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Timothy B. Lee

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Andrea Peterson

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government. She also delves into the societal impacts of technology access and how innovation is intertwined with cultural development.

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Posted at 12:56 PM ET, 04/20/2012

The Circuit: YouTube loses copyright battle, bill shock, Sprint Nextel

German court rules against YouTube: A German court has ruled that YouTube bears responsibility for content on its site that infringes on copyrights, the Associated Press reported. The court would like the site to put filters in place to prevent users from uploading clips of songs owned by the German industry music group GEMA.

According to the report, YouTube could be required to pay royalties on the clips uploaded by its users.

In a statement, YouTube said that the ruling confirms that hosting platforms can’t be obliged to control the content of all their videos. The company argued that the ruling could slow down the rate at which users upload video to the site, since each clip would have to be screened for infringement.

“It would jeopardize not only YouTube but every other innovative service on the Internet that allows users to submit content by forcing them to implement filtering,” the company said in a statement.

YouTube currently responds to copyright concerns by taking down questionable content upon receiving a complaint.

Bill shock: The Federal Communications Commission has set up a Web site that tracks how carriers are following up on their promises to notify consumers about data use.

The site uses data from the CTIA. According to the FCC, 30 million Americans have experienced bill shock.

“Last October, we were pleased that CTIA-The Wireless Association and Consumers Union joined us to announce new commitments to provide free alerts to consumers before they approach limits and incur fees.  We also promised an online resource with information about when carriers begin providing these alerts.  Today, we deliver on that promise,” said FCC chairman Julius Genachowski in a statement Thursday.

SprintNextel accused of tax evasion: The attorney general of New York claimed Thursday that Sprint-Nextel had deliberately undercollected $100 million in consumer sales taxes as part of an effort to keep its prices down, the Associated Press reported.

“Sprint cost state and local governments over $100 million that could have been used for critical services and much needed resources that our state and its citizens need given the challenging economic times we are in,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in a statement.

At issue is the attorney general’s contention that all of Sprint’s services have to be taxed as one package; Sprint, since 2005, has been paying no sales tax on interstate phone calls.

In a statement of its own, Sprint said that the complaint is without merit: “We have collected and paid over to New York every penny of sales taxes on mobile wireless services that we believe our customers owe under New York state law. ... We intend to stand up for New York consumers' rights and fight this suit.”

Verizon, Microsoft earnings: Verizon said in an earnings call Thursday that it had seen a drop in new customers, but still posted a profit of $1.7 billion for the quarter. The iPhone sold well, but the company said that it will also be making a heavy push for Windows Phones in the coming months.

Microsoft also reported earnings Thursday, beating estimates thanks to an increase of software sales.Growth was strongest in the enterprise market — even Microsoft’s consumer powerhouse, the Xbox, saw lower sales — which boosted the company to a six percent revenue increase of $17.4 billion.

TV hearing witnesses: The Senate Commerce Committee named its witnesses for a hearing on the future of television. Witnesses are IAC’s Barry Diller, Amazon’s Paul Misener, Susan Whiting of Neilsen and Blair Westlake of Microsoft.

The hearing will take place on April 24.

Several online companies, including Netflix and Hulu have announced they will begin producing new original programs for the Web this season.

By  |  12:56 PM ET, 04/20/2012

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