Academic Sources on Community Broadband needed
October 13, 2011 6:39 AM   Subscribe

Can anyone help me find academic or empirical sources to reference/cite in a law paper about state laws that prohibit local communities from building their own broadband networks?

I am in my first semester of grad school, and I am trying to find sources that I can reference/cite, etc. in a pretty substantial paper on state laws that prohibit or restrict local communities from building their own broadband networks. I am specifically making an argument that these laws are economically inefficient, and should be rescinded.

I've turned in my abstract for the paper, but it hasn't been accepted yet; I have a meeting tomorrow and I need to present 5 (or so) sources, or I'll have to start over from scratch with another topic. I want to avoid this, because I do care about this topic, and I think the approach is a new one.

I know that my economic arguments will be sound, but finding prior research in this area has been difficult. I am interested in municipal broadband projects and especially in cooperative broadband projects (sort of the modern equivalent of the electrical co-ops of the 1930s). I've been on Google Scholar, of course, but I have not been very successful in this area, yet. I am trying to find anything that has been published (preferably in the last 2-3 years?) on the laws themselves, or the legal challenges both parties have made in these cases, or the like.

As always, any help you can give me would be immensely appreciated! Please let me know if I can clarify anything.
posted by indiebass to Education (8 answers total)

That page gives you the state laws themselves along with some (probably not citable) commentary. For more analysis, see these papers, just to get you started:

John Blevins, Death of the Revolution: The Legal War on Competitive Broadband Technologies, 12 Yale J. L. & Tech. 85 (2009).

Matthew Dunne, Let My People Go (online): The Power of the FCC to Preempt State Laws That Prohibit Municipal Broadband, 107 Colum. L. Rev. 1126 (2007).

Steven C. Carlson, A Historical, Economic, and Legal Analysis of Municipal Ownership of the Information Highway, 25 Rutgers Computer & Tech. L.J. 1 (1999).

Craig Dingwall, Municipal Broadband: Challenges and Perspectives, 59 Fed. Comm. L.J. 67 (2006).

Michael J. Santorelli, Rationalizing the Municipal Broadband Debate, 3 I/S: J. L. & Pol'y for Info. Soc'y 43 (2007).

Hannibal Travis, Wi-fi Everywhere: Universal Broadband Access as Antitrust and Telecommunications Policy, 55 Am. U. L. Rev. 1697 (2006).
posted by jedicus at 7:01 AM on October 13, 2011

Thank you! This gives me an EXCELLENT start! (And thank you for being the sole MeFi to ride in to my rescue on this.)

If there are any others out there with ideas, they are still appreciated!
posted by indiebass at 12:02 PM on October 13, 2011

(And thank you for being the sole MeFi to ride in to my rescue on this.)

To be fair to non-answerers: there's kind of a policy of not answering "help me with my homework" questions here. All I did was search for "municipal broadband" on Westlaw, though, so it seemed to be more about having access to the right tool and less about putting in significant effort. You should see about getting to access to Westlaw or LexisNexis's law journal databases. Ask your university librarian or (if your university has one) your law school librarian.
posted by jedicus at 12:33 PM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm sure I have access to those things through the university, and I'm going to go try and access it in just a bit. I definitely have access to WestLaw.

Part of my problem, as I'm sure you can appreciate, is that I wasn't using the right search terms. I kept searching for "economics community broadband" or just "community broadband", and hadn't searched for municipal at all. Probably because I am also considering cooperative networks too, and I have found some information on trade organizations' web sites, but not a lot of academic work in this area.

And I've been around MeFi for a while... so I'm aware of the sort of homework embargo. I was hoping that this was far enough from that line, as in, I am not asking for arguments, or solving equations, or anything like that. I'm just having a hard time with the background materials, and finding data. On the one hand, I'm excited to be pushing my paper into a new area, rather than just reformulating some stuff that's already been done. The down side to that is that finding reference materials is a bit harder.

Still, I appreciate the help. If others see this, I hope they realize I'm not really asking for "homework" help. If I do it right, the paper might have some significance outside of just this class. But I also thought that the MeFi community would be a place I could ask folks who were familiar with these broader issues, and who might be sympathetic to the arguments I am making.
posted by indiebass at 12:54 PM on October 13, 2011

Not a direct answer to your question, but I would strongly urge you to take jedicus' advice and spend some time talking to a librarian at your school. They are there to help you find the materials you need. As a grad student you will need the skills they can teach you. There are some useful techniques to searching academic literature that go beyond just plugging in random search terms (e.g. citation indexes, chasing down footnotes, using subject headings and other metadata to find related articles).
posted by twirlip at 3:21 PM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

Depending on what you have access to, you can do the same search Jedicus suggested on Google Scholar (use the advanced search, eliminate patents and up the number of results), preferably on campus so that you get access to any resources your library has put out there. Here at my university, Google Scholar links to HeinOnline and some other sources in addition to Westlaw.

You might also chat with some of the organizations that have already created municipal broadband. They've probably had inquiries from places that want to but can't do it yet and might be familiar with some of the issues involved that you haven't thought of yet.

Don't forget that there might also be federal government documents on this; one thing that Obama mentioned during campaigning was broadband and other candidates have campaigned on it as well. There may be Congressional studies (check Fdsys or GPO Access) that are relevant for you as well. Also check with the agencies that regulate broadband. They may have opinions (or regulations, which are another form of law) that are relevant to this as well.

Do talk to a librarian though. The sources Jedicus gave you are law reviews and while they are very reputable in law school world, some professors look down on them because they're not peer reviewed. If you are required to have peer reviewed sources, you'll probably want to check elsewhere. From a librarian (me): questions like this make a librarian's day.

Hope that helps.
posted by eleanna at 6:46 PM on October 13, 2011

Also, the search "legal challenges to municipal broadband" brings up a number of compilations of cases, etc. that might help you. (But do talk to a law school librarian if you can. Not only can they teach you techniques, but they can also walk you through a research strategy and explain places to look for law or types of law that you may not understand or have thought of.)

Um. Yes. Finding materials like this is the fun part of my job so I am going to stop now:)
posted by eleanna at 6:50 PM on October 13, 2011

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