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By: Matthew Saroff Thu, 31 Jul 2003 19:36:23 +0000 Andrew Orlowski was right when he referred to Declan as a “Draw by Crayon Libertarian”.

By: Tom Bargerr Wed, 09 Jul 2003 14:32:39 +0000 I attended a conference at Cato Institute in order to hear my Congressioanl Representative, Rick Boucher, give the keynote.

I wasn’t sure what sort of place this was that I wandered into, but upon meeting a person I admired, Declan, I was given the brochures etc. I have an English friend Irixx, who has asked “My English friends are somewhat puzzled. Can you explain, Tom, what is a Libertarian?”

I unsubscribed to Politech when Declan criticized Boucher. And I had a few pithy things to say about Ayn Rand.

As far as i’m concerned, Declan’s only claim to immortality is having a chapter in Lessig’s book named after him.

I see no reason to follow Declan’s tortured thinking anymore, nor to encourage him with any further publicity.

The very idea of copyright itself requires an act of government regulation.

By: Josh Wed, 09 Jul 2003 02:27:03 +0000 I agree, AC, it’s complicated. Which is why I was excited to see that the PFF was holding a conference that promised analysis of both the pros and cons of the concept. I guess my beef lies in two things. 1) If you’re going to have a conference that truly looks at both sides of the issue, why come out swinging against one side before the conference and 2) speaking of beef, where is the beef with Ferree’s comments? Although the keynote speaker, Nancy Victory, hit the nail on the head it was Ferree’s substanceless attack that received all the press attention. He could be absolutely right in saying it’s not time to regulate but I saw nothing in the speech that should have been considered even close to persuasive. As you said, it’s complicated. All I ask is that before we reduce an idea to “simple sloganeering,” we dig through the complications and see what we have. Perhaps we’ll see it in the report he delivers to the Commission. I can only hope.

If anyone (I don’t care what side you’re on) cares enough about this to comment more, come on over to my blog and comment. I’m dying to see a little bit more discourse before this whole idea is dismissed.

By: Anonymous Coward Mon, 07 Jul 2003 19:13:25 +0000 What Josh said is the most accurate. Still Prof. Lessig makes the discussion too simplistic himself. He doesn’t offer any good solutions other than to criticize Declan. Who cares what he thinks? The issue is how to ensure a principle, which is a very complex issue with difficult economic ramifications. It’s easy for everyone else to say: Let Net Neutrality Rule when the costs of the infrastructure are borne by other people. In addition, the Net of today is different from the Net of yesteryear so it just won’t do to apply old principles to a new medium.

By: Josh Thu, 03 Jul 2003 15:02:25 +0000 If anyone wants to see Ferree’s entire speech from the PFF conference, go here. Scroll down to the “Materials from ‘Net Neutrality’ Conference” entry and there will be comments from Ferree, Victory and a paper by Joseph Farrell and Philip Weiser.

Ferree’s speech absolutely reeked of lobby money. After reading it you’ll also understand where Declan magically got the idea that this whole idea is just “waving the marketing slogan of ‘Net neutrality’”

This whole conference was preceded by an attack on the “Net Neutrality” idea in a article by PFF’s Randolph May. There’s a link to that on my blog, too (in the June archives). There’s much more to say about this. I’ll leave it at this for now.

By: Greg Buchholz Thu, 03 Jul 2003 14:25:37 +0000 I think the key to convincing the anti-regulationists about this issue is to put the whole question in its proper context. When Professor Lessig states, “If in fact networks are allowed to decide which applications and content can run on the network, then ‘the Internet’ is dead” I think he is making a subtle mistake that plays into the hands of his adversaries. He uses the generic term “networks” to describe the problem children. But the real problems are the already heavily regulated networks (cable and telecom). If these institutions hadn’t been granted monopolies through regulation in the first place, then I would agree that new rules mandating the “end-to-end” principle would seem overly-intrusive. Since that is not the case, the new rules are simply trying to make those with government granted networks behave more like those under free market conditions. An anti-regulation of sorts. If Microsoft really wanted to preserve the “end-to-end” principle, then they would be wise to also lobby the FCC for increased spectrum allocation for the wireless commons (like the unregulated 2.4GHz slot), which would provide competitive encouragement for the cable companies to do the “right thing” while minimizing the need for regulation tweaking in the future.

By: Christoph Jaggi Thu, 03 Jul 2003 10:30:09 +0000 What can you expect from a guy who doesn’t get the difference between Europe and the European Union, a guy that makes comparitive statements without having even a basic understanding of one of the two things he is comparing? It is fair to assume that such undifferentiated thinking is present all over his work.
When you look at mobile (cellular) networks and the Internet access they provide, you will see that your concerns are more than valid. Mobile operators have already started to limit access. At least in some European countries with some operators you are limited to certain protocols (HTTP, SMTP, POP3, IMAP) when using GPRS. The operators control the gateways and with the control of the gateways they can limit the services available to their subscribers. They actually regulate what kind of Internet services their subscribers can use. If the operators do regulate, then there is absolutely a need for a law that regulates that they do not regulate.

