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How Piracy Can Hurt Consumers

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The public debate about Internet piracy is typically seen as pitting the interests of producers versus the interests of consumers. On one hand, the empirical evidence is clear: piracy hurts producers by reducing the amount of money they can make from their creative efforts. But it is easy to see why consumers might like piracy: those who had been willing to pay the market price can now get it for free, and those who hadn’t been willing to pay the market price can now consume content they wouldn’t have been […]

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Public Comments in the World of Massively Multiplayer Regulatory Proceedings

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By the time the FCC’s ferociously controversial net neutrality draft Order was released on November 22, 2017, more than 22 million comments were submitted to the Commission through its new application programming interface (API). This avalanche of public input is impossible to navigate and interpret using human labor alone. Machine learning tools are uniquely suited to navigating and interpreting such a large amount of information. Their use, however, implies a new set of problems and rules of engagement for regulatory proceedings in a digital world. When considering this new world, […]

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Research Roundup, November 2017: New Tech, Regulatory Frameworks, and Economic Outcomes

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*The Research Roundup is a semi-regular list of outside research we have found interesting and think is worth sharing. The views and conclusions of the papers’ authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of anyone affiliated with TPI.* This edition of Research Roundup highlights a study of differences in travel patterns between shared autonomous vehicles (SAVs) and human-driven vehicles (HVs). Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and IVT, in Zurich, Switzerland developed a large-scale micro-simulation of transit patterns in and around Austin and randomly assigned fare levels. They found clear […]

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File This One Under “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished”

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Actress Alyssa Milano tweeted that the FCC is using Thanksgiving to hide its net neutrality order by releasing a draft the day before the holiday. She would probably be surprised to learn that throughout almost her entire career the FCC never released drafts prior to votes at all. It’s understandable that someone with no reason to know much about the FCC would think this when Mashable calls the timing “a devilishly brilliant plan” and provides no relevant context. From the 1970s through the Wheeler FCC, the Commission did not release the […]

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Proposed Lifeline Reforms a Mixed Bag, Still Ignore Real Issues

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On Thursday, November 16, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is set to vote on a proposal that would adopt several reforms to the Universal Service Lifeline program, which subsidizes broadband and telephone service for low-income consumers. The program, expanded to include broadband Internet in 2016, distributes upwards of $1.5 billion annually in the form of subsidies. Major reforms on the table include: Adopting a “self-enforcing” budget that makes it more difficult to spend more than the rules allow; Limiting subsidy payments to facilities-based providers; Reauthorizing State Commissions to delegate Lifeline […]

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Research Roundup: Robots, Spectrum, and the Sharing Economy – How Do We Think About Innovation?

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This edition of Research Roundup highlights a study undertaken by the MIT Sloan Management Review and Boston Consulting Group, to identify the current state of artificial intelligence (AI) integration in the global economy. Researchers surveyed more than 3,000 executives, managers, and analysts and reviewed the organizations’ structures and best practices to construct a snapshot of current AI use across industries. They find that there exist “large gaps between today’s leaders — companies that already understand and have adopted AI — and laggards,” particularly in their approaches to data and resources […]

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Breaking Down the Advance Universal Service Funds for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands

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On October 4, the Federal Communications Commission voted to allow eligible telecommunications providers in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to receive up to $76.9 million, or seven months worth of subsidies, in advance from the Universal Service Fund’s Connect America Fund (CAF). This post shows the amount of money eligible companies have received from the relevant funds in the past and how much they are eligible to receive in advance. Detailed data on spending by the USF is publicly available, but not always easily accessible. To remedy this issue, […]

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Bolstering Economics at the FCC: Will a Separate Office Help?

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When I was chief economist at the FCC in 2014, the largest fraction of my time was spent on how to improve the standing of economists and use of economics at the FCC. Many of the economists at the FCC, and some others as well, shared my concern that economists and economics was undervalued there. Current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has recently proposed creating a Bureau of Economics and Data. I have no small amount of instinctive sympathy for his proposal, having myself been part of the Department of Justice […]

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Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB Reviews Strongly Correlated With Movie Revenues

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Recently, movie director Brett Ratner said that Rotten Tomatoes, a site that aggregates both professional critics’ and audience reviews, is “the destruction of our business.” To test his claim, I construct a database that includes Rotten Tomato scores for almost 2,000 movies and IMDB audience scores for over 4,000 movies released between 1925 and 2016, although the majority of movies in the dataset were released between 2004 and 2016. I find that, all else equal, each additional percentage point a movie is rated “fresh” (as opposed to “rotten”) on average […]

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Quality Policymaking Requires a Combination of Data, Privacy, and Institutional Capacity

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Credible evidence is necessary for effective government, and credible evidence comes from quality data collection, storage, and analysis. That is the central theme of a report issued this morning by the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking, on which Professor Bob Hahn, faculty member at the University of Oxford and member of the Technology Policy Institute’s Board of Academic Advisors, recently completed service. The Commission was charged with studying the current state of data infrastructure, inventory, and security in the context of Federal policymaking. Its final report offered recommendations to improve the […]

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