Tim Lee on net neutrality, spectrum policy, and software patents

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September 6, 2010 · 4 comments

Timothy B. Lee, PhD candidate in computer science at Princeton University and fellow at Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy, discusses a variety of issues.  Lee parses new net neutrality nuances, addressing recent debate over prioritization of internet services.  He also discusses wireless spectrum policy, comparing and contrasting a strict property rights model to a commons one.  Lee concludes by weighing in on potential software patent reform, referencing Paul Allen’s wide-ranging patent-infringement lawsuits and the Oracle-Google tiff over Java patents.

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  • NormD

    Great podcast!

    Jerry, I am a firm believer in free markets, but free marketeers have a huge blind spot because they believe everything must be owned. Some things don't need to be owned. Should the UN own and sell off ocean shipping channels? Does the UN own the moon? Mars?

    The 2.4 Ghz band is not just a US thing. All over the world, this band is set aside for tens of thousands of unlicensed uses from WiFi to baby monitors to garage door openers to Bluetooth to…

    We need more unlicensed spectrum.

    Spectrum ownership fosters big government and big business. Only big companies can afford to purchase the slices of spectrum that are sold by big government and once these big companies purchase such spectrum they use big government to punish anyone who trespasses on it. Owned spectrum does not foster innovation and entrepreneurship. Exactly the opposite is true.

    If you really want to get radical, there are proposals that with some basic technology no one should need to own any spectrum. Instead each user of spectrum would negotiate a slice of spectrum for the duration of their connection and then release it when they are done. This is similar to the way that backbone routers work. There are no “owned” channels in the router, each connection is routed as the packets arrive. These proposals start with the understanding that 90% of spectrum in any given area is unused, ie, there is no shortage of spectrum that needs to be sold and owned. We just smarter ways of sharing it.

  • NormD

    On software patents,

    You use the term Patent Anarchist like such people are loons

    Consider the plight of a small inventor or startup. There are millions of patents filed every year that are worded so obscurely that they may cover any range of subjects. Most are filed by big companies. No small company has resources to research these much less carry on a years long court fight. The very act of researching patents makes you subject to a willful infringement charge. Couple this with a Patent Office that grants patents much too easily and basically you have a dagger pointed at small companies.

    No one cares whether Oracle succeeds in its suit against Google. Its a game at that level. What both Oracle and Google (and others) do is use their vast portfolio of patents and legions of lawyers to stop small companies from competing with them. Its even worse when you throw in the pure patent holding companies.

    You keep saying that you are in favor of a free markets, but the policies you support are more in line with crony capitalism.

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  • http://skforussia.ru adam

    Very impressive stuff. thanks for sharing