Latest Congressional Attempt To 'Fix' Mobile Phone Unlocking Just Punts The Issue Until Later

from the not-a-good-idea dept

Ah, Congress. Even when they’re doing something, they’re good at not really accomplishing much. We’ve already written about some various proposals on Capitol Hill to respond to the White House’s request for Congress to make phone unlocking legal, contrary to the Librarian of Congress’ decision to remove it from DMCA exemptions. So far, as we noted, all of the bills really failed to tackle the real issue, and some were just poorly thought out entirely. At the end of that piece, we noted rumors that Rep. Goodlatte was introducing a bill. Late Monday, Senator Leahy (with Senators Grassley, Franken and Hatch) introduced his bill and it’s believed to be the same one that Goodlatte is likely to push in the House. Since Leahy and Goodlatte lead the Judiciary Committees in the Senate and the House, it has to be assumed that this bill has the pole position in being the one likely to get traction.

If so, it’s a disaster. It does nothing to fix the problem. Worse, it just kicks the can down the road in the hopes that people will forget about it. Here’s what it does:

  1. It tells the Librarian of Congress to “repeal” the existing failure to exempt phone unlocking and replace it with the exemption that was put in place back in the last rulemaking in 2010 (which was a weaker unlocking rule than the one before it). That “new” / “old” ruling will stick around until the next rulemaking in 2015 when the Librarian might decide to dump it again.
  2. Within one year, the Librarian of Congress, with the help of the Register of Copyrights, is supposed to determine whether or not to extend the exemption further to things like tablets (as requested by the White House).
  3. It explicitly states that nothing in the bill changes anything of importance.

In other words, “oh, gosh, someone noticed how totally screwed up the system is, and how the walls are crumbling, and let’s just patch up this one little hole here with a bit of spackle.” This is not a solution. This is a total punt by Congress. The other bills proposed so far have been bad, but this is worse.

Congress has a real chance to fix something here, but so far has chosen not to actually take a position of leadership and do anything. How typical.

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Comments on “Latest Congressional Attempt To 'Fix' Mobile Phone Unlocking Just Punts The Issue Until Later”

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26 Comments
gorehound (profile) says:

Re: Mike, you forget one thing...

We must never forget that Leahy is a scumbag when it comes to the Internet.He Supported Draconian Legislation which would of screwed all of us over.
I have no Respect for him.And of course these Politicians do not deal with the real Issue.
The Stupid Sheeple will all drink this kool-aid and the intelligent people will know that once again we have seen the true face of the Politician.

out_of_the_blue says:

Here's a curious point: purpose of a "punt" isn't defined!

“This is a total punt by Congress.”

For once Mike’s usage isn’t wrong; it’s just that in checking my vague knowledge of childish games I tried to find the purpose of punting, and it’s at best not readily defined! “Punt” is defined as the act of kicking (or a small boat and a few more obscure uses), but everyone uses it for the implied purpose — which as I recall, is to get rid of the ball so don’t lose ground (in American football, not that there’s any other kind).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punt

That’s all I could find of interest here. But at least it’s not Prenda Law.

Take a loopy tour of Techdirt.com! You always end up at same place!
http://techdirt.com/
Gosh, don’t ya just wanna peek ahead at the next exciting re-write? — Well, you can see Mike’s queue if PAY for the privilege!

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Here's a curious point: purpose of a "punt" isn't defined!

So you admit Mike isn’t wrong about something (somebody stop the presses!) but then gabble on about some random word.
Oh and now you’re snarking on his business model? It works. I WANT to pay Mike. I pay him what I determine to be a fair price for what I get in return. He has succeeded at what he preaches – CwF +RtB, with me and others.

And again, if you’re so sick of the Prenda Law articles, then STOP FUCKING READING THEM!

Anonymous Coward says:

Just a first impression, but I have substantial questions concerning the authority of Congress to amend rules lawfully crafted by the Executive under a then existing statute.

As for the decision by the Copyright Office relating to “unlocking”, it must be borne in mind that decisions such as it must be based upon an evidentiary record before the Copyright Office. The key requirement is, of course, “evidence”, as is precisely the case before a court of law. While many obviously disagree with the decision (even the Copyright Office is sensitive to the issue), disagreement is not “evidence”. Opponents were afforded the opportunity to present countervailing evidence. The Copyright Office has noted that such evidence was not forthcoming, or if so was clearly lacking in substance sufficient to continue the exemption.

Anonymous Coward says:

Spackle is soooo old-school

“… the walls are crumbling, and let’s just patch up this one little hole here with a bit of spackle.”

Due to intellectual budget constraints, the Official Crumbling-Wall Patching Compound of Congress is no longer spackle, but an off-brand cinnamon-flavoured toothpaste that nobody has ever heard of before. The same budget constraints dictate that any patches filled with said compound be left in unpainted condition.

Anonymous Coward says:

Wait a second...

You mean they didn’t make things worse?!
Could it be? After all these years of being an international laughingstock, has the US Congress somehow finally improved to the point where they’re merely pathetic?
Let’s keep our fingers crossed! Who knows? If by some twist of fate this becomes a trend, maybe at some point in the distant future Congress might become mediocre!

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