Commercialism and the Downfall of Internet Self Governance: An Application of Antitrust Law


David A. Gottardo


VOL. XVI • Fall 1997 • NO. 1 (table of contents)

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16 John Marshall J. of Comp. & Info. Law 125


This article discusses the proliferation of on-line commercialism on the Internet and the various problems related to the increase of commercialism. Spamming, which is defined as the distribution of large amounts of unsolicited information, has been the major form of commercialism and arguably the most problematic.

The article emphasizes the attempts to reduce the problem of on-line commercialism through preventative measures, such as self-governance on the Internet. While the author states that self-governance may be a solution to the problem of excessive commercialism, he also states that self-governance may give rise to problems, such as intervention by the federal government and anti-trust violations.

The formation of trade associations for the Internet is one way to address the problem of on-line commercialism on the Internet. Trade associations can implement standards which bring uniformity to Internet regulations. Trade associations exist primarily to aid users of the Internet in more efficient and effective use of the Internet. One main goal of trade associations is to encourage self-regulation, which may in turn discourage intervention from the government.

However, as the author states, trade associations create greater problems than they solve. According to the author, executives of private companies are also members of trade associations, and there is sometimes a tendency for the companies to attempt to suppress competition. These companies may use trade associations as a tool to harm on-line competition, which inevitably invoke antitrust. Finally, the analysis explores some of the cases in which the Sherman Act was at issue due to the attempt of trade associations to create standards for of self-governance on the Internet.

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