By Emily Hootkins
FTC Proposes ‘Do Not Track’ System for the Web
CNET reports that the Federal Trade Commission is endorsing a “Do Not Track” mechanism for the web, reminiscent of its popular “Do Not Call” list. David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, envisions the concept as “a setting similar to a persistent cookie” that would signal whether the consumer is willing to be tracked or receive targeted advertisements. PC Magazine highlights some potential technical difficulties of such a proposal, such as the absence of a persistent, individualized identifier: unlike telephone numbers, a person’s IP address can change, and computers are often operated by multiple users. The FTC is currently asking stakeholders to submit comments on this proposal.
Federal Authorities Drop Charges in Xbox-Modding Suit
PCWorld reports that the first criminal trial for game-console modding has been dismissed. The prosecution dropped the case “based on fairness and justice,” after conceding its error in not disclosing to the defense important facts that would be presented in the first witness’ testimony. As Wired reports, federal authorities charged Matthew Crippen with modifying Xboxes to enable them to play pirated games. Crippen was prosecuted under untested provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act; it remains to be seen whether the government will make another attempt at pursuing criminal charges for game-console modding.
Congress Approves Legislation to Regulate Sound Volume of Television Advertisements
The Wall Street Journal reports that Congress has approved legislation prohibiting television advertisements from being played at volumes louder than regular television programming. The bill, known as the Commercial Advertising Loudness Migration (CALM) Act, will require advertisers to adopt industry technology that modulates sound levels. Ars Technica notes that loud commercials are consistently one of the most common consumer FCC complaints about television. If President Obama signs the bill into law, advertisers will have one year to come into compliance with the Act.
Senate Judiciary Committee Passes Fashion Design Protection Bill
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Senate Judiciary Committee has unanimously passed the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prohibition Act. If enacted, this bill will give clothing designers intellectual property rights in their fashion designs. The bill provides a three-year term of protection for designs that demonstrate novelty and originality. According to Reuters, the bill contains important exceptions that address controversial aspects of previous bills providing for fashion copyrights. There is an “independent creation” defense, which a designer can assert if an independently-created design happens to overlap with a copyrighted design. The bill also includes a home sewing exception, and establishes a strict standard that requires designs to be “substantially identical” to support claims of infringement.