In a recent article, Washington Post technology reporter Timothy Lee suggested that “broadband speeds were stagnating in the United States”, resulting in “slow innovation and poor customer service.” Comcast—the nation’s largest broadband service provider—begged to differ, and provided Mr. Lee with hard evidence indicating that the opposite was true. While Mr. Lee subsequently admitted his error and conceded that “Comcast’s service really has been getting faster”, Mr. Lee attempts to use the same data to argue that Comcast is “acting more and more like a monopolist.” Specifically, Mr. Lee contends that these data reveal that Comcast is “focus[ing] on maximizing its own profits, without worrying …
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With proliferating advances in new technology, enforcing copyright in the digital age is becoming increasingly difficult.  Take for example the string of cases over the last twelve months which have ruled on the legality of new third-party subscription services (described in more detail below) designed to allow customers to view over-the-air broadcast television via the internet and mobile devices.  At issue was a simple legal question: do these services facilitate a “public performance” of protected works under Section 101 of the Copyright Act (a.k.a. the “Transmit Clause”), which provides, inter alia, that a work is performed publicly whenever such work is “transmit[ed] or otherwise communicate[ed] …
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Two weeks ago, the Federal Communications Commission released its Fifteenth Report on the assessment of competition in the market for the delivery of video programming.  As both George and I were members of the core team of FCC staffers who wrote the very First Cable Report (and its insightful Appendix H) way back in 1995, I could not help but marvel at the growth and development of the industry over the last eighteen years. Of particular note to me were the FCC’s findings that not only do nearly 131 million (approximately 99%) of American homes have access to three multichannel video programming distributors or “MVPDs” …
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This month, Cardozo Law School Professor and former Special Assistant for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy to President Barack Obama Susan Crawford released her new book entitled Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age.  Professor Crawford is known as a tireless and vocal advocate for government intervention in and the regulation of telecommunications, and is perhaps the most recognized advocate for the construction of a government-funded and regulated fiber-optic Internet network servicing all American homes and businesses.  Many vigorously oppose Professor Crawford’s ideas by claiming they are overly regulatory and too expensive, but many support her proposals with equal …
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Next month, a new book entitled Captive Audience:  The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age (Yale University Press 2012) from Cardozo Law School Professor Susan Crawford will hit the bookshelves.  According to her publisher’s blurb, Professor Crawford’s book will examine how the United States has “created the biggest monopoly since the breakup of Standard Oil a century ago.”  But what is this “monopoly” to which Professor Crawford refers?  While the publisher’s promotional blurb is silent on this question, according to a 2010 paper authored by Professor Crawford in the Yale Law and Policy Review, it appears that she is talking about …
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One of the growing hot-button issues of late has been the fight between programming networks (including traditional broadcast networks) and multichannel video programming distributors (“MVPDs”) over retransmission fees.  As we have seen with increasing frequency, as a programming carriage contract expiration deadline looms larger, either the MVPD pays up, or the channel goes dark.  Just this week, DirecTV just dropped a whopping SEVENTEEN channels owned by Viacom—running the full gamut from MTV to Comedy Central—from their lineup when the parties failed to reach a commercial agreement. In retaliation, Viacom pulled much of their coveted programming from free Internet outlets.  Needless to say, consumers were none …
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One of the major stories that came out of CES last week was (in the words of the Wall Street Journal) the “flood” of new Internet content and mobile devices reaching consumers’ living rooms.  In fact, this has been the story coming out of CES for the past few years.  Given such developments, it continues to puzzle me not only that the FCC refuses to announce, at least formally, that it intends to drop its ill-conceived AllVid paradigm, but that it also refuses to announce that it intends to seek to sunset Section 629 of the Communications Act altogether. By way of quick background, Section …
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