The Future of "Fair and Balanced" -- The Fairness Doctrine, Net Neutrality and the Internet


Pundits, politicians, and even an FCC Commissioner have discussed resurrecting the now-defunct Fairness Doctrine and applying it to Internet communication. This article responds to the novel application of the Fairness Doctrine to the Internet in three parts. First is a review the history and legal rationale that supported the Fairness Doctrine, with a particular emphasis on emerging technologies. Second is a discussion of application of these legal arguments to the evolving structure of the Internet. Third, the author considers what can be learned about Net Neutrality through an analogy to the Fairness Doctrine, concluding that while the Fairness Doctrine is not appropriate to use on the Internet in its present form, the arguments for the Doctrine could affect the debate surrounding Net Neutrality, depending on how the Obama Administration implements Net Neutrality.

This article appeared in The Duke Law & Technology Review (2009 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 008).

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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