Democrats’ 2009 legislative plan: Net neutrality, copyright rewrite

It might seem as though Congress has completely forgotten about net neutrality, a topic that has languished in legislative purgatory since mid-2006. But a Democratic aide said Jan. 14 that it’s likely to come back this year, along with potential alterations of digital copyright and patent law, CNET reports. Aaron Cooper, who serves as counsel to Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., in the Senate Judiciary Committee, said his boss is interested in pursuing performance rights and net neutrality legislation, a topic that could implicate copyright issues because of its relationship with file swapping. These subjects will likely arise as top committee issues along with patent reform, which is Leahy’s priority, Cooper said. Net neutrality legislation, which is "completely a judiciary issue," Cooper said, could also impact copyright holders, depending on how internet service providers are allowed to manage their networks. Cooper said the goal would be to "limit the amount of privacy [without] stepping over the line in having ISPs deciding what is lawful and what is not lawful." The judiciary committee is also likely to try to modernize statutory licensing laws, Cooper said. Statutory licenses allow copyrighted works to be used without the explicit permission of the owner.
The laws are currently "geared toward an analog world," Cooper said…

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