The Executive Branch of our federal government – is huge. Made up of many, many agencies, departments, commissions and boards. The Barack Obama Administration has, these last nigh eight years, put its many Leviathan arms to work expanding ever further the government’s reach.
The Constitution established three co-equal branches of government. A separation and balance of powers – in large part to rein in just this sort of thing. The Legislative (Congress) and Judicial (the courts) Branches are to assert their claims to their respective turf when the Executive intrudes upon it.
(We less government types have been more than a mite disappointed in these branches and their lack of Constitution-and-turf-protecting efforts. For years – and for decades.
Sometimes an Executive Branch agency is so overactive – another Executive Branch agency calls them on it.
So it now is with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s cable television set-top-box overreach:
“The U.S. Copyright Office has joined the list of parties expressing concerns with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s plan (for)…the leased set-top box market….(T)he Copyright Office voiced concerns that the FCC’s proposed rules to open up the pay-TV set-top market to third-party vendors like Apple and Google would interfere with programming deals and lessen copyright holders’ ability to properly license their content.”
The Copyright Office is concerned the FCC’s power grab will eviscerate copyright holders’ rights – which is exactly with what the Copyright Office concerns itself. It’s their turf.
When another department of your branch of government thinks your plan stinks on ice – just how from the path have you strayed?
But it ain’t just the Copyright Office – it’s joined “the list of parties expressing concern.” Whom, pray tell, is that? Well, for starters – us:
“The agency about to undermine our intellectual property rights right this go round is the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC…will prop up the dying set-top-box market so as to allow cronies like Google to have free access to copyrighted television content….Protecting that content is a huge deal for its creators – which is why they demand such stringent protections in the contracts they negotiate with cable companies.”
“The list of parties” indeed:
(At this point, I bet you can guess Google isn’t on “the list of parties.”)
Incidentally, this isn’t the first time the Obama Administration has chastised for overreach – the Obama Administration. It isn’t even the first time the chastise-ee – is the FCC.
When the FCC power grabbed the Internet with regulatory reclassification and Net Neutrality – it took turf that already belonged to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
“In November 2014, President Obama called on the FCC to reclassify broadband as a Title II common carrier service. The FCC’s subsequent 2015 Open Internet Order did so. As a result, the FTC’s jurisdiction over ISP (Internet Service Provider) practices may now be limited.”
Get that? The FCC didn’t think the FTC was regulating enough. So the FCC power grabbed from the FTC – so as to then over-regulate us even further.
And the FCC thus far appears to be flat-out ignoring the copyright experts at the Copyright Office – so as to execute yet another power grab.
When you’re a full panoply of agencies over-regulating this much, this frequently – you’re inevitably bound to bump into one another.
The FCC is so spastic – it’s the bull in the Executive china shop. It’s knocking over everyone’s everything.
And the aggrieved agencies – are pushing back. Fighting to keep intact their regulatory turf.
If only the Legislative and Judicial Branches were likewise so enthusiastically inclined.
This is a guest post by Seton Motley Founder and President of Less Government