December 10, 2018

| Print Page | Send to a Friend Home > Media Center

Published Tuesday, November 11, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Obama Issues Call for Internet Regulation

Institute for Liberty Responds: “A Glimpse of Things To Come?”

 

Washington, DC—Today, President Barack Obama asked the Federal Communications Commission to open yet another rulemaking on so-called “net neutrality,” asking the independent agency to essentially reclassify broadband communications under Title II of the Communications Act.  Institute for Liberty President Andrew Langer responded:

“This morning we saw the cynical political depths to which this Administration has sunk.  Coming less than a week after his party was trounced in the national mid-term elections, the President is attempting to rebuild the shambles of his coalition using his two favorite vehicles—overbroad executive action coupled with the worst kind of political doublespeak.  If this is a glimpse of what’s to come for the final years of the Obama administration, American consumers are in for a very rough ride indeed.

“What the President is after isn’t ‘net neutrality’ by any rational definition of the term.  What he wants to do is dismantle the very things that have made the internet a truly revolutionary and transformative invention, while putting the government in charge of determining how fast or slow consumer internet speeds are.  Consider how the net—how consumers interact with it and utilize it—has dramatically changed in the last five years, without the need for massive interference by the federal government.  Then imagine if that network were run like Amtrak, or our nation’s highways—no true high speed rail, and a network of roads under constant construction, with constant slow-downs.

“Internet service providers have one mandate, and one mandate alone: to provide the best service to customers at whatever level the consumer is willing to pay.  It’s a model that has served consumers remarkably well since the internet’s inception nearly two decades ago.  We will be urging the President, the FCC, and Congress: Keep Your Politics Out of OUR INTERNET!”

 

--30--

Contact the Institute for Liberty

Media@InstituteforLiberty.org

202-261-6592

more»
Published Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Today the Institute for Liberty’s President Andrew Langer released the following statement in response to reports that four journalists cooperated with the progressive Consumer for Responsible Lending in crafting messaging.

more»
Published Friday, September 19, 2014

Today, the Institute for Liberty submitted comments to the FCC on the ATSC mandate.

September 19, 2014

 

Hon. Julius Knapp, Chief

 

Office of Engineering and Technology

 

and

 

Hon. William Lake, Bureau Chief

 

Media Bureau

 

Federal Communications Commission

 

445 12TH ST SW

 

Washington. D.C. 20554

 

 

 

Dear Mr. Knapp and Mr. Lake:

 

As the summer comes to and an end many Americans families make the transition from convening around the patio and grill to gathering indoors back to their living rooms and televisions. Whether it’s the NFL or a seemingly endless selection television series and movies available in the press of a button or click of a mouse, there is no question that consumers have more choices than ever in what they choose to watch. And the way they receive the content is also coming from a more diverse set of providers. Gone are the days when antenna and cable are the only choices. A new influx of media available through the Internet provides consumers even more choices without having to pay a traditional cable bill.

 

However the ATSC license mandated by the FCC requires these consumers to pay a license fee built into the cost of their television whether or not they ever use it to receive a digital broadcast cable signal.

 

A growing number of people are eschewing traditional cable or satellite entirely, and are using broadband content services like Apple TV, Netflix or Roku to get entertainment streamed to them. Still others use them, quite literally, like a computer monitor, hooking up their desktop or laptop to them in order to watch YouTube or any of the Internet-available cable programming. Similarly the droves of college and professional sports fans that turn to satellite providers for their more robust coverage of their favorite events have no use for the ATSC license because the satellite signal is not reliant on the ATSC broadcast standard.

 

Because of the policies put in place during the Digital Transition of 2009, U.S. consumers are now paying what can essentially be considered a tax on every piece of equipment that contains a digital receiver, such as a modern cable box. This tax is basically the cost related to manufacturers paying the patent licensing fees mandated by your agency. The $5.00 per unit license fee may not seem like a lot, but as the price of televisions continue to drop, this tax makes up a larger percentage of the overall product cost. Making matters worse, a quarter of the individual patents within the ATSC standard have already expired, yet the license fee charged by MPEG LA remains unchanged. Similar licensing fees in Europe and Asia cost around $1.00. Under normal circumstances, the laws of supply and demand would push manufacturers toward a competing standard. However in this case, there are no alternatives due to the FCC granting monopoly power to MPEG LA, solidifying their ATSC pool as the only option for digital receivers.