By: Daniel J. Boone Thu, 03 Jul 2003 02:16:09 +0000 “No one serious opposes all regulation.”

Unless you are proposing that as a new definition of “serious”, it’s a false statement. I’m dead serious about it. And even if I’m not serious enough for you, I can’t see how somebody like David Friedman could fail to qualify.

However, lots of serious people disagree with Declan. ;-)

By: ActionVance Thu, 03 Jul 2003 02:02:23 +0000 “no law is currently necessary” — I am sure there is some sort of legislation which protects against faulty advertising (excuse the niavete here – but do read on)

Most cable companies offer “Internet” service. “Internet” is defined as “An interconnected system of networks that connects computers around the world via the TCP/IP protocol.” by American Heritage. that being said, “Internet Access” should be defined as “Access to an interconnected system of…” NOT “Limited Access to an inter….”

I on the otherhand have “Optimum Online” service. After reviewing marketing materials, it became apparent that no where does Cablevision offer “internet access”… they make mention of “surfing” and “downloading” but are careful. They do not say “Internet Access”. Instead – “Online” is used. Online is defined as “Connected to a computer or computer network.” Which is true – no matter how insanely your ONLINE provider limits you.


By: TargusUser Thu, 03 Jul 2003 01:24:00 +0000 I think Lessig fundamentally misunderstands Declan. Lessig is looking for a coherent, reasoned way to examine and evaluate policy. Declan wants to sell copy by adopting strident, provocative views that generate heat, not light. Lessig needs a nuanced view of the world. Declan needs to avoid nuace like the plague: it might be seen as waffling to the cretins whose page views attract Declan’s advertisers.

In short: Hey Declan, Bill O’Reilly called; he wants his schtick back.

By: Jonathan Mendelson Wed, 02 Jul 2003 19:31:40 +0000 I agree that networks shouldn’t regulate what Internet people have access too–but I’m sympathetic to the argument that no law is currently necessary. If and when there is a problem I probably would support legislation to keep the Internet open, but if it ain’t broke, why fix it? There are many examples of well intentioned laws having bad, unintended consequences, and I think a good example is the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1979, which intended to limit the influence of money in campaigns but helped lead to the soft money problem from the last couple elections (leading indirectly to the McCain-Feingold bill, whose effects are yet to be determined). I don’t entirely see the point of passing a law in order to preempt a problem that may or may not occur.

By: Neil Kandalgaonkar Wed, 02 Jul 2003 18:01:28 +0000 Eric Eisenhart: your complaint appears to be self-cancelling. You yourself note the increasing concentration in selecting ISPs. Could you clarify how your hypothetical consumer even has such a clear, equal choice, in the real world?

Even if that were the case, and it clearly ISN’T, it would still be problematic.

Why should the individual consumer be forced to pay higher prices for service in one industry, just to ensure that there is a level playing field in another?

I hope the Cato institute has not yet eaten everyone’s brains, surely enjoining companies from destroying competition in an unrelated industry is an acceptable role for government?

By: Eric Eisenhart Wed, 02 Jul 2003 17:16:59 +0000

If in fact networks are allowed to decide which applications and content can run on the network, then �the Internet� is dead.

Why shouldn’t networks be able to decide what applications and content can run on them, as long as said network isn’t in any kind of monopoly situation and consumers are properly informed of the limitations of the network connection they’re purchasing?

For instance, most responsible broadband providers don’t allow connections on port 25 to go from dialup or broadband customers to “the internet” at large. They force that traffic to go through their mail servers to prevent their customers from readily spamming the world.

Of course, cable-internet is a monopoly; in much of the US (and elsewhere?) there’s fast cable internet, slow dialup or no internet as your choices.

But if you can pick between 2 DSL providers and one is cheaper but doesn’t allow certain types of connections and the other is pricier but allows them, why not let the consumers decide which they’d prefer? Not that the DSL providers that don’t allow certain types of connectivity are actually forthright about this fact or anything, but many customers still manage to figure it out and choose the more open connectivity. (if you want to run a server this is already the case; you can do it with a “premium” provider like speakeasy, but not with a phone company provider like SBC)

By: Seth Finkelstein Wed, 02 Jul 2003 15:26:49 +0000 What planet do these guys come from?

Planet Libertopia, of course :-).

I knew Declan back when he was transitioning to Libertarianism. I used to say, when we were friends, “You’re having your brains eaten by The Mind-Flayers Of Cato”. Obviously, I failed to persuade him …

I have my own views of what happened to him, not sure I should get into it. I’m certainly not the most objective observer, especially nowadays. But I was there when it happened.