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The year was 1998. Cher’s autotune anthem Believe was one of the year’s biggest hits, Titanic had swept the Oscars, and in some sterile software campus in the Northwest, Bill Gates was rehearsing a deposition.
It’s been over 12 years since Gates’ and Microsoft’s anti-trust battle with the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission first hit the courts. It is still seen as a watershed for the management of technology companies in the dot com age.
But in the dozen years that have passed, people are still speculating whether the anti-trust case against Microsoft made any difference, and whether the software and technology companies of today are engaging in anti-competitive practices similar to or more risky than the ones that got Microsoft in trouble.
Who are the Microsofts of today? Facebook? Apple? Google? And how do we manage competition in the digital age?
Today, two of the leading minds on the internet and law, Jonathan Zittrain and Larry Lessig, take on competition.
This is just the pilot of a new monthly feature we hope to have with Jonathan and Larry. Any thoughts on the show? Compliments or criticisms? Share them with us in the comments. We’re also looking for a name for this series. If you have any brilliant ideas drop us a comment!
BONUS CONTENT: There was too much audio to fit into this one episode. If you’re eager for some more perspectives on competition in the digital age, give these pieces a shot.
• I Am Not A Lawyer: Producers Daniel Jones and Molly Sauter are joined by a number of experts from the field for some background on the competition issue, including Ken Auletta, Siva Vaidhyanathan, Gary Reback, Phil Malone, and Brian Chen. Listen.
• Uncut audio of our interviews:
Ken Auletta: http://kenauletta.com/)
“Publish or Perish,” The New Yorker (26 April 2010) http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/… Ken looks at the coming e-book battle between the Apple iPad and Amazon Kindle, and what it means for the future of publishing.
-“Searching for Trouble,” The New Yorker (12 October 2009) http://kenauletta.com/2009_10_12_searchi… Last year, Ken looked at how Google’s growth into the search and advertising markets and unique business philosophy is changing the landscape of American business. In 2008, Ken published another New Yorker article, (“The Search Party,” The New Yorker, (14 January 2008) http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/…), examining Google’s dealings with Capitol Hill.
Siva Vaidhyanathan: http://www.googlizationofeverything.com/
Siva’s personal website, The Googlization of Everything, contains links to his major media appearances and publications, including his books, The Anarchist in the Library http://www.amazon.com/Anarchist-Library-…)and Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How it Threatens Creativity http://www.amazon.com/Copyrights-Copywro…)
Gary Reback: http://www.garyreback.com/
Author of Free the Market! Why Only Government Can Keep the Marketplace Competitive. Mr. Reback founded the Open Book Alliance http://www.openbookalliance.org) in opposition to the Google Books Settlement.
We interviewed Randy Picker but were unfortunately not able to include him in this week’s podcast. We encourage you to check out his site and publications http://picker.uchicago.edu/) if you’re interested in antitrust and game theory!
Wired’s timeline of US v Microsoft: http://www.wired.com/techbiz/it/news/200…
Wikipedia’s article on US v Microsoft: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Stat…
Bracha and Pasquale’s paper on the “search comission” proposal: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?a…
Photo courtesy of Joey Mornin