Two Streams

By Chris Nolan  |  Posted 2004-11-10 Print this article Print

The high-tech argument against legislation such as the "Induce Act"—which could make it a crime to permit someone to copy or file share—isnt one thats quickly grasped by those unfamiliar with the technology or the law. And that description, much to techs annoyance, covers most senators and their staffs. "Hes going to be caught between two streams," one lobbyist who works against Hollywood says of Specter. "The property rights stuff on the one hand and the desire of some of his colleagues to champion consumer rights on the other." The clubby Senate is where tech has been able to slow the passage of bills such as the "Induce Act," officially called the Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act of 2004. Such legislation usually passes quickly through the House of Representatives, making the Judiciary Committee job more important this year.
If Specter doesnt get the job, a less experienced Judiciary Committee chairman might also spell trouble for tech. Hollywood is rich, powerful and popular, and it makes an argument—the protection of property—that has strong appeal for business-oriented Republicans. "I dont think [Specters] going to have a big consensus in favor of getting anything done," says the lobbyist.
Thats copyright. What about that other hot tech topic, expensing stock options? Well, the TechNet folks were right when they said the Federal Accounting Standards Board had gotten the message and wouldnt be coming down as hard or as fast on companies that didnt want to expense options. FASB said in September that it would put off enforcement of the expensing requirement for six months. That gives tech some breathing room, which is exactly what tech entrepreneurs and venture capitalists were looking for on Capitol Hill. It sounds strange—all of that noise and protest, and no law was passed—but sometimes such demonstrations, particularly before Congress, have just such an impact. The outcome isnt exactly what was sought, but its good enough for now. And since tax reform is high on the Bush administrations agenda for the coming year, a six-month breather may be all thats necessary. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis of technologys impact on government and politics.

Standalone journalist Chris Nolan runs 'Politics from Left to Right,' a political Web site at that focuses on the intersection of politics, technology and business issues in San Francisco, in California and on the national scene.

Nolan's work is well-known to tech-savvy readers. Her weekly syndicated column, 'Talk is Cheap,' appeared in The New York Post, Upside, and other publications. Debuting in 1997 at the beginnings of the Internet stock boom, it covered a wide variety of topics and was well regarded for its humor, insight and news value.

Nolan has led her peers in breaking important stories. Her reporting on Silicon Valley banker Frank Quattrone was the first to uncover the now infamous 'friend of Frank' accounts and led, eventually, to Quattrone's conviction on obstruction of justice charges.

In addition to columns and Weblogging, Nolan's work has appeared in The Washington Post, The New Republic, Fortune, Business 2.0 and Condé, Nast Traveler, and she has spoken frequently on the impact of Weblogging on politics and journalism.

Before moving to San Francisco, Nolan, who has more than 20 years of reporting experience, wrote about politics and technology in Washington, D.C., for a series of television trade magazines. She holds a B.A. from Barnard College, Columbia University.


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