Law Professors Support FCC in Comcast, BitTorrent Case

A quintet of law professors including familiar names to net neutrality debates, Lawrence Lessig of Harvard and Tim Wu of Columbia, have weighed in with the court in support of the FCC's finding against Comcast in the BitTorrent case.

They have filed an amicus (friend of the court) brief in Comcast's challenge of the FCC decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

They called the FCC's decision a "modest step" that simply supports decades for policy promiting an open and accessible net. By contrast, they argued, reversing the FCC's decision--using unreasonable network management techniques was not giving customers sufficient notice about how it was managing its network.--"would reduce the Internet’s ability to serve as an open platform for innovation, economic growth, and democratic discourse."

The FCC two weeks ago filed its own brief saying it had the authority to take action against Comcast for "covertly interfering" with BitTorrent peer-to-peer traffic in violation of Internet openness principles.

The commission also more broadly asserted its authority to regulate the Internet. "Congress created the FCC for cases such as this one," it told the court. "Congress gave the agency broad and adaptable jurisdiction so that it can keep pace with rapidly evolving communications technologies. The Internet is such a technology."

That was appropriate since the brief was filed the same day FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced he proposed codifying and expanding those principles.

Comcast pulled the plug on the network management practice that the FCC took issue with, but also challenged the legal basis and authority for the FCC to take the action it did.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.