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2015 TPI Aspen Forum – Monday Lunch Keynote Discussion and Dinner Address Videos Available

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The Monday morning TPI Aspen Forum activities concluded with a special luncheon discussion featuring Michelle K. Lee, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office and Daniel Marti, U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator. John Duffy from the University of Virginia School of Law acted as moderator of the discussion. After short remarks form Director Lee, they discussed a range of intellectual property topics including recent patent reform legislation efforts, proposals to relocate the U.S. Copyright Office, and activities in China concerning […]

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Dispatch from the 2015 TPI Aspen Forum – Monday General Session Keynotes and Panels

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The first full day of the Forum began with a keynote by Tim Bresnahan, Landau Professor of Technology and the Economy, Department of Economics and, by courtesy, Professor of Economics for the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. Bresnahan kicked off the conference with a riveting talk on ICT innovation over the past 50 years and his prediction of what’s to come. During the Q&A session, he was asked if we are accurately measuring ICT innovations and their effect on the economy. Bresnahan explained that jobs and shifts in […]

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Dispatch from the 2015 TPI Aspen Forum – Sunday Discussion

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The rain, thankfully, held off for the opening reception of this year’s TPI Aspen Forum. After short remarks from TPI President Tom Lenard, a the Sunday night reception featured a timely discussion with Michael Daniel, Special Assistant to the President and U.S. Cybersecurity Coordinator, and Alan Raul from Sidley Austin. After Alan Raul assured the crowd that “sometimes a computer glitch is just a computer glitch,” referring to the breakdown of air traffic control on the east coast Saturday, the two discussed a broad range of issues concerning cybersecurity. Topics […]

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The Perfect Storm: Snowstorms and the Impact of Theatrical Attendance on DVD Sales

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By Michael Smith, Peter Boatwright and Patrick Choi Everyone knows that movies that are popular in theaters are also popular at home. But no one knows whether increased theater viewing actually causes increased home viewing. Scientifically speaking, this is the difference between correlation and causation. In this instance, it’s difficult to test causation because a movie’s intrinsic appeal affects both measures. To do so accurately, we need an event that changes the number of people who see the movie in theaters, but does so in a way that is completely […]

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The Effectiveness of Site Blocking as an Anti-Piracy Strategy: Evidence from the U.K.

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Brett Danaher, Michael D. Smith, Rahul Telang It is well established in the academic research that piracy harms sales for entertainment goods;[1] and there is emerging evidence that, by reducing the profitability of content creation, piracy may reduce the quality and quantity of the content that is created.[2] Given these empirical results, as academic researchers, we have spent considerable effort trying to understand the effectiveness of various anti-piracy strategies that attempt to mitigate the impact of piracy on industry revenues by either making legal content more appealing or making illegal […]

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The NABU Network: A Great Lesson, But Not About Openness

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When announcing his plan to regulate Internet Service Providers under Title II in Wired, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler argued that his experience at NABU Network in the 1980s helped inform his decision. He writes that NABU failed because “The phone network was open whereas the cable networks were closed. End of story.” But that’s not the whole story, and its lessons aren’t really about openness. Instead, it teaches us about the importance of investment and network effects. NABU sprang from the mind of Canadian entrepreneur John Kelly, who realized that […]

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A Closer Look at Those FCC Emails

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Recently, Vice News received 623 pages of emails from the FCC in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. Vice News has kindly made the entire PDF file available for download. We decided to categorize the emails to get a picture of who contacts the FCC and what they want to talk about. This simple categorization is time consuming given the need to review each page to pull out the relevant information. Nevertheless, our intrepid research associate, Nathan Kliewer, managed to slog his way through the pile, leaving us […]

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Google, Search Ranking, and the Fight Against Piracy

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Last month, Rahul Telang and I blogged about research we conducted with Liron Sivan where we used a field experiment to analyze how the position of pirate links in search results impact consumer behavior. Given this research, we were very interested in Google’s announcement last Friday that they were changing their ranking algorithm to make pirate links harder to find in search results. According to the announcement, Google changed their ranking algorithm to more aggressively demote links from sites that receive a large number of valid DMCA notices, and to make legal links more prominent […]

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Using Search Results to Fight Piracy

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With the growing consensus in the empirical literature that piracy harms sales, and emerging evidence that increased piracy can affect both the quantity and quality of content produced (here and here for example), governments and industry partners are exploring a variety of ways to reduce the harm caused by intellectual property theft. In addition to graduated response efforts and site shutdowns, Internet intermediaries such as Internet Service Providers, hosting companies, and web search engines are increasingly being asked play a role in limiting the availability of pirated content to consumers. However, for this to […]

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Does Piracy Undermine Product Creation?

