2015: The year of video, or of video regulation?

It’s still a bit early for 2014 retrospectives and 2015 predictions, but I’d like to offer an initial forecast for the year to come: it will be the year in which video regulation catches up, or at least tries to, with the changing video marketplace. I’m both optimistic and fearful about what this year of regulatory change will bring. Things will go well if regulators remember this one point: we have never regulated video for the sake of regulating video. However, I pessimistically expect that regulators will approach video as a thing that must be regulated, without concern for underlying justifications. The past year has seen many long-simmering issues in the video marketplace come to a boil. On the law and regulatory side, we have seen the Supreme Court’s Aereo decision, multiple pieces of proposed video legislation, the FCC’s forthcoming Online Video NPRM, and the importance of online video in the net neutrality debate.

Google in the EU: A victim of its own success

Google has been under antitrust scrutiny from the European Commission for some time. Last month, the EU parliament voted for the commission to continue its investigation of Google’s practices, including the charge that it abuses its dominant position in the search market. It comes as little surprise that some of the 28 EU member nations take issue with Google. The company possesses 90% market share for Internet search. It invoices its European customers from Ireland to avoid local taxation and reporting procedures, a practice that is legal but not wholly transparent. Its products are built on practices that challenge European notions of privacy, transparency, non-discrimination, interoperability, and portability. And besides that, the company is American, not European.
SpectrumAuction by Shutterstock

The spectrum auctions: Mobile investment in a vise

What if you threw a spectrum auction and nobody came? That sounds like an absurd question as the seemingly endless AWS-3 auction grinds toward its 98th round of bidding, but stranger things have happened. Several factors could make the next auction - the spectrum incentive auction - much less productive for the treasury and for the broadcasters who currently own the licenses that the auction is supposed to reassign in 2016.
SupremeCourt by Shutterstock

Go ask Alice: Uncertainty dogs patent applicants in wake of key Supreme Court decision

Last summer, the US Supreme Court issued a much-anticipated opinion about “patent eligibility,” i.e., what types of subject matter can and cannot be patented. At the time, I noted in this space that the decision, known as Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank, “advances the law only incrementally and raises at least as many questions as it answers.” Little did I know then how right I was: applicants for software-related patents have had a devil of a time before the Patent Office. But before I go on patting myself on the back, some context is required. Under longstanding law, natural phenomena, abstract ideas, and laws of nature are not patent-eligible. If Pythagoras were around today, for instance, he wouldn’t be able to receive a patent for his ingenious method of computing the length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle based solely on the known lengths of the two other sides.