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Overcoming Agoraphobia: Building the Commons of the Digitally Networked Environment

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Benkler, Yochai
Journal: Harvard Journal of Law and Technology
Volume: 11
Date: 1998
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/3082
Sector: New Commons
Information & Knowledge
Subject(s): electromagnetic spectrum
new commons
radio spectrum
Abstract: "We are in the process today of making a fundamental choice about how we will communicate with each other in the next century. We are making this choice without debating it. In fact, we are talking about the wrong thing, at the wrong time, and making this choice (which may be right) for the wrong reasons or for no reason at all. The decision to be made is deceptively technical: how to regulate that part of the digitally networked environment that utilizes wireless or radio-communications technology. The current legal framework for radio transmission relies on administrative licensing of broadcasters. The emerging regulatory alternative replaces licensing with an exhaustive system of property rights in the radio frequency spectrum. This article analyzes a third alternative: regulating wireless transmissions as a public commons, as we today regulate our highway system and our computer networks. The choice we make among these alternatives will determine the path of development of our wireless communications infrastructure. Its social, political, and cultural implications are likely to be profound."

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