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(Below is a guest post by my colleague, Rahul Telang from Carnegie Mellon University) That Piracy undermines demand for products in copyright industries is intuitive and well supported by data. Music, movies, books, software have seen demand degradation due to various forms of piracy. What is not so well supported by data is whether piracy undermines product creation. For example, does piracy reduce the number of movies made, or quality of movies made, or investments in movies? Common sense suggests that this must be true. After all, this is the […]

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2014 TPI Aspen Forum has Ended, but the Videos Live On…

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Did you miss the Aspen Forum this year?  Or, do you just want to watch some of the panels again?  Videos of the panels and keynotes from the 2014 event are now up on the TPI website. Some highlights from Monday night and Tuesday: Comcast’s David Cohen was the Monday night dinner speaker.  In front of a packed room, Cohen spoke about the benefits of the Comcast/TWC deal, vertical and horizontal integration in the industry in general, and even revealed what keeps him up at night (hint: it’s not the communications […]

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Dispatch from the TPI Aspen Forum

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Sunday, August 17 Last night, we kicked off our 2014 Aspen Forum in lovely Aspen, Colorado. Congressman Scott Tipton welcomed attendees to his home state (and his home district).  In his remarks, Tipton discussed the importance of tech in growing small business and the economic impact of regulations, which he estimated to cost $1.8 billion a year.  Rep. Tipton also discussed the importance of broadband penetration in rural areas. Video of his speech, and short remarks from TPI President Thomas Lenard and TPI Board Member Ray Gifford, can be found […]

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The Expendables 3 Leak and the Financial Impact of Pre-Release Piracy

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This past week a DVD-quality copy of the movie The Expendables 3 leaked online three weeks before its planned U.S. theatrical release. According to Variety, the film was downloaded 189,000 times within 24 hours. As researchers, an immediate question comes to mind: how much of a financial impact could movie-makers face from such pre-release piracy? The effect of piracy on the sales of movies and other copyrighted works has long been scrutinized, with the vast majority of peer-reviewed academic papers concluding that piracy negatively impacts sales. Indeed, in a recent […]

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Takeaways from the White House Big Data Reports

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On May 1, the White House released its two eagerly-awaited reports on “big data” resulting from the 90-day study President Obama announced on January 17—one by a team led by Presidential Counselor John Podesta, and a complementary study by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).  The reports contain valuable detail about the uses of big data in both the public and private sector.  At the risk of oversimplifying, I see three major takeaways from the reports. First, the reports recognize big data’s enormous benefits and potential.  […]

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Where Do Vendors To Cable Think The Industry Is Heading? Evidence From Cable Show Data In 2014

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Scott Wallsten and Corwin Rhyan For the past five years we have collected data about the exhibitors at the annual NCTA Cable Show from its website.  Each year we analyze trends in the industry through the categories used to classify the exhibitors.  Key observations this year include:        »      The number of exhibitors continues to fall as it has in each of the past 4 years, from 345 in 2010 to 241 in 2014 (Figure 1).        »      Cable Programming, Video on Demand, IPTV, and Multi-Screen Content are the first, […]

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Comcast and Netflix—What’s the Big Deal?

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Netflix and Comcast recently announced an agreement whereby Netflix will pay Comcast for direct access to its network.  This agreement addresses congestion that is slowing delivery of Netflix videos to Comcast’s broadband subscribers and resolves a dispute between the two companies concerning how to pay for the needed network upgrades.  Netflix and Verizon are currently working through a similar dispute.  While some commentators think deals such as the one between Netflix and Comcast are problematic, the reality is that the agreement reflects a common market transaction that yields an outcome […]

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The FCC Tries Yet Again

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FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s official response to the DC Appeals Court decision on the Commission’s “net neutrality” rules promises to keep the issue on the table for the foreseeable future.  That is unfortunate, because there are better ways for the Commission and its staff to spend their time. The Appeals Court took away from the Commission with one hand, while giving back with the other:  It struck down the more onerous provisions of the net neutrality rules—the “anti-discrimination” and “anti-blocking” provisions—because they imposed common carrier obligations and broadband is not […]

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Chairman Rockefeller and Data Brokers

