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Coming Regulation

March 12, 2008

Coming Regulation[1]


The development of the Internet and “virtual” space is much the same as other types of property which have been discovered through out the human existence.  For example let’s take maritime law; there was no need to analyze disputes over property, its loss or insurance proceeds, or to analyze shipping lanes and coastal waterways until ships and sailing vessels were theorized and constructed.  Immediately came the need to determine use rights and ownership rights.  The concept of flight and ownership below and above the surface became of interest only after it was proven that human flight could be made.  Immediately the question of ownership and privacy and use became evident because “now” the space could be used for enjoyment and perhaps of greater importance to make a profit.


As stated above the innovations of ICTs and the www have provided new ways to use and think of space and importantly to make money off of this conceptual space.  Secondlife was mentioned a while back.  TWU is even a member in this community now.  That means perhaps for the first time questions about how to use this space are being formulated.  Education, open use, and private use are probably being discussed as we consider this week’s materials.   Just as the Tinie Causby case as inventions and new uses become known there then will arise the desire to maximize use and naturally parameters of use must be redesigned or established.  Just as air became a public highway so too has become virtual – hyperspace (Lessig, 2004).


I like the statement Lessig makes in posting his central argument.

“The law’s role is less and less to support creativity, and more and more to protect certain industries against competition.  Just at the time digital technology could unleash an extraordinary range of commercial and noncommercial creativity (emphasis added), the law burdens this creativity with insanely complex and vague rules and with the threat of obscenely severe penalties.  We may be seeing … the ‘Rise of the Creative Class.”  Unfortunately, we are also seeing an extraordinary rise of regulation of the creative class.”

There is also the question of taxation of purchases made over the Internet.  So this question of how to regulate use of property in the Internet will be defined not only by the desire to control piracy, but to enable government to efficiently and effectively collect ‘use’ and ‘sales’ taxes which by and large are going uncollected at present.

[1] Lessig, L. (2004). Free Culture. (Creative Commons Edition). New York: Random House.

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