The battle lines are hardening in the controversy over the FCC’s proposal to deregulate cable set-top boxes.
The US Copyright Office recently weighed in against the proposal, on the grounds that it would undermine the ability of cable multi-system operators (MSOs) to enter into stable license agreements with copyright owners. This, the Copyright Office declared, would create a disincentive for the MSOs to pay for content, ultimately harming both creators and consumers. The copyright lobbying group Copyright Alliance promptly issued a statement in strong support of the Copyright Office, defending it against attacks from Public Knowledge and the Electronic Frontier Foundation that the Copyright Office is in the pocket of copyright owners at the expense of the general public.
FCC Chair Tom Wheeler, for his part, said at a press conference that he values the input of the Copyright Office, but that the FCC will fulfill its congressional mandate to ensure set-top box competition, while protecting copyright, privacy and network security.
As I’ve noted before, this is a complicated issue with both economic and policy issues on both sides. One can only hope that the FCC will undertake to balance these interests and promote a genuine compromise.