 

The practice of including patent licenses in the cost of products is not in any way objectionable. Research and development costs are almost always included in the price of consumer goods. What is troubling about this case in particular is that the FCC is exclusively grating licensing privileges to the for-profit MPEG LA, who are abusing their position.  Consumers are left paying the inflated tab for a license filled with expired patents that many will never use because they don’t subscribe to broadcast cable.

 

Thank you for your consideration of this important issue and continued dedication to promoting policies that encourage innovation and fair competition that benefits consumers in the fast-evolving communications ecosystem.

 

Respectfully,

 

 

 

Andrew Langer, President

 

Institute for Liberty

 

 

 

CC:

 

 

 

Renee Gregory 

 

Legal Advisor to Chairman Wheeler

 

Office of Engineering and Technology, Wireless, and Incentive Auction

 

 

 

Maria Kirby 

 

Legal Advisor to Chairman Wheeler

 

Office of Media, Consumer and Governmental Affairs, and Enforcement

more»
Published Thursday, August 14, 2014

On July 30th, the Institute for Liberty submitted comments to the House Ways and Means Committee regarding their inquiry into issues surrounding global "patent trolls":

Chairman Devin Nunes

Subcommittee on Trade

House Ways and Means Committee

1102 Longworth House Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20515

 

July 30, 2014

 

Chairman Nunes:

 

The Institute for Liberty is a not-for-profit advocacy organization based here in Washington, DC, focusing on federal public policy.  Two of our areas of expertise are private property rights (including intellectual property rights), and global trade policy.  We believe in a rational, common-sense approach to trade (and the protection of intellectual property rights), and as such, appreciate the time you are taking to examine the U.S. trade agenda and our relationship and membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

 

Part and parcel of a rational, common-sense approach to trade policy is the recognition of the WTO’s important role in resolving disputes regarding international trade agreements. Further, we share the mission of seeking to reduce or unwieldy tariffs. But not all tariffs that harm free trade principles are simply affixed to the price of imports. Foreign countries like China, France, Japan, and Taiwan have taken an offensive footing into the intellectual property arena by erecting government-sponsored “patent trolls” (GSPTs) which raise the price of goods from would-be commercial competitors outside their borders. Further, it is our belief that WTO member states that control entities like these are likely in violation of numerous trade obligations under the WTO.

 

The offensive actions of GSPTs are akin to the protectionist industrial policies of many 19th-century regimes. Exacerbating the problem, because national governments are tasked with regulating intellectual property rights; GSPTs create a tremendous inherent conflict as the regulators and lawmakers then become the shareholders as well. Foreign governments cannot both be authoritarian regulatory agents and market actors at the same time. Otherwise, they are placed at an unfair advantage relative to their competitors, and become the very essence of crony capitalist states (or crony communist states).

 

Consider China’s Ruichuan IPR Funds, France Brevets, the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan, or Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute. These quasi-governmental/quasi-market actor entites are setting a dangerous precedent that could set off an international  “race to the bottom” which encourages other nations to either start their own GSPT or risk falling behind in a globalized marketplace. France Brevets has openly and proudly asserted that they will be using their acquired patents to the benefit of only companies within their borders, while taking offensive legal action exclusively against foreign companies.

 

In the past, Chairman Nunes, you have previously taken leadership by presenting draft legislation designed to reign in foreign abuse of the Tariff Act of 1930, 19 U.S.C. § 1337, known as “Section 337,” with particular focus on foreign entities which lack actual domestic industry through significant expenditures in plant, equipment, labor, or capital. GSPTs like those listed above serve as the epitome of these abuses. France Brevets and Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute have already taken infringement actions in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, which has a well-known reputation for siding with patent infringement plaintiffs (as we are certain you are well-aware, the Eastern District of Texas is the epicenter of America’s domestic patent troll problem, plaguing entrepreneurs throughout the nation).

 

Never has it been more imperative that the U.S. demonstrate vigilance in foreign trade policy and priorities, particularly in the face of protectionist foreign governments who choose to abuse the system on which we rely. We must push back against the cronyism of other nations. Foreign governments which fund and control GSPTs are colluding with their country’s corporate assets. This massive subsidization by nations who host GSPTs tips the scales of the free market and serves to undermine our nation’s economic interests and role in global trade

 

Thank you for the committee’s attention to these and other vital trade related concerns. If you have any questions or require additional information from the Institute for Liberty, do not hesitate to contact me at (202) 261-6592 or via email at Andrew.Langer@InstituteForLiberty.org .

 

Respectfully,

 

Andrew Langer, President

Institute for Liberty

more»
Published Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The LangerCast:  Episode 19!

