This Week in Cyberlaw, 1/7/07

Cyberlaw Microsoft & Google Software / Open Source Tech News

Net neutrality has been in the news. The must-read article of the week is by Lawrence Lessig in Wired about the regulation of technology. He says that in hindsight, Microsoft may not have needed so much government intervention–competition (e.g., Linux) proved more capable at tempering the monopoly than regulation was. How does this relate to net neutrality? Well, that’s different, he says. We do need regulation there, because there’s nothing even close to breaking the monopoly power on Internet access. (I’ll have to think about that one.)

The recent FCC approval of the AT&T merger
has also spurred a lot of net neutrality commentary. The requirement for AT&T to
observe net neutrality principles for at least two years is called a “limited but
important victory” in a NY Times editorial. Susan Crawford,
on the other hand, thinks the deal “missed a major battleground”: the
verbosely-titled AT&T Yahoo! High Speed Internet U-verse Enabled is exempt from that promise.

BusinessWeek reports
on a new way consumers are fighting against DRM: antitrust lawsuits. In
particular, two suits recently brought against Apple charge the company
with using its DRM and huge market share to prevent competition in both
digital audio players and music downloads. Apple, of course, has
considerable market share and market power in both areas. The US District Court Judge denied Apple’s motion to dismiss the case, so it may go to trial.

Exciting things are going on with Creative Commons, which just finished a very successful donations drive. Lawrence Lessig was just replaced as Chairman be Joichi Ito (link), who talks about his plans to promote CC among businesses. Ideas include more software applications and electronics (like digital cameras) that allow users to embed projects with creative commons licenses at the time of creation.

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