[Fourth Branch] Public Piracy of Private Property? Allen v. Cooper

The wreck of the Queen Anne’s Revenge, a ship captained by Blackbeard that sank in the early 18th century, sits underwater just off the coast of North Carolina.

Frederick Allen is the exclusive photographer and videographer of the wreck. In 2013, he found that North Carolina was using his footage on state websites without paying royalties – even though he had federal copyright protection for the material. After a settlement, the state continued to use the footage, and in a dispute now before the Court, Allen claims that the state agency officials are using video/photography materials disregarding due process and copyright law.

North Carolina argues that it is covered by sovereign immunity, and thus shielded from a suit over copyright violations.

Are members of a state agency exempt from copyright lawsuits in the name of state sovereign immunity?

The case will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on November 5.

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[Fourth Branch] Regulatory Sandboxes & Consumer Protection

What are regulatory sandboxes? How might they promote and stimulate innovation? What risks might they pose to consumers? Regulatory experts explore and debate the implications of these unique regulatory environments.

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[Fourth Branch] E-Cigarettes: Smoke & Mirrors

In this Fourth Branch video, legal and healthcare experts debate how federal and state agencies should approach the regulation of e-cigarettes. Should vaping be encouraged as a harm-reduction strategy, with the aim of reducing cigarette-related deaths, or should regulators seek to restrict the availability of e-cigarettes, with the aim of preventing nicotine addiction? This video explores these questions and more.

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[Video] What is the Regulatory Transparency Project?

The Regulatory Transparency Project promotes a national conversation about the benefits and costs of federal, state, and local regulatory policies and explores areas for possible improvement.

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[Fourth Branch] The Jones Act: Debating the Lingering Effects of a 100-Year-Old Law

Passed into law in 1920, the Jones Act is a ban on transport between two U.S. ports, unless it’s on a U.S.-built, U.S.-manned, U.S. flagged, and U.S.-owned ship. The Jones Act was designed to protect the United States’ shipbuilding industry and to ensure that U.S. waters and ports are safe and secure. Some argue, however, that in the context of the modern shipping economy the Jones Act does little to protect national security and, instead, raises prices on U.S. consumers and businesses.

In this Fourth Branch video, James Coleman (Dedman School of Law) and George Landrith (Frontiers of Freedom Institute) discuss the Jones Act’s history, debate its impact on American society today, and explore whether the Jones Act should be updated for today’s economic and national security needs.

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[Fourth Branch] Antitrust & Big Tech

A conversation about the history of antitrust law, the consumer welfare standard, and the tech giants.

Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google provide extremely valuable products and services, but their size, market share, and other concerns such as user privacy have led to concerns that they are wielding too much power.

Proponents of “populist” or “hipster” antitrust advocate for limiting the size of firms. This would require changing the Consumer Welfare Standard, which has been in place since the 1970’s.

Mark Zuckerburg’s testimony before Congress in April 2018 ignited a public debate about whether and how tech companies should be regulated. That debate continues and shows no signs of resolution.

Is it time to revisit the standards used in antitrust law? Our experts explore.

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[Fourth Branch] Resolute: Navigating the Regulatory Thicket

Founded by Caleb Cook in 2001 and run today with his wife Lois, America’s Phone Guys provides telecommunications and VoIP phone services to businesses in and around the Portland, Oregon metro area. As a home-based business, they encounter a complex web of regulatory requirements and grapple with the compliance burdens caused by the accumulation of individual federal, state, and local regulations.

In this Fourth Branch video, Cary Coglianese (University of Pennsylvania Law School) and Luke A. Wake (NFIB Small Business Legal Center) join Caleb and Lois to explore this web — dubbed the “regulatory thicket” by some. What does the regulatory thicket look like in practice? How does it affect small business owners, their employees, and their customers? Taken as a whole, are the benefits of multiple layers of regulation worth the costs?

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[Fourth Branch] Here to Stay: The Modern World of Hospitality

Do home-sharing platforms like Airbnb need more regulation to protect consumers and the safety of local communities? How can the interests of private property owners, consumers, and small businesses be balanced? What might an optimal level of regulation look like, and who decides?

In this Fourth Branch video, Gwendolyn Smith (Grandview Bed & Breakfast), Matthew Feeney (Cato Institute), and Pete Clarke (Retired Commissioner, Orange County, FL) explore the legal and regulatory questions that have accompanied the rise of home-sharing platforms.

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[Fourth Branch] The Financial Frontier: Financial Freedom, Payday Lending, & “Operation Choke Point”

In 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice decided to investigate banks across the country, looking into the business they did with payday lenders. While payday loans are controversial, they are legal in most circumstances. Proponents of this campaign celebrate the push as crucial for consumer protection. Critics claim it sets a dangerous precedent by unfairly targeting lawful businesses. Jamie Fulmer (Advance America), Chris Peterson (The University of Utah), and Brian Knight (Mercatus Center) explore the questions behind “Operation Choke Point”.

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[Fourth Branch] Waters of the United States: Interpreting the Clean Water Act

What is the Clean Water Act? Have historical interpretations of its scope changed over the years? What are the practical effects of those interpretations on the environment, farmers, and landowners? How is this issue relevant today? Donald Kochan and Robert Glicksman explore these questions as they discuss the scope of the Clean Water Act.

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