America’s legacy of unparalleled copyright protections and free market orientation has cultivated…
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“Blanket Licensing” – a Collectivist, Bureaucratic, One-Size-Fits-All Deprivation of Property Rights Proposal

America’s legacy of unparalleled copyright protections and free market orientation has cultivated a music industry unrivaled in today’s world or throughout human history.

From the first days of the phonograph, through the jazz age, through the rock era, through disco, through country, through hip-hop and every other popular musical iteration since its advent, it’s not by accident that we lead the world in the same manner in which we lead in such industries as cinema and television programming.  We can thank our nation’s emphasis on strong copyright protections.

Unfortunately, that reality doesn’t deter some activists from periodically advocating a more collectivist, top-down governmental reordering of the music industry in a way that would deprive artists and creators of their…[more]

July 06, 2020 • 02:32 PM

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Doubling Down: Obama Advocates Government-Owned Broadband Service Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, January 15 2015
[W]hat Obama either deliberately ignores or doesn't understand is that private investment and innovation, not government domination and regulation, brought us to this stage. And it is only by encouraging continued private broadband investment, not undermining it, that progress will continue.

Since even before his 2009 inauguration, Barack Obama has promised his extremist base to "fix" an Internet sector that the rest of America hardly considered broken.  

We've said it before, but it bears repeating:  Perhaps no innovation in history has transformed human life so rapidly, so profoundly and so beneficially as Internet service.  Indeed, it remained one of the few sectors that most Americans considered healthy even amid years of economic malaise.  

Despite that, Obama and the activist left persisted in an effort to commandeer Internet service on behalf of federal regulators, even though it continued to flourish precisely because of the light regulatory approach followed beginning with the Clinton Administration.  

During his tenure, for instance, Obama's Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has twice attempted to impose so-called "Net Neutrality," only to have it twice rejected by the nation's second-highest court.  Undeterred, the FCC now hopes to achieve an end-around by regulating Internet service as a "public utility" under laws drafted in the 1930s for old-fashioned telephonic service.  

That is not a misprint, it is not an exaggeration and it is not a cavalier use of terminology.  Obama and his administration openly seek to reclassify Internet service as a public utility.  That hardly presents an appetizing prospect to an American electorate by now familiar with Obama's similar effort to remake the nation's healthcare sector, which explains why opinion polls show public opposition to his scheme on the order of 70%.  

Obama's campaign extends beyond that reclassification goal.  This week, he traveled to Iowa to advocate government intervention into broadband service by establishing government owned broadband networks.  While we agree with the president’s ostensible goal – to bring high-speed broadband to more Americans and to improve our download speeds – government ownership of broadband service is not an efficient or even beneficial scheme to achieve that goal.  

Quite the contrary, government-owned broadband networks often don’t improve access rates at all, they duplicate services already offered by the private sector and perhaps worst of all, they tend to stifle new investment by private sector providers.  That crowding out of more efficient and more effective private broadband investment can result in the government’s eventual monopoly on service. 

This is an important ongoing issue in which we at CFIF have remained actively involved, and Obama's ill-advised new proposal only serves to raise its importance.  

Nearly four years ago, I testified on behalf of CFIF before the North Carolina legislature, urging them on the basis of experience and data to pass a much-needed bill protecting broadband service against the threat of government-owned broadband networks (GONs).  Currently, some 20 states maintain such protections, and North Carolina ultimately followed the wisdom of its fellow states in that regard.  

I explained to Raleigh lawmakers that, “While every public network begins with the sincere belief that 'this time is different' and 'we can make it work here,' public broadband projects ultimately end in financial failure, eradicate well-paying private-sector jobs, deter private investment and delay or outright stifle innovation.”  

I further emphasized that, “taxpayers invariably get left holding the bag, ultimately bailing out a public network that quickly became obsolete."  In support of my testimony, I recited a litany of failures that extended from Taipei, Taiwan to Sydney, Australia and Burlington, Vermont to Marietta, Georgia.

The bottom-line result of those misguided public broadband efforts was that not only did taxpayers in some of those cities lose significant investments, but we also now know from private providers in the U.S., many of them small and locally-owned, that the existence of government-owned networks scared them off.  

Under such regimes, private broadband providers must suddenly seek government approval prior to undertaking such things as laying high-speed fiber optic cables, which obviously increases cost, consumes precious time and increases government regulatory power.  That also means that only more powerful and well-connected companies like Google remain able to clear the bureaucratic hurdles and continue investment and modernization.  

As a result, government-owned broadband networks keep those private investors from growing and providing high-paying jobs to their friends and neighbors in their hometowns.  That fact was confirmed by a recent Mercatus Center study that revealed government-owned broadband networks grow jobs in only one sector:  the government sector. Additionally, their existence appeared to reduce private sector wages.  

We can all agree that lawmakers, from individual statehouses to the White House, must continue to seek ways to improve broadband access and speeds. Unfortunately, straightforward experience proves time and again that government occupying the field by establishing broadband networks that crowd out superior private networks doesn't advance that goal, it undermines it.  

"Today," Obama said in his speech this week, "high-speed broadband is not a luxury, it is a necessity."  That may be correct, but what Obama either deliberately ignores or doesn't understand is that private investment and innovation, not government domination and regulation, brought us to this stage.  And it is only by encouraging continued private broadband investment, not undermining it, that progress will continue.  

Obama's latest effort to increase government power over yet another sector of our economy is misguided, and it is critical that Americans and their elected representatives steadfastly oppose him on this destructive campaign.  


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