Category Archives: Consolidation

Sensing History: Yoo Re Cherry

tortoise_and_hare.jpg Dave Farber posted a response by Chris Yoo to Barb Cherry’s post about myths and historical errors. Here’s Chris’s reponse in full. To me, it seems that he is conceding that she’s right about the history, that antitrust says nothing about ISP competition, and that a few ISPs control most of the Internet in the U.S. But read it for yourself:
From: Christopher S. Yoo []

I don’t pretend to be an expert on the history of common carriage regulation. Barbara has spent far more time thinking about this than I have, so I always appreciate hearing her reactions and learn from reading her work. That said, here are a few thoughts.

It is true that common carriage long predates both the Granger Movement and the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887. That said, one of the central problems is that the historic justifications for common carriage have not aged very well. Often times the common carriage obligations were regarded as a quid pro quo for a government grant of some economic privilege. Other times they were justified because the industry was “affected with a public interest,” a concept that is usually traced to the landmark Supreme Court case Munn v. Illinois (1876). The Supreme Court struggled to imbue that standard with content (along with a number of early treatises trying to make sense of the concept) and would ultimately abandon it as analytically empty in Nebbia v. New York (1934). Legal scholars, such as Thomas Nachbar and James Speta in addition to Barbara, have attempted to recover lessons from this era. I have never spoken to Barbara about this in particular, but both Tom and Jim have noted the difficulty in extracting any useful lessons from the history.

The rest after the jump. Continue reading

Myths and Historical Errors: Cherry Re Yoo

cherry.jpg Dr. Barbara Cherry sent me a response to Dr. Chris Yoo’s “novel” opinion of her antitrust theory. Dave Farber posted Barb’s comments on his Interesting People list, although without her postscript with the pointer to her articles and book. Farber appended a response from Chris, which I’ll post separately.
From: “Cherry, Barbara” <cherryb at>
Date: Fri, 9 May 2008 18:28:04 -0400
Subject: Re: Prof. Yoo responds for Prof. Farber


Christopher Yoo’s response unfortunately contains several historical analytical errors that I’ve repeatedly discussed in my writings. It is unlikely that he actually read my TPRC paper to which you provided a link in our blog, as he would have readily discovered some of them.

Perhaps the fundamental problem is that many economists and legal scholars commenting on the network neutrality debate DO NOT understand the history of common carriage. Under the common law, common carriage obligations were TORT obligations imposed on carriers (in their relationship with customers) simply by virtue of their status of engaging in the business. In other words, the obligations are STATUS-BASED and unrelated to the industry’s market structure. Attributing the imposition of common carriage obligations to natural monopoly is a MYTH, unfortunately so often erroneously repeated in the secondary literature that it is believed to be true.

The rest after the jump. Continue reading

Social Welfare: Reed Asks Yoo

DPRPhotoSmall.jpg David P. Reed asks a question and Christopher S. Yoo responds on Farber’s Interesting People list. I’m posting both in full here, with my thoughts at the end; basically, law isn’t a science, and anecdotes can turn into legal cases; some have already regarding net neutrality.
From: David P. Reed []
Sent: Saturday, May 10, 2008 11:50 AM
To: David Farber
Cc: ip
Subject: Re: [IP] re-distribution of op-ed on Net Neutrality — a reaction and a reply from one of the authors

I read through the long comment by Chris Yoo below, and as a non-lawyer interested in policy, I ask the following simple question:

Is there a well-regarded (one might ask for scientifically reasoned) argument that antitrust law as currently interpreted and practiced has a substantial impact measured in some currency like $ on social welfare?

Otherwise this entire argument is about nothing more than vaporware proceeding from a faith that competition (however loosely defined) creates social welfare best. AFAIK, this is largely an article of faith, just as the “End of History” was a grand article of faith posited by many of the same people as “truth”.

It is just not fair to imply that the core of “today’s settled antitrust law” carries even the level of weight as Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. There have been no replicable studies of its practice.

Law professors and lawyers who don’t challenge its truthiness squarely are merely behaving as dogmatic mandarins always do – asserting authority of professional status, rather than rigor of reasoning, experiment, or argument.

I say this not as FOX News or Hillary Clinton would call an elitist, but as a person who genuinely is unconvinced by magical faith in authorities.

