Law professor guides victory in Internet law case

Oct 30th, 2008 | By | Category: Campus News, October 30, 2008

UNL law professor Marvin Ammori recently scored an important victory as lead counsel on an FCC case that is a probable foundational precedent for the future of Internet law.

The case supports the principle that consumers have a right to access all lawful content and technologies on the Internet without interference from phone or cable companies providing access.

Last November, while serving as general counsel to Free Press, the nation’s leading Internet policy advocacy group, Professor Ammori authored a complaint and a petition to the FCC that prompted the Commission to open a proceeding that generated 60,000 public comments, thousands of pages of filings from various industry sectors, two public hearings featuring legal and technical experts (and some shenanigans), and intense media scrutiny.


The case centered on whether Comcast Corp., in providing Internet access to consumers, could block innovative technologies, such as BitTorrent and other peer-to-peer technologies, that compete with Comcast’s television services.

Working with many of his mentors and allies in academia and the public interest, Ammori directed legal strategy for a broad coalition through initial filings, comments, reply comments, expert testimony, and supplemental filings on first-impression issues of jurisdiction.

Signing onto the original petition were scholars from Harvard, Yale, and Stanford Law Schools, as well as Public Knowledge, Media Access Project, Consumer Federation of American, and Consumers Union.

The commission in July issued a bipartisan decision agreeing with Ammori’s filings and sanctioning Comcast, monitoring Comcast’s transition away from blocking, and setting important baseline protections for consumers’ access to an open Internet.

The decision represents a major victory for the principle that consumers have a right to access all lawful content and technologies on the Internet, and is the first time the government has punished a network company for interfering with that citizen right.

Comcast appealed the decision to a federal appellate court, and many expect a case of this importance to the future of Internet regulation to eventually reach the Supreme Court.

Ammori is part of the space and telecommunications law faculty and teaches Domestic Telecommunications Law, International Telecommunications Law, Cyberlaw and Mass Media and the First Amendment.

During the last year the case has been reported widely in the national media including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and other national and international business and telecommunications publications.

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