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Chairman Rockefeller recently sent letters to a dozen different companies seeking information on how they share information with third parties.  The letters are an extension of previous requests sent to “data brokers” asking for clarification of the companies’ “data collection, use and sharing practices.”  In the letters, the Chairman opines that the privacy policies on many websites “appear to leave room for sharing a consumer’s information with data brokers or other third parties who in turn may share with data brokers.”  He also stresses the importance of transparent privacy practices […]

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Dispatch from the TPI Aspen Forum – Monday Keynotes, Panels and Beyond

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(With help from Corey Rhyan) The first full day of the TPI Aspen Forum began with a keynote speech by Bob Crandall, TPI Adjunct Senior Fellow and Nonresident Senior Fellow, Economic Studies Program at Brookings Institution.  Crandall’s remarks covered how broadband policy should be informed by an accurate assessment of current market conditions.  Despite what Crandall described as a pessimistic tone in recent reports on US broadband, a relaxed regulatory environment has led to a penetration rate over 98% for broadband in the US (including wireless options), and U.S. broadband […]

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Dispatch from the TPI Aspen Forum – Sunday Opening Reception

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(With help from Corey Rhyan) The 2013 Technology Policy Institute Aspen Forum started out this year with a little rain but plenty of good conversation.  Welcoming remarks were given by TPI President Tom Lenard and TPI Board Member Ray Gifford, who emphasized that the Forum was a great way to end the summer. Every year, TPI secures a Colorado-based speaker to welcome attendees to the Forum.  This year’s speaker was R. Stanton Dodge, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, Dish Network.  In keeping with the forum theme, Dodge opined […]

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Where do vendors to cable think the industry is heading? Evidence from 2013 Cable Show data

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For the past four years (2010 – 2013) I have been collecting data about exhibitors at the Cable Show. Key observations based on the most recent data: The number of exhibitors continues to decline, down to 251 in 2013 from 345 in 2010 (Figure 1). Programming is the most popular exhibitor category, and has been steadily increasing in popularity since 2010. In 2013 nearly one-third of exhibitors classify themselves under programming. Multi-screen content, HDTV, video on demand, and IPTV are the second, third, fourth, and fifth most popular categories (Figure […]

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Unleashing the Potential of Mobile Broadband: What Julius Missed

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In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal op-ed, FCC Chairman Genachowski correctly focuses on the innovation potential of mobile broadband.  For that potential to be realized, he points out, the U.S. needs to make more spectrum available.  A spectrum price index developed by my colleague, Scott Wallsten, demonstrates what most observers believe – that spectrum has become increasingly scarce over the last few years. The Chairman’s op-ed highlights three new policy initiatives the FCC and the Obama Administration are taking in an attempt to address the spectrum scarcity:  (1) the incentive auctions […]

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Life on the Dark Side of Network Effects: Why I Ditched My Windows Phone

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For consumers, 2012 was a great year in wireless. Carriers rolled out 4G networks in earnest and smartphone competition heated up. Apple’s iPhone 5 release was no surprise. But no longer was Android relegated primarily to low-end phones. Ice Cream Sandwich received strong reviews and Samsung launched high end Android devices like the Galaxy S3 that rivaled the iPhone. Microsoft kept plugging away at the margins and introduced Windows Phone 8 with a new partner in Nokia, which had seen better days. For its part, RIM provided investors with numerous […]

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Unintended—But Not Necessarily Bad—Consequences of the 700 MHz Open Access Provisions

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Wireless data pricing has been evolving almost as rapidly as new wireless devices are entering the marketplace. The FCC has mostly sat on the sidelines, watching developments but not intervening. Mostly. Last summer, the FCC decided that Verizon was violating the open access rules of the 700 MHz spectrum licenses it purchased in 2008 by charging customers an additional $20 per month to tether their smartphones to other devices. Verizon paid the fine and allowed tethering on all new data plans.[1] Much digital ink has been spilled regarding how to […]

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Is a broadband tax a good idea?

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The FCC recently asked for comments on a proposal to raise money for universal service obligations by taxing broadband connections. Let’s set aside, for the moment, the question of whether the universal service program has worked (it hasn’t), whether it is efficient (it isn’t), and whether the reforms will actually improve it (they won’t). Instead, let’s focus on the specific question of whether taxing broadband is the best way to raise money for any given program telecommunications policymakers want to fund. The answer, in typical economist fashion, is that it […]

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