That’s Reed’s question. Yoo’s response, and my thoughts, after the jump. Continue reading

Novel Point of View: Dr. Chris Yoo’s Opinion of Dr. Barbara Cherry’s Antitrust Opinion

csyoo.jpg I previously posted a pointer to Barbara Cherry’s examination of antitrust history in response to Dave Farber’s posting of an op-ed against net neutrality. Dave responds:


re-distribution of op-ed on Net Neutrality — a reaction and a reply from one of the authors, David Farber, Interesting People, Fri, 9 May 2008 15:23:10 -0400

Here’s Prof. Yoo’s response:

From: “Christopher S. Yoo” <>
Date: May 9, 2008 2:51:40 PM EDT
To: “David Farber” <>
Cc: “Faulhaber, Gerald” <>

Dave Farber forwarded me a recent e-mail asking for a lawyer’s reaction to Barbara Cherry’s recent presentation and paper questioning whether antitrust law can protect against the harms envisioned by network neutrality proponents. As the only lawyer among the co-authors of the op-ed that Dave, Michael Katz, Gerry Faulhaber, and I worked up for the Washington Post, I am happy to offer a few thoughts. (Those interested in a different take on the relationship between network neutrality and antitrust law may want to look here:

Barbara’s work is based on a theory advanced by Neil Averitt and Robert Lande that would place consumer choice at the center of antitrust policy. As Averitt and Lande explicitly recognize, their theory would represent a fairly significant break (they would call it a paradigm shift) away from current antitrust law, which focuses on maximizing economic (and particularly consumer) welfare.

Interestingly, antitrust law once was quite friendly toward the consumer choice perspective that Barbara favors. (I review these developments in vol. 94 of the Georgetown Law Journal at pages 1885-87, Early cases like FTC v. Brown Shoe (1966) and Times-Picayune Publishing v. United States (1953) invalidated exclusive dealing and tying contracts (which are among the types of antitrust practices most similar to network nonneutrality) because they infringed on unfettered consumer choice.

The rest of Dr. Yoo’s response after the jump, and my response in a following post. Continue reading

Murdoch Wants Another NYC Newspaper

Rupert Murdoch AP Photograph
Four months after Rupert Murdoch bought the Wall Street Journal, the editor quit. Murdoch already owns the New York Post. Now he wants to buy Newsday. Nevermind that such a purchase would be illegal. The good money is on Kevin Martin’s FCC letting it happen anyway. After all, if he doesn’t need a law to enforce, what’s to stop him not enforcing the laws he’s already got?

Despite having had no success at preventative or forensic oversight of the FCC, Congress is going to give it another go:

However, the looser ownership rules the FCC passed in December – over an outcry from many interest groups – has stirred criticism from many in Congress, suggesting that Murdoch’s Newsday bid faces the first stirrings of a backlash.

The commerce committee in the Senate yesterday approved a “resolution of disapproval” measure that would overturn the new ownership rules, creating more of a hurdle for Murdoch.

Senator Byron Dorgan, the measure’s leading sponsor, said: “We really do literally have five or six major corporations in this country that determine for the most part what Americans see, hear and read every day. I don’t think that’s healthy for our country.”

Dorgan is backed by 25 senators, including Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and is confident it will pass the Senate. A similar bill has been proposed in the House.

Murdoch’s Newsday bid faces hurdle, Elana Schor,, Friday April 25 2008

We’ll see if the Senate or Democrats have a spine this time.

Meanwhile, the entire mainstream press, except the New York Times, ignores that the president of the United States admits he personally authorized war crimes. Except for ABC, which broke the story, but then couldn’t be bothered to mention it during a “debate” it hosted between the remaining Democratic presidential candidates.

If every other major paper in NYC (and 3 out of the top 10 in the U.S.) is controled by Murdoch, how long before the NYTimes falls prey, too? With net neutrality we can still know about stories like this. Without it?


Hamlet in DC: To Legislate or Not to Legislate, That is the Question

EdwinBoothasHamlet.jpg The U.S. Senate takes up net neutrality again, to legislate or not to legislate:
At a Senate Commerce Committee hearing entitled “The Future of the Internet” on Tuesday, Democratic politicians argued for passage of a law designed to prohibit broadband operators from creating a “fast lane” for certain Internet content and applications. Their stance drew familiar criticism from the cable industry, their Republican counterparts, and FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, who said there’s no demonstrated need for new rules, at this point.

Net neutrality battle returns to the U.S. Senate, by Anne Broache, C|Net, 22 April 2008

Some of the senators seemed to think the Comcast debacle indicated there was need for legislation:
“To whatever degree people were alleging that this was a solution in search of a problem, it has found its problem,” said Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). “We have an obligation to try and guarantee that the same freedom and the same creativity that was able to bring us to where we are today continues, going forward.”

Kerry is one of the backers of a bill called the Internet Freedom Preservation Act, chiefly sponsored by North Dakota Democrat Byron Dorgan and Maine Republican Olympia Snowe, which resurfaced at the beginning of 2007 but has gotten little attention since. A similar measure failed in a divided Commerce Committee and in the House of Representatives nearly two years ago.

Unsurprisingly, Martin says he doesn’t need a law to enforce, because he can make it up as he goes along: Continue reading

Revisionism by PRI

pri.jpg This is amusing:
The attempt to force network neutrality on wireless carriers will result in disaster and is based on faulty assumptions, including one that there ever was neutrality on the Internet, according to a newly released analysis from the Pacific Research Institute (PRI).

Researcher Rebukes Wireless ‘Net Neutrality’ Advocates, NewsBreak, Telecomweb – USA, 26 March 2008

Well, I guess that waves away all the well-documented steps the FCC took to strip away common carrier status from each facet of Internet provision

You have to register to read the rest at Telecomweb, but PRI has more, including this rather amusing claim: Continue reading

PR in China: Monks Burst Into International Press Briefing This is what you have to do to get media attention if you don’t have a free press:
A group of uninvited young monks at the Jokhang Temple, one of the most sacred in Tibet and a top tourist stop in central Lhasa, stormed into a briefing by a temple administrator.

“About 30 young monks burst into the official briefing, shouting: ‘Don’t believe them. They are tricking you. They are telling lies’,” USA Today Beijing-based reporter Callum MacLeod said by telephone from Lhasa.

Monks burst in on Tibet news briefing, By John Ruwitch, Reuters, Thu Mar 27, 2008 2:59pm GMT

This may be an extreme, but it is what controled media lead to.


Big picture: Net Neutrality vs. Social Control by Big Media

Most net neutrality discussions get bogged down in details. This video draws the big picture from the beginnings of the Internet, backwards to the “consolidation” of earlier forms of media such as the printing press and radio, to what the duopoly is trying to do to the Internet.

Do we want the Internet to go the way of newspapers, radio, and TV, and even the postal service, with 90+% of content provided by half a dozen big corporations and only op-eds and heavily selected and edited letters permitted from the great unwashed? Hey, they’ve got that in China, and there most of the population believes that Tibetans are barbarian recipients of superior Chinese culture, so Chinese troops are totally justified in squashing any ungrateful opposition. We could return to depending on the traditional media in the U.S.; after all, they only helped lie us into a war of choice in Iraq, costing $2 billion a week that we could be using to deal with education, health care, and preserving the natural world. Or we can fight for Internet freedom.


Jettisoned: 8 Centuries of Common Carriage Law

puzzle-grey-data-header.jpg Someone at CAIDA (presumably kc Claffy by the writing style), went to
an invitation-only intensely interactive workshop on the topic of Internet infrastructure economics. participants included economists, network engineers, infrastructure providers, network service providers, regulatory experts, investment analysts, application designers, academic researchers/professors, entrepreneurs/inventors, biologists, oceanographers. almost everyone in more than one category.

internet infrastructure economics: top ten things i have learned so far, by webmaster, according to the best available data, October 7th, 2007

and wrote up a report including this summary of the political situation:
…and it turns out that in the last 5 years the United States — home of the creativity, inspiration and enlightened government forces (across several different agencies) that gave rise to the Internet in the first place — has thoroughly jettisoned 8 centuries of common carriage law that we critically relied on to guide public policy in equitably provisioning this kind of good in society, including jurisprudence and experience in determining ‘unreasonable discrimination’.

and our justification for this abandonment of eight centuries of common law is that our “government” — and it turns out most of our underinformed population (see (1) above) — believes that market forces will create an open network on their own. which is a particularly suspicious prediction given how the Internet got to where it is today:in the 1960s the US government funded people like vint cerf and steve crocker to build an open network architected around the ‘end to end principle’, the primary intended use of which was CPU and file sharing among government funded researchers. [yes, the U.S. government fully intended to design, build, and maintain a peer-to-peer file-sharing network!]

That’s right folks: “resource sharing” was the buzzword back then, and every node was supposed to be potentially a peer to every other. Continue reading