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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    icon
    silverscarcat (profile), Mar 12th, 2013 @ 6:02am

    Mike, you forget one thing...

    If Congress did something, their approval rating might go above 3%.

    Can't have that, now can we?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      gorehound (profile), Mar 12th, 2013 @ 8:14am

      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.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Mar 12th, 2013 @ 6:54am

    The system is "broken" in a way that benefits a few in power. There's no incentive to fix something that is broken to the overwhelming majority of the people if it benefits the power.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2013 @ 7:51am

    has Senator Leahy ever introduced a bill that is worth even the paper it is written on? he seems to me to be a total jerk and the people would do well to elect someone else to represent them. if he cant come up with an idea that is of substance, keep the fuck quiet!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 12th, 2013 @ 8:33am

      Re:

      has Senator Leahy ever introduced a bill that is worth even the paper it is written on?

      Yes, actually -- he has introduced a few good bills, including broad ECPA reform that would protect privacy. He also lead the push for patent reform, which did come up short, but some of his *initial* ideas would have been good before they got watered down.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2013 @ 7:58am

    HAHAHAHAHA US Congress actually doing something.... what were you thinking ??????......

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Mar 12th, 2013 @ 8:17am

    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!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2013 @ 8:19am

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

      Strange that a child would have to investigate childish games.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Colin, Mar 12th, 2013 @ 8:29am

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

      Your sig doesn't make sense grammatically. Please correct it. Thanks!

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Rikuo (profile), Mar 12th, 2013 @ 3:09pm

      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!

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2013 @ 8:17am

    What did you expect?

    You let politicians write anything and they will run in circles.

    If people want to see something fixed.

    Draft the fraking law and put it to the public, with public support demand that law to be passed or else.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Danny (profile), Mar 12th, 2013 @ 8:20am

    Tim Tebow is available

    Where I come from, if your team is always punting, it is time to get a new quarterback.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      silverscarcat (profile), Mar 12th, 2013 @ 8:47am

      Re: Tim Tebow is available

      Even Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Tom Brady, Brad Johnson, Joe Flacco, Bart Star, Steve Young, Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Warren Moon, Dan Marino, Fran Tarkington, and Aaron Rodgers all put together couldn't fix this team.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2013 @ 8:36am

    The We the People petition said "We ask that the White House ask the Librarian of Congress to rescind this decision, and failing that, champion a bill that makes unlocking permanently legal."

    It seems like a bill that rescinds the LOC's decision is exactly what 114,000 people asked for.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2013 @ 9:18am

      Re:

      So you need to work on your analysis. They didn't ask for a bill from congress to rescind the decision, they asked for a bill from congress to make unlocking permanent. Since the LoC said no to the white house, they should be providing a bill that legalizes unlocking.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2013 @ 8:41am

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Mr. Applegate, Mar 12th, 2013 @ 9:39am

    I give congress a 100% for all their hard work.

    A 100% FAILURE RATE!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Rocco Maglio, Mar 12th, 2013 @ 10:54am

      Re: I give congress a 100% for all their hard work.

      I give the president a fail for this. The librarian of Congress Reports to him. He is the one who can order him to change the rule.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2013 @ 9:59am

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2013 @ 10:26am

    So are any worth supporting?

    Is Chaffetz still planning on introducing one?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    johnny canada, Mar 12th, 2013 @ 10:48am

    Senator Leahy

    The fine Senator Leahy who represents Vermont, well his campaign contributions come mostly from Hollywood.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2013 @ 4:53pm

    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!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Mar 13th, 2013 @ 7:09am

    Gee!

    Gee! You'd think our Congress and Senate were corrupt! Nah! Who would think that... :rolleyes:

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    None, Jan 19th, 2014 @ 2:31am

    It's not right

    I think you can check this again man!! not cool. Buy a cell booster

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This