Re: Does the FCC have any rights?
Sun, 9 Mar 1997 15:10:52 -0500 (EST)

The FCC has powers. With these, it sometimes seizes our rights.

That the FCC has laid claim to the electromagnetic spectrum should give rise
to more outrage than the claims that the US made to the West in the 1800s.
What has the FCC done to "improve" the airwaves? Control over spectrum,
like ownership over land in the state of nature, should vest the person to
first put it into productive use. (For the theoretically minded, the cause
of action would arise not as a property right but as a claim for tortious
interference with business relations or the like, as nuisance, or as
contract.) Planting a flag in one corner of a continent does not suffice;
nor should statists' claims about the "public" airwaves.

In a message dated 3/9/97 11:03:33 AM, my inner geek wrote:

>[I]s it fair that the FCC sell rights to use spectrum for
>low-power digital wireless networking to the highest bidder, so they
>can then sell metered usage?

By a very defensible definition of "fair", no. But note at any rate that the
FCC gives only sharply delimited rights. It exercises considerable
regulation over use of the spectrum that it "sells". Were the FCC to sell
off the rights en toto and then get out of the way, a Coasian would applaud.

Such a one-time sale of complete title to electromagnetic spectrum represents
a morally imperfect solution, but an excellent exit strategy. The statists
get their big pay-off, the telecoms get free reign, and the FCC turns to
other matters. This exit stategy would, ideally, leave room for spectrum
analogs to such real property notions as easements and averse possession.
"Regulation" would follow via common law suits.

T.0. Morrow