic Partnerships, IBM Research; Ralph Gomory, Former President, Sloan Foundation; John Neuffer, President and CEO, Semiconductor Industry Association; and moderated by Gil Kaplen, Former Under Secretary of Commerce, U.S. Department of Commerce, and Senior Fellow, Manufacturing Policy Initiative.

New America

Free Speech Project: So Long Internet, Hello Internets

At 12:00 PM on Wednesday, online video webinar.

The advent of the Internet a few decades ago led many to believe that a worldwide web would connect the human race across every corner of the globe. Since that time, however, national governments have found ways of controlling Internet access among their citizens, subdividing the Internet and keeping the online world far more opaque than first envisioned. This event, hosted by Future Tense and New America’s Open Technology Institute, will feature a discussion with a panel including Anne-Marie Slaughter, CEO, New America, and Author, The Chessboard and the Web: Strategies of Connection in a Networked World; Rebecca MacKinnon, Director, Ranking Digital Rights; Madhulika Srikumar, 2019 India-U.S. Fellow, New America; and moderated by Joshua Keating, Senior Editor, Slate.

New America 

COVID, Tech and Local Government

At 2:00 PM on Wednesday, online video webinar.

Governments at every level have been greatly strained during the COVID-19 pandemic and have needed to turn to technological platforms in order to connect many of its constituents to essential services. Members of New America’s Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN), who have been working with municipal governments to improve their technological resiliency during the pandemic, will share at this event what they’ve learned about improving responsiveness and transparency in many major communities including New York City, Pittsburgh, Austin and Los Angeles. This event will feature a discussion with Andrea Christelle, Ph.D, Good Systems Network Relationship Manager, The University of Texas at Austin; James Featherstone, Executive Director, Homeland Security Advisory Council, and Adjunct Faculty, Pepperdine University School of Public Policy; Rayid Ghani, Distinguished Career Professor, Machine Learning Department, Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University; and moderated by Pete Peterson, Braun Family Dean, School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University, and Senior Fellow, Davenport Institute for Public Engagement.

Thursday, October 1 

Senate Committee on the Judiciary

Executive Business Meeting

At 10:00 AM on Thursday in 325 Russell.

On Thursday morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee will convene an executive business meeting to discuss a series of judicial nominations as well as a legislative proposal related to copyright law. S. 4632, which would amend Title 17 of U.S. Code to create an alternative dispute resolution program for copyright small claims, was introduced onto the floor of the Senate on September 21 by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation 

Executive Session

At 10:00 AM on Thursday in 106 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

On Thursday morning, the Senate Commerce Committee will convene an executive session to consider the authorization of a series of subpoenas that would require a trio of big tech CEOs to attend as witness at a Congressional hearing: Jack Dorsey, CEO, Twitter; Sundar Pichai, CEO, Alphabet Inc., Google; and Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook. According to advance coverage of this executive session, the Senate Commerce Committee intends to subpoena the CEOs to ensure their participation in a hearing regarding issues related to limited liability provisions for online platforms under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. 

House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law 

Proposals to Strengthen the Antitrust Laws and Restore Competition Online

At 12:00 PM on Thursday in 2141 Rayburn.

The administration of President Donald Trump has grown much more interested in increasing liability for online platforms because of their outsized impact on consumer interactions. Just last week, the U.S. Department of Justice unveiled proposed amendments to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which would disable the liability shield in that statute for platforms engaging in censorship or hosting criminal content. The DoJ is also expected to file an antitrust lawsuit against Internet services giant Google in the coming weeks. The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.

The Brookings Institution 

Could Ratings Systems Encourage Responsible AI?

At 2:00 PM on Thursday, online video webinar.

Recent months have seen a number of policy institute events and even Congressional hearings on the subject of artificial intelligence and the potential negative impacts it could have in programming certain biases into various systems in ways that further malign underprivileged communities. In some countries, including Germany, efforts have been taken to create classification systems for AI technologies to categorize certain high-risk sectors for policymakers so that they can more fully consider negative impacts to the environment, healthcare and consumer welfare. This event, hosting by Brookings Institution’s Center for Technology Innovation, will explore ways to improve consumer trust in AI with a panel including Mark MacCarthy, Adjunct Faculty, Communication, Culture and Technology, Georgetown University; Frida Polli, CEO and Cofounder, pymetrics; Elham Tabassi, Chief of Staff, Information Technology Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology; John Villasenor, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, Center for Technology Innovation; and moderated by Nicol Turner Lee, Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, and Director, Center for Technology Innovation.

Friday, October 2 

Information Technology & Innovation Foundation

Book Talk on “Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto,” With Julia Lane

At 12:00 PM on Friday, online video webinar.

Government entities have increasingly embraced electronic data systems to easily process registrations, benefits applications and many other bureaucratic activities. However, the use of outdated systems and opaque data practices can be highly damaging to the public good. This event, hosted by ITIF’s Center for Data Innovation, features a discussion with Julia Lane, Professor, NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and Author, Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto; and moderated by Daniel Castro, Vice President, ITIF, and Director, Center for Data Innovation.


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