 

 

more»
Published Wednesday, July 23, 2014

IFL President Andrew Langer had a new piece in the Washington Examiner on the hidden taxes on new TVs!

http://washingtonexaminer.com/tv-consumers-shouldnt-be-forced-to-pay-for-options-they-dont-use/article/2551147

By Andrew Langer

Recently, for the first time in more than seven years, I had occasion to buy a new television.

I was astounded at the sheer number of options that were available to me: Roku-capable, Wifi-ready, multiple HDMI inputs, USB access, etc. And I thought long and hard about which options I really wanted or needed, or what I thought I might need a few years down the road. I priced the TVs accordingly, and could clearly differentiate the price levels given what I felt I would need or use, even within class of similarly-sized TVs. As you can imagine, options that I wanted to include would cost more than some, but without options that I didn’t want, those TVs would cost less, and I eventually settled on the right TV.

What I didn't know at the time was that I was paying for an option that I simply wouldn't use -- that we're all paying for an option that very few of us use. It's something called “ATSC” -- the “Advanced Television Systems Committee<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATSC_Standards>” tuner, and it allows people to get broadcast digital signals. And we're not even really paying for the ATSC tuner, but for the licensing fee for the patent to that tuner.

Unlike all of the other options, this is mandatory in every TV sold in the United States. But very few of us use the option, and that number is shrinking every year.

It's very simple -- if you're like me, you use your TV essentially as a monitor to convey signals processed through some other piece of hardware. Most commonly, people use a cable box or satellite receiver, nowadays hooked up to one of your TV's HDMI ports, to get their TV stations. Of course, a growing number of people are eschewing traditional cable or satellite entirely, and are using broadband content services like Apple<http://washingtonexaminer.com/section/apple> TV, Netflix<http://washingtonexaminer.com/section/netflix> or Roku to get entertainment streamed to them. Still others use them, quite literally, like a computer monitor, hooking up their desktop or laptop to them in order to watch YouTube or any of the Internet-available cable programming (or the occasional old-school DVD).

Due to policies put in place during the “digital transition” in 2009, U.S. television equipment buyers are now paying what can essentially be considered a tax on every piece of equipment that contains a digital receiver, such as a modern cable box. This tax is basically the cost related to manufacturers paying the patent licensing fees that the Federal Communications Commission<http://washingtonexaminer.com/section/fcc>mandates. The costly yet required license in question is called ATSC -- licensed exclusively by the privately held, for-profit patent assertion entity known as MPEG LA.

The practice of including patent licenses in the cost of products is not unique. Research and development costs are almost always included in the price of consumer goods. What is unique about this case is that the FCC is requiring the licensing of this particular standard, one which MPEG LA is not exactly giving away for a reasonable price.

In fact, according to a petition filed with the FCC by the Coalition United to Terminate Financial Abuses of the Television Transition, the royalty rate is $5 per unit. That may not seem like a lot, but as the price of televisions continue to drop, this tax makes up a larger percentage of the overall product cost. Making matters worse, a quarter of the individual patents within the ATSC standard have already expired, yet the license fee charged by MPEG LA remains unchanged. Similar licensing fees in Europe<http://washingtonexaminer.com/section/europe> and Asia<http://washingtonexaminer.com/section/asia> cost around $1. Under normal circumstances, the laws of supply and demand would push manufacturers toward a competing standard. However in this case, there are no alternatives due to the FCC granting monopoly power to MPEG LA, solidifying their ATSC pool as the only option for digital receivers.

Now, $5 may not seem like a lot, but in the competitive marketplace of television sales, it actually can make the difference between two purchases that a consumer might make. I know from my own experience: We were looking at a handful of different TVs with slightly different options — for instance, choosing between a wifi-capable TV or one without it for a few dollars less (we chose the latter, since we can get streamed programming from either our Roku receiver or our Chromecast receiver). Had the next choice been between a TV with an ATSC tuner (and the commensurate $5 tax) and one without, I would have chosen the one without.

And that’s the most important thing, after all — the right of consumers to choose which options they feel they need. They certainly doesn’t need the federal government to make that choice for them, and have to pay $5 for the privilege.
Andrew Langer is president of The Institute for Liberty. Thinking of submitting an op-ed to the Washington Examiner? Be sure to read our guidelines on submissions for editorials, available at this link<http://washingtonexaminer.com/editorial-guidelines>.

 

 

 

more»
Items 49-56 of 199
The Institute For Liberty 1250 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 200 Washington, DC 20036 P: (202) 261-6592 F: (877) 350-6147