Preface

Preface to Fourth Edition

 

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raditionally, there have been two types of communications law courses.  One class is essentially a mass media course, focusing on First Amendment issues crucial to newsprint or broadcast journalists.  The other type of class, now practically extinct, approaches communications as a type of regulated industry, like the once regulated railroads and airlines.  Taking center stage is not content but the pipes that deliver that content and the entry, pricing, and structural regulations that govern them.  More recently, a third type of course has emerged, one that focuses exclusively on cutting-edge and often provocative developments in cyberspace.

Unfortunately, none of these classes provides a comprehensive and coherent introduction to the full array of modern communications and the problems they present.  Yet this is precisely what students need as they prepare to enter a rapidly changing technological environment that blurs business models and regulatory paradigms.  This casebook is designed for the next-generation communications class that responds to this growing demand.

This text and any course based on it have three pedagogical virtues.  First, the text is comprehensive.  No crucial component of our communications infrastructure is ignored: There is substantial discussion of every major communications industry including wireline and wireless telephony, radio and television broadcast, cable television, satellite, the Internet, and nascent services delivered over the Internet such as Voice over IP (“VoIP”) and IPTV.  This broad exposure guarantees that students do not leave the class with gaping holes in their knowledge base.  In addition, this approach allows students to examine closely how a single problem (such as regulating minors’ exposure to pornography) can manifest itself in radically different ways across communications media.

Second, this casebook is organized by analytic concepts, not by current industry lines.  Industry lines change.  In a time of digital convergence, what does it mean to be a “cable” company?  When circuit-switched voice and packet-switched data scream across the copper wires crisscrossing our backyards, what does it mean to be in the “phone” business?  Instead of organizing by industry, this book is organized by eight fundamental concepts: power, entry, pricing, bad content, good content, consolidation, access, and classification.  These analytic concepts offer a durable yet flexible intellectual structure—a set of mental folders—that can organize meaning and understanding of communications law and policy well into the 21st century.

Third, this text emphasizes integrated problem solving skills that go beyond traditional legal analysis.  Technology, economics, and policy analysis are integrated throughout the text in a sophisticated but clear manner.  To facilitate learning, I have peppered the book with clarifying mindmaps, diagrams, and flow-charts.  Additional learning aides, hyperlinked resources, and annual supplements are available at the text’s companion Web site, which is located at: <http://jerrykang.net/commlaw>.

To keep the casebook manageable in both complexity and length, there is little mention of intellectual property.  The text is also U.S.-centric, with emphasis on federal law.  In addition, I have resisted (although not always successfully) overwhelming the reader with encyclopedic detail.  The reader is reminded that this is a textbook, not an up-to-date treatise.  Citations and reference material more useful for researchers than students have been relegated to footnotes.

In the end, I hope that I have created a comprehensive, challenging, yet accessible text that will pay long-lasting educational dividends.  We live in extraordinary times, and, like it or not, lawyers and law-trained policymakers will help establish the communications environment for this new century.  I hope that you will play some role in building that environment.  Your participation starts here.

 

 

Jerry Kang

Oct. 2011
Los Angeles, CA