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House Judiciary Leaders Have Set-Top Issues

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler's "unlock the set-top" proposal as currently constituted is getting pushback from the Republican chair and Democratic ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee.

According to a copy of a letter to Wheeler, Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chair, and John Conyers (D-Mich.) said they wished to express "concern" that the proposal "could" boost theft of copyrighted works, something MVPDs and content creators have been saying.

Goodlatte and Conyers said that as members of the House Judiciary Committee, which oversees copyright issues, they recognized the potential harm from such theft and said content creators are legitimately worried that third-party devices could include pirated content apps like Popcorn Time.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association has made a point of pointing out that with control of how their content is presented, third parties could wed it to apps or services that offer pirated versions of the same content.

They did not say the FCC should abandon the rulemaking, but did ask that if it decided to continue that "legal copyrighted works not be harmed."

They said they would have their eye on the proposal to make sure it did not inhibit innovation or competition, or impose a "disproportionate burden" on smaller providers.

The American Cable Association has asked the FCC not to apply the proposal to smaller providers, period.