By: Thomas W. Hazlett and Brent Skorup The endemic underuse of radio spectrum constitutes a tragedy of the regulatory commons. Like other common interest tragedies, the outcome results from a legal or market structure that prevents economic actors from executing socially efficient bargains. In wireless markets, innovative applications often provoke claims by incumbent radio users that the new traffic will interfere with existing services. Sometimes these concerns are mitigated via market transactions, a la “Coasian bargaining.” Other times, however, solutions cannot be found even when social gains dominate the cost of spillovers. In the recent “LightSquared debacle,” such spectrum allocation failure played out. GPS interests that access frequencies adjacent to the band hosting LightSquared’s new nationwide mobile network complained that the wireless entrant would harm the operation of locational devices. Based on these complaints, regulators then killed LightSquared’s planned 4G network. Conservative estimates placed the prospective 4G consumer gains at least an order of magnitude above GPS losses. “Win win” bargains were theoretically available, fixing GPS vulnerabilities while welcoming the highly valuable wireless innovation. Yet transaction costs—largely caused by policy choices to issue limited and highly fragmented spectrum usage rights (here in the GPS band)—proved prohibitive. This episode provides a
Month: December 2014
Will Sony’s Fourth Playstation Lead to a Second Sony v. Universal?
By: Seth Ascher Sony has included a “share” button on the next version of their popular PlayStation video game system. This feature is meant to allow players to record and share videos of their gameplay. This service shares similarities with the controversial “record” button that Sony included with its Betamax players over thirty years ago. The Betamax player was the subject of the landmark case Sony v. Universal, a foundational case for the modern application of copyright law to new technology. This Issue Brief examines how this “share” feature would fare under the framework laid out by Sony v. Universal and other evolutions in copyright law. Download Full Article (PDF) Cite: 12 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 231
Born This Way: How Neuroimaging Will Impact Jury Deliberations
By: Tanneika Minott Advancements in technology have now made it possible for scientists to provide assessments of an individual’s mental state. Through neuroimaging, scientists can create visual images of the brain that depict whether an individual has a mental disorder or other brain defect. The importance of these advancements is particularly evident in the context of criminal law, where defendants are able to dispute their culpability for crimes committed where they lack the capacity to form criminal intent. Thus, in theory, a neuroimage depicting defective brain functioning could demonstrate a defendant’s inability to form the requisite criminal intent. Due to early successes in high-profile cases where advanced neuroimaging was used in this way, many researchers believe that the use of neuroimages to substantiate claims of diminished capacity and insanity is a viable option for criminal defendants. This Issue Brief argues, however, that though the use of neuroimages may have a positive effect on outcomes in theory, in actuality, the use of neuroimages will only have a negligible impact on sentencing outcomes. Download Full Article (PDF) Cite: 12 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 219