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Beyond The Fairness Doctrine

Publication Date: 
November 01, 2008
Reason Online
Jesse Walker

Professor Lawrence Lessig is quoted in an article in Reason Online about the future of the FCC and the pros and cons of deregulation:

... Other reformers, such as the legal scholars Lawrence Lessig and Tim Wu, aren't so statist; even when they call for new controls, they say they prefer broad and simple rules aimed at encouraging innovation, not diktats meant to force a specific outcome. "We need to radically carve back on the scope and reach of what the FCC is doing," Lessig says, "not to the world of no regulation, but to the world of regulation for the objective of facilitating proper competition, not protecting against competition."

Lessig has met with Obama to discuss technology policy, and while he has his disagreements with the candidate—he didn't appreciate Obama's vote this year to give telecom companies retroactive immunity for illegally assisting government spies—he strongly supports the Democratic ticket. From the other end of the coalition, McChesney told the National Conference for Media Reform in June: "Our job doesn't end if he's elected. It begins. But at least we're in play."


In his 2001 book The Future of Ideas, Lessig wrote that "the only thing that government-controlled spectrum has produced is an easy opportunity for the old to protect themselves against the new. Innovation moves too slowly when it must constantly ask permission from politically controlled agencies." The real debate, he argued, is between those who think spectrum should be treated as private property and those who believe new technologies allow the ether to function as an open commons.