Law as a Network Standard By Dan L. Burk
Abstract: The problem of global information flows via computer networks raises issues of competition, interoperability, and standard-setting parallel to those in the analysis of technical standards. Uniform standards, whether technical or legal, give rise to a constellation of positive and negative network effects. As a global network based upon the “end to end” principle of interoperability, the Internet mediates between different, otherwise incompatible computing platforms. To the extent that law and technological “code” may act as substitutes in shaping human behavior, the Internet similarly mediates between different, otherwise incompatible legal platforms. Much of the legal and social controversy surrounding the Internet stems from the interconnection of such incompatible legal systems. As with technical systems, problems of incompatibility may be addressed by the adoption of uniform legal standards. This, however, raises legal standard-setting problems similar to those seen in technical standard setting, where the standard may be “tipped” in favor of dominant producers. In particular, if law is considered a social product, the benefits of interjurisdictional competition and diversity may be lost as a single uniform legal standard dominates the market for law.
The World Trade Law of Internet Filtering by Tim Wu
Abstract: In its introduction to problems of trade in internet-based services, this paper focuses on two cases: one a country and one a product. The national study is of China, among the world’s more comprehensive internet regulators. China makes for an interesting case because as a condition to accession to the WTO, it agreed to what has been called “radical” reform of its service practices. Yet at the same time China is among the world’s more active filterers of internet services. As we shall see, these two positions are in tension, and while WTO law leaves much room for exceptions, some of China’s restrictions may not be easily justifiable under the GATS. The second study is of the company Skype, a provider of voice over Internet services. Skype offers free voice telephone services to anyone with an internet connection. As a consequences, incumbent telephony carriers, often state-owned, have a strong competitive interest in preventing Skype from reaching their customers. The instances of Skype blocking in several countries raise interesting trade in services issues. This paper is meant for two audiences. For those within the world of trade law it clarifies how internet services have leapt beyond what was contemplated in GATS or subsequent telecommunications agreements. The universalization of a network that is a platform for any type of service requires new thinking about how barriers may come about, and how sectoral commitments are interpreted. For those within the world of telecommunications or internet law, this paper introduces the relevance of WTO law to national regulation of internet services. One of the most interesting consequences may be a tempering of what we might call the “Yahoo! Presumption”; that is, the presumption that the burden lies with internet companies to adapt to national legal systems. While still generally true, the tendency in WTO jurisprudence is to put the burden on national governments to justify internet blocking.
Internet Adoption and Usage Patterns are Different: Implications for the Digital Divide by AVI GOLDFARB and JEFFREY PRINCE
Abstract: We show that Internet adoption and usage patterns are different. Using a survey of 18,439 Americans we find that high income, educated people are more likely to have adopted the Internet by December 2001. However, of those who have adopted, low income, less educated people spend more time online, even controlling for leisure time and for selection with a Heckman correction. Furthermore, these current non-adopters will use the Internet for many of the activities explicitly stated as goals of policy initiatives: telemedicine, e-government, and online communications. This result has important implications for policies aimed at closing the Digital Divide.
Common Law Property Metaphors on the Internet: The Real Problem with the Doctrine of Cybertrespass by SHYAMKRISHNA BALGANESH
Abstract: The doctrine of cybertrespass represents one of the most recent attempts by courts to apply concepts and principles from the real world to the virtual world of the Internet. A creation of state common law, the doctrine essentially involved extending the tort of trespass to chattels to the electronic world. Consequently, unauthorized electronic interferences are deemed trespassory intrusions and rendered actionable. The present paper aims to undertake a conceptual study of the evolution of the doctrine, examining the doctrinal modifications courts were required to make to mould the doctrine to meet the specificities of cyberspace. It then uses cybertrespass to examine the implications of transposing property metaphors to the world of the Internet, characterized by the absence of resource rivalry and the reality of positive value enhancement through increased usage (i.e., a network effect, whereby participation in use by many is a condition for value in use by any). It is argued that the transposition of proprietary concepts to the Internet is done for purely instrumental reasons – reasons that derive neither from the nature of the resource nor its usage. The paper then evaluates whether such an instrumental use of proprietary concepts on the Internet has any effect on the meaning ordinarily attributed to the concept of property and the identification of property as an independent institution of moral significance. It concludes by showing that the relative neglect that doctrines such as cybertrespass have for identifying the boundaries of the res over which the property right is to operate, is capable of undermining the minimum core of any understanding of property as an independent institution.
Illegal Online Filesharing, Information Producers’ Strategies and Production by MICHAEL NWOGUGU
Abstract: In the US, Europe and Asia, illegal downloading of content and music has resulted in substantial losses in the entertainment and education industries. The issue involves various policy, technological and economics problems that have not yet been resolved even as internet use continues to grow substantially. The lack of an efficient method of controlling downloads of content is compounded by the fact that owners of content don’t know how to price such content; and that inefficient downloads results in sub-optimal pricing of content. This paper discusses some of the main problems that introduces several methods/systems for efficiently controlling downloads content.
Digital divide or digital development? The Internet in Mexico by James Curry and Martin Kenney
Abstract: This paper discusses the development of the Internet in Mexico within the context of the digital divide. There is skepticism about whether the digital divide is something driven primarily by technology rather than an epiphenomenon driven by socioeconomic factors. The barriers to access are not technological but rather economic and historical. Although Mexico shows wide disparities in Internet access, it also shows rapid development toward more access. The number of regular Internet users in Mexico is small (about 14 million) but has shown consistent growth. Business and non-governmental organization presence on the Web is increasing, and the Mexican government is innovatively using the Web to broaden contact with its citizens. In the Mexican case, there is certainly evidence of a digital divide. Nevertheless, there is also ample evidence of digital development.
Exploring factors influencing Internet users’ adoption of Internet television in Taiwan by Kenneth C.C. Yang and Yowei Kang
Abstract: This study examined how demographics, Internet use motivation, and beliefs about Internet television influenced Internet users’ intentions to adopt Internet television in Taiwan. The belief factors of users in programming quality, government regulation, and media impact contributed significantly to predicting an intention to adopt Internet television. Results from hierarchical regression also demonstrated that gender and Internet use motivations were predictive as well.
Does broadband matter to the economy? Numerous studies have focused on whether there is a digital divide, on regulatory impacts and investment incentives, and on the factors influencing where broadband is available. However, given how recently broadband has been adopted, little empirical research has investigated its economic impact. This paper presents estimates of the effect of broadband on a number of indicators of economic activity, including employment, wages, and industry mix, using a cross-sectional panel data set of communities (by zip code) across the United States.