Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Papers: Video P2P & Layer Model Policy

Kevin D. Werbach has released two papers on SSRN, one on the implications of video p2p and a second on the layer model and the communications policy that should be based on it. This last paper is somewhat reminiscent of what has already been written by scholars like Benkler, Lessig and Solumn, but gives a more detailed insight in the FCC's communications policies over the years. On first sight I thought the paper on video p2p to be a bit more in line with the times, with the usual suspects (eDonkey, BitTorrent, KaZaA, Gnutella, MPAA) in the line up and (some familiar) data on (video) p2p.

The papers and the abstracts:

1) The Implications of Video P2P on Network Usage
A rising tide of video peer-to-peer (P2P) activity is already beginning to affect data networks. And video P2P traffic will inexorably grow in the years ahead. Video P2P will expand beyond unauthorized sharing of commercial prerecorded content, becoming a significant driver of broadband usage and potentially creating new revenue streams. Meanwhile, because of its sheer bulk and technical characteristics, video P2P traffic will place significant strains on broadband networks. Thus, video P2P will influence both the outputs and the inputs of the Internet of the future.
(Note how the abstract's "rising tide" has been changed into "Tsunami" in the paper's introduction!)

2) A Layerd Model for Internet Policy
Today, communications regulators mechanically apply outmoded categories to novel converged services. As a result, they create irresolvable contradictions and force hair-splitting distinctions that seldom hold up under the strain of judicial review or market forces.

Policy-makers should reformulate communications policy around the technical architecture of the Internet itself, which is based on an end-to-end design and a layered protocol stack. Horizontal service and geographic classifications should be reconceived in terms of four layers: content, applications or services, logic, and physical infrastructure. Different policy approaches should be used for each layer, and regulators should turn their attention from pricing to the openness of interfaces between layers and competing services.

The layered model would make many of the conflicts that bedevil regulators more tractable. It would bring important issues to the surface, and would put communications policy on a sound footing for the future.


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