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Court Provides Ground Rules For BitTorrent Argument

D.C. Federal Appeals Court has slated Comcast's
appeal of the FCC BitTorrent decision as the third of three cases to be heard
Jan. 8.

According to Comcast, each side has been given 25 minutes, actually a lot of
time as these arguments go, which could indicate particular interest in the

It also means the arguments could have time to extend even beyond those times,
at the judges' discretion, since there is no case after it.

The FCC found back in summer 2008 that Comcast violated its Internet
open-access guidelines by blocking BitTorrent peer-to-peer traffic.

Comcast took the FCC to court over the decision, challenging the legal
underpinnings as well as the findings that Comcast was in violation, which it
said "were not justified by the record."

Comcast told the D.C. court in a brief that the FCC's BitTorrent decision was
hardly modest (as the FCC claims), was done without the requisite notice, and
was unenforceable.

Comcast was responding to the FCC'sargument in the commission's brief to the court  that the FCC had the authority to take action
against Comcast for "covertly interfering" with BitTorrent
peer-to-peer traffic in violation of Internet openness principles--and doing so
in an adjudicatory proceeding rather than a rulemaking.

Comcastargues that the FCC violated "basic rules of fair notice" because
the conduct it targeted--reducing peer-to-peer traffic on the network--did not
violate any FCC rules.

The FCC had open access guidelines, but not enforceable rules, a distinction
the FCC is looking to erase with its proposed network neutrality rules
expanding and codifying those principles.