Welcome to the Tech & Telecom Weekly, an e-newsletter keeping you apprised of the latest developments in the telecommunications and high-tech industries.
The FCC seeks comment on whether any updates should be made to its rules implementing the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA), which was enacted to assist individuals with disabilities in using communications services and equipment. Parties are invited to provide comment on which of the Commission’s rules are meeting the objectives of the CVAA and which might need updating. Comments are due May 24, 2021, with reply comments due June 21, 2021. For more information, please contact Katherine Barker Marshall. (GC Docket No. 21-140, DA 21-405).
On April 8, 2021, the FCC announced that it has reviewed and accepted for filing 50 more 2.5 GHz spectrum license applications filed under the Rural Tribal Priority Window that closed in September 2020. To now, 216 total applications have been accepted for filing. Rural Tribal Priority Window licensees will have access to up to 117.5 MHz of spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band to offer Internet access services or to support 5G wireless services. The 2.5 GHz band is moving forward to a commercial auction of overlay licenses, subject to incumbent licensees and Tribal Priority Window licensees. Comments are now due in May on the rules for the 2.5 GHz auction. For more information, please contact Doug Bonner.
The FTC will hold a virtual workshop titled “Bringing Dark Patterns to Light: An FTC Workshop” on April 29, 2021, at 10:30am ET. Dark patterns are manipulative user interfaces that can have the effect of “obscuring, subverting, or impairing consumer autonomy, decision-making, or choice.” In advance of the workshop, the FTC is seeking comment on the prevalence, effectiveness, and harms of dark patterns as well as methods for preventing them. For more information, please contact Stephanie Joyce.
The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) will hold a webinar to introduce the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB) to the National Lifeline Verifier on April 13, 2021, at 3:00pm ET. Interested persons can register here.
USAC will hold its monthly Lifeline call on April 14, 2021, at 3:00pm ET. Interested persons can register here. During the one-hour call, USAC will provide updates about the Lifeline Program, the National Verifier, and the National Lifeline Accountability Database and will discuss upcoming compliance deadlines.
For more information about USAC programs, please contact Katherine Barker Marshall.
In the Courts
The U.S. Supreme Court has held that competitors may incorporate copyrighted Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) into their products under the Fair Use doctrine. On April 5, 2021, the high court found that Google did not infringe Oracle’s copyright in Java SE, reversing the Federal Circuit’s holding that Fair Use did not apply as a matter of law. A 6-2 court, with Justice Barrett abstaining, began from the assumption that the APIs were copyrightable, focusing on Fair Use as a mixed question of law and fact. It decided that the nature and purpose of APIs – encouraging development of interoperable applications – renders them amenable to fair use and that Google’s copying 37 packages of Java API (0.4% of Java code) qualified as fair use. Google LLC v. Oracle America, LLC, No. 18-956. For more information, please contact Stephanie Joyce.
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