February 14, 2007 · Lessig
So these are taking longer than expected, and now I’ve added a topic I didn’t originally flag (though in 1984-fashion, I’ve hidden this fact by simply changing the original blog entry).
The subject here is spectrum policy. The argument is that we deregulate spectrum. “Deregulate” not in the sense that we auction spectrum. Auctions require a gov’t created property right; that’s a form of spectrum regulation. “Deregulate” in the sense that we set off large swaths of spectrum for unlicensed use. Congress has made this impossible in the short term for any significant chunk of spectrum. But we do have an important opportunity to set free “white space.”
The argument might be best introduced with the following hypothetical:
Imagine the government nationalized the hotdog market, and then sold to the highest bidder the “right to sell hotdogs” at in a particular place for a particular period of time. These rights — the right to sell hotdogs — could be structured to be a kind of property. The market would thus allocate them to the highest valued use. And the initial sale would raise lots of money for the federal treasury.
Are you in favor of that? And if not, then why are you in favor of spectrum auctions? “Because certain uses require regulation,” you say. But then why not push towards uses that don’t require regulation?
Download or stream the video here (27 minutes).
Watch it on Google video below: