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Digital rights groups protest US ruling to block digital transmissions

Grant Gross | April 13, 2015
A decision by a U.S. government agency prohibiting the transmission of 3D dental records into the U.S. could open the door to further content restrictions on the Internet, digital rights groups have said.

The MPAA filed a brief in support of the USITC's decision, saying its authority to issue cease-and-desist orders should apply to digital, as well as physical, goods. Infringement is "shifting to downloadable formats," the USITC said, reflecting the MPAA's opinion filed in the ClearCorrect case.

Last month, Align and the USITC filed briefs to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, where the agency's ClearCorrect ruling is now under appeal. Align accused ClearCorrect of infringing seven dental imaging-related patents, and the agency found ClearCorrect infringed six of them.

While Align and the USITC argue the agency's asserted authority over digital goods would have a "minimal" impact on the Internet, they ignore the MPAA's argument that "took a precisely contradictory position," said Charles Duan, director of the Patent Reform Project at Public Knowledge.

The MPAA memo "turned what was initially a hypothetical concern into an actual threat to the Internet," he added by email.

The MPAA believes Congress has given the USITC "broad authority" to protect U.S. industries from unfair acts, including copyright infringement, the trade group said in a statement. "Undercutting the ITC's jurisdiction in this area will hurt the rapid growth of domestic and international marketplaces for distributing content digitally, and ultimately undermine the commission's mandate to protect American businesses," the MPAA added.

 

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