Smith gives FCC ‘fair’ warning

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Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Courts, the
Internet and Intellectual Property, gave the Federal Communications Commission a
gentle reminder Monday of his committee's jurisdiction over copyright issues and
its interest in protecting fair use.

Referring to the FCC's proposed rulemaking on the broadcast-flag technology
to protect digital broadcasts from illegal copying, Smith said, "It is important
that the transition to DTV and any implementation of rules requiring the use of
the broadcast flag does not have an adverse affect on how consumers may
legitimately use lawfully acquired entertainment products."

Saying that the commission "might issue rules that impact the Copyright Act
and involve my subcommittee's jurisdiction" and noting that there were some FCC
staffers in the room -- attending a Media Institute lunch -- Smith added, "I
appreciate their recognition of our jurisdiction in future actions."

Media Burea chief Ken Ferree, one of the FCC types in attendance, said
afterward that the agency indeed recognized the committee's purview.

Smith also said his committee has begun work on an Intellectual Property
Crime Index, using information from the private sector to track statistics on
intellectual-property crimes.

The subcommittee already gets data from the Department of Justice, but Smith said that information is confusing and often "inaccurately reflects the
actual crime rates."

Smith also said he is talking with the DOJ about updating the reporting system
for intellectual-property prosecutions.