What’s New 3rd Edition

 

This teachable work provides a comprehensive introduction to the technology, economics, law, and policy of modern communications.

Conceptual organization

Its unique strength is that it is organized by analytic concepts instead of current industry lines, which are constantly outdated by technological convergence. The basic concepts of the 3rd edition—power, entry, pricing, bad content, good content, consolidation, access, and classification—equip students with a durable and yet flexible intellectual structure that can help parse a complex and ever-changing field.

3rd Edition Enhancements

  • conceptual clarification
    • the 2nd edition’s “structure” was too vague: the horizontal consolidation and Goliath aspects have been retained in the newly titled “consolidation” chapter, whereas the vertical integration aspects have been pushed down to “access.”
    • to clarify the meaning of “access,” the “subsidization” materials that used to be in that chapter have been moved up to “pricing
  • new concept: classification
    • the first two editions did not have an eight chapter, but the 3rd edition introduces the concept of “classification”
    • this concept has grown important as we increasingly try to classify new services (e.g., IP-enabled services) into existing “families” (or Titles) in order to know how to regulate them

Coverage

The third edition includes coverage of every major communications service including radio and TV broadcast, wireline and mobile telephony, cable TV, direct broadcast satellite (DBS), Internet and services provided over IP networks such as VoIP and IPTV.

The book has broad coverage in another sense:  the text isn’t framed as essentially an antitrust course as applied to communication industries.  Rather, the text is deeply engaged with the cultural, social, and political conflicts inherent in communications law and policy.

3rd Edition Enhancements

  • expanded discussion fo § 230 immunity for “interactive computer service” providers
  • detailed discussion of the Digital TV transition (Feb 2009)
  • greater discussion of VoIP
  • greater discussion of IPTV
  • yet the book, including two substantial appendices, stays under 1000 pages

Teachability

Let’s admit it: this material is very challenging, not only for students but also faculty.  Serious engagement requires understanding technology, economics, administrative law, constitutional law, with everything potentially changing every few months.   That’s why I have spent enormous time thinking about pedagogy.

There are clear, concise technological and legal summaries, with useful framings and transitions.  The Notes and Questions (all with memorable or clarifying “short titles”)  provide crucial context and raise useful questions for discussion and deeper analysis.

The judicial opinions and FCC reports have been edited to abide by Einstein’s exhortation to be as simple as possible but no simpler.

Technical diagrams, flowcharts, concept maps, and mind maps also help students navigate between minutiae and the big picture.

And the extraordinarily detailed Teacher’s Manual is in the process of being updated.

3rd Edition Enhancements

  • diagrams have been reworked throughout for greater clarity and refined look
  • new “asides” have been created to offer students relevant information just-in-time
    • instead of asking students to turn to some statutory material in the statutory appendix (which may be wishful thinking), the book now provides just-in-time delivery of statutes, regulations, and other excerpts to help students think through Notes & Questions
  • tighter editing down of length reports and order, as well as verbose cases (again, without over simplification)

Reference

Although this is a teaching book and not a reference, practicing attorneys can benefit tremendously.  First, they can get a big picture understanding of the relevant issues.  Second, annual electronic supplements provide useful updates.  Third, there’s a great Research Appendix that provides the single best guide on how to research communications law with clear explanations of the FCC rulemaking process and the documents generated along the way.

3rd Edition Enhancements

  • the state of the law has been thoroughly updated throughout the book, up to September 2008

If you are looking to teach a complete communications class, and not just Cyber or Internet law, this casebook provides the most pedagogically coherent and sophisticated text available. I was deeply gratified to see on one of my teaching evaluations the following comment:

“This is the best casebook I have purchased for a HLS class and is the best investment I have made in books in my three years here.”

—from an anonymous teaching evaluation by Harvard 3L student of the first edition, Spring 2004