The Circuit: House copyright bill, Open Range, USF Reform

LEADING THE DAY: A House copyright bill introduced Wednesday, the Stop Online Piracy Act, is seen as a companion to the PROTECT IP Act in the Senate. It drew swift criticism from public advocacy groups who think it is too broad and could put individuals and companies at risk for writing about or linking to sites suspected of infringement, The Washington Post reported.

Hollywood media companies and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce praised the bill for targeting “rogue sites” that post counterfeit or pirated content.

Calls for Open Range investigation: Democrats have called for the House to expand its investigation into the Solyndra affair to include a look into Open Range, a company that aimed to bring high-speed internet to more communities. Open Range went bankrupt earlier this month, and was backed by $267 million in federal loans, starting with the Bush administration and continuing under President Obama.

Now taxpayers are on the hook for $74 million of those loans, The Washington Post reported.

On Wednesday, Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) asked that the House Energy and Commerce committee expand its probe into Solyndra to include Open Range.

FCC to vote on USF reform: The Federal Communications Commission is expected to vote Thursday on overhauling the Universal Service Fund at monthly meeting. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski announced his intention to overhaul the plan earlier this month, but was light on details.

Genachowski said that his plan would put $4.5 billion into funds that would bring wireless and wireline high-speed Internet connections into homes that don’t currently have access to those connections. It is not clear how much the chairman’s plan reflects the telecom industry’s own plan to reform the fund.

Sony to buy out Ericsson: Sony announced that it will buy out its mobile phone partner, Ericsson, in the companies’ joint venture, making it a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony Electronics. Ericsson will receive a 1.05 billion Euro payment (around $1.47 billion) from Sony as part of the deal.

Sony said in a statement that the deal will allow the company to “rapidly integrate smartphones”into its line of connected consumer devices such as tablets, televisions and PCs. Howard Stringer, Sony’s chairman, chief executive and president, said that the company’s entertainment network services will make it easy for consumers to enjoy a full range of multimedia on their smartphones.

Groupon will cut worst 10% of sales force: Groupon chief executive Andrew Mason reportedly told investors that he’s planning to replace the worst 10 percent of his sales force of approximately 4,800, Reuters said. The move comes as the online deals site prepares for its IPO, while facing questions about the viability of its business plan moving forward